Environmental stewardship drives Opus Inspection to create technology for a cleaner, safer world.
Auto industry vet Sandra McCulloch believes in the power of processes.
“Some of the things you learn in the auto industry are the importance of robust processes, strong problem solving, the need for continuous improvement, and innovation that’s focused on customer solutions,” she recently told BOSS.
As CEO of global auto emissions and safety testing leader Opus Inspection, a position she accepted earlier this year, McCulloch is guiding the firm’s mission, vision, and a bold plan to double revenues over the next five years.
“Growing a company from the smaller end of a midsize company to the middle of the bracket is an incredible opportunity,” she said. “But it also represents challenges, and I think it’s really important to have robust, well-designed business processes that can grow with the company.”
Opus Inspection serves the global automotive inspection and maintenance (I/M) market with pioneering technologies that record, communicate, and monitor vehicle emissions and gauge roadworthiness. Parent company Opus Group AB, based in Mölndal, Sweden, is widely recognized for their unflagging commitment to technological innovation and environmental protection.
“Under their leadership the team is completely committed to our vision, our mission, and executing our growth objectives.
This is an enterprise that walks the walk.
“As a company we’ve made a commitment to be carbon neutral. We’re really proud of the fact that we just achieved that milestone in Sweden, and we’re now determining our next geographical target,” she added.
“In the U.S., we completed the first phase by establishing what our carbon footprint is, and now we need to work towards establishing our strategy for achieving carbon neutrality here as well.”
Refining the Tech of Automotive SafetyWith almost 40 years in the I/M space, Opus Inspection boasts a variety of industry firsts, including being the first company to provide computerized emissions analyzer testing systems for vehicle inspection programs, and establishing the first contractor-managed vehicle inspection program in the U.S.
Opus Inspection was also the first company to commercialize remote sensing, a drive-by emissions test, 25 years ago. The firm used their years of data collected via remote sensing to help expose Volkswagen’s emission defeat device scandal.
“A defeat device can allow a vehicle to fraudulently pass certification because it can detect when the vehicle is undergoing regulatory lab testing, and it fakes clean performance. But, as the vehicle drives by our remote sensing equipment, on public roads, the real emissions are recorded and measured.
“No defeat device can detect if the car is passing by our remote sensors,” she explained.
“We’re also addressing the growing market for electronic repair support that’s occurring as embedded, advanced electronic systems are growing in all OEM vehicle segments. ‘Right to Repair’ laws in the U.S. and elsewhere are driving the importance of vehicle diagnostics and reprogramming and increasing the need for assistance to independent repair shops.”
The company’s remote diagnostic and reprogramming services allow independent garage technicians access to the data and technical expertise that a car dealership has, but at rates the independents can afford.
This activity of Opus subsidiary Drew Technologies supports small businesses by extending the company’s high profile expertise to mom and pop shops.
“We’ve leveraged our technology and experience to offer remote diagnostic and reprogramming services so repair shops can tackle complicated issues with Drew providing subject matter expertise,” McCulloch said. “Drew is also helping to develop new SAE standards as the industry pushes towards driverless cars and secure vehicles.”
Acquiring a controlling interest in FASTLIGN®, a patented laser-based technology that instantly measures wheel alignment of cars and trucks, is one of the newest products in the company portfolio.
“There’s nothing like it on the market today,” she admitted. “Customers love the product because it’s a fast, touchless, independent, fully automated, and computerized check that can be made as a vehicle drives into the service facility.”
Other M&A activity in 2017 included purchasing a majority share of Spanish emissions testing firm Remote Sensing Laboratory S.L. (RSLab), the only company of its kind to achieve ISO 17025 certification, a standard that defines the requirements that inspection bodies must meet to demonstrate technical competence when producing valid test results.
Opus also acquired UK auto diagnostics specialists Autologic Diagnostics Inc., which in turn acquired full ownership of Farsight, a remote diagnostics and vehicle communication services provider for the North American automotive aftermarket.
Helping Steer Towards a Cleaner, Safer Future“The world wants safer roads and cleaner air. The WHO declared 2010 as the decade of action, with the goal of cutting worldwide traffic fatalities in half by 2020. So far, the developed world is on track to meet the 50 percent reduction, but worldwide traffic fatalities have actually increased,” she stated.
“In low and middle income countries, the fleet is older and the motorization rates are increasing with the expanding economy and growing population. Our strategy builds on this, and our plan is to expand globally in our core I/M products and services as well as growing our product portfolio.”
The introduction of new emissions standards in South Asia has the potential to make a tremendous impact in the region, and that delights McCulloch.
“We’re just so pleased to be able to provide inspections that are leading to the remediation of substandard vehicles while improving the wellbeing for all citizens.”
We asked McCulloch about the expected impact of the current administration’s efforts to restructure the Environmental Protection Agency.
“It’s to be determined what the actual impact will be, but I/M programs are driven by the Federal Clean Air Act... a requirement of this act includes no backsliding.”
She went on to explain that if a state’s I/M program is part of a state implementation plan, or SIP, to address ambient air quality, it will still need pollution abatement programs even if ambient standards are met. This regulation ensures that states don’t slip back into noncompliance.
“I/M programs will remain a very effective way to meet SIPs and, at this point, there doesn’t appear to be any desire to change the Federal Clean Air Act. I think that’s likely because it has been so successful at improving air quality in our cities.”
While McCulloch doesn’t see a direct impact of the country’s refusal to sign the Paris Climate Accord as a detriment on domestic sales, there may be positive results internationally.
“We remain committed to the preservation of the environment and see the introduction of roadworthiness and emissions programs in developing nations to be on the rise notwithstanding anything that the U.S. might or might not do in regard to climate change.”
“The world needs our services now more than ever. The global vehicle inspection market in low and middle income countries is just beginning, as road fatalities and pollution levels in metropolitan areas in the developing world are at an all-time high.” she noted. “Opus is committed to staying on the leading edge of the technology, providing vehicle inspection and vehicle services that will aid in making the world a cleaner and safer place.”
Opus Inspection, with its subsidiary Envirotest, is a multi-national company with over 1,100 employees dedicated exclusively to motor vehicle inspection.
Opus Inspection is a vertically integrated company with operations in 24 of the United States and several countries. Building on an unmatched record of success and customer satisfaction, Opus Inspection has become the industry leader in providing professionally managed solutions for centralized and decentralized inspection and maintenance (I/M) programs that apply leading-edge technology to data management, safety and emissions testing equipment, and on-road remote sensing. Opus also provides vehicle communication, diagnostic, and reprogramming services through subsidiary Drew Technologies.