US20140279169A1 - Method for generating vehicle repair estimate reports based on predictive estimating - Google Patents

Method for generating vehicle repair estimate reports based on predictive estimating Download PDF

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Publication number
US20140279169A1
US20140279169A1 US13842944 US201313842944A US2014279169A1 US 20140279169 A1 US20140279169 A1 US 20140279169A1 US 13842944 US13842944 US 13842944 US 201313842944 A US201313842944 A US 201313842944A US 2014279169 A1 US2014279169 A1 US 2014279169A1
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vehicle
repair
server
master
client
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US13842944
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Rick L. Leos
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Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc
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Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc
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    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q30/00Commerce, e.g. shopping or e-commerce
    • G06Q30/06Buying, selling or leasing transactions
    • G06Q30/0601Electronic shopping
    • G06Q30/0611Request for offers or quotes
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q10/00Administration; Management
    • G06Q10/20Product repair or maintenance administration
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q30/00Commerce, e.g. shopping or e-commerce
    • G06Q30/06Buying, selling or leasing transactions
    • G06Q30/0601Electronic shopping
    • G06Q30/0633Lists, e.g. purchase orders, compilation or processing

Abstract

Consumer safety of repaired vehicles can be improved by providing systems and methods for generating vehicle repair estimate reports based on predictive estimating and transmitting these reports to clients. A master server serviced by a vehicle manufacturer generates a vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating and transmits this report to a client via a web-based graphical user interface. Also, a master server serviced by a vehicle manufacturer generates a vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating and transmits this report to a client via a vehicle repair claims management user interface. The vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating may comprise repair packages and repair information relating to recommended replacement parts and quantities thereof, the part numbers for the suggested replacement parts, the price estimate for the suggested replacement parts, manufacturer-recommended repair instructions, and other relevant information.

Description

    BACKGROUND
  • [0001]
    1. Field
  • [0002]
    The present invention relates generally to the vehicle repair industry and more particularly to the vehicle repair estimating industry.
  • [0003]
    2. Description of the Related Art
  • [0004]
    In the vehicle repair estimating industry, repair cost estimates for a damaged vehicle can vary widely from one vehicle repair shop to another. The varying repair cost estimates often stem from the lack of any vehicle manufacturer-approved standardized protocol for evaluating a damaged vehicle. Typically, to prepare a vehicle repair estimate, vehicle repair shops access one of three graphical user interfaces serviced by independent vehicle repair claims management companies: (1) Mitchell International, (2) Audatex, and (3) CCC One. Vehicle repair shops are accustomed to using Mitchell International, Audatex, or CCC One because their estimates are often approved by major insurance companies, thereby streamlining the estimate approval and reimbursement process. However, the estimating approach currently presented by Mitchell International, Audatex, or CCC One is deficient in facilitating vehicle manufacturer-approved repairs because it leaves the entirety of the repair estimating up to the discretion of each vehicle repair shop. In particular, these independent vehicle repair claims management companies only provide an à-la-carte listing of all vehicle parts associated with a particular vehicle. As a result, a vehicle repair shop has wide discretion in determining which vehicle parts will be replaced, the prices for these parts, whether genuine manufacturer-certified will be used, the repair methodology, among other considerations. Unfortunately, all too often, there are countless stories of faulty vehicle repairs. Thus, as most vehicle owners are well aware, the quality of a vehicle repair varies from one vehicle repair shop to another.
  • [0005]
    Faulty vehicle repairs stem from many sources, such as a vehicle repair shop's failure to thoroughly replace all necessary parts, failure to use genuine manufacturer-certified parts, or failure to properly repair the vehicle in accordance with vehicle manufacturer-recommended installation and repair instructions. By way of example, a vehicle manufacturer may designate certain vehicle parts as one-time use parts. A one-time use vehicle part must be replaced if it is altered or removed from the vehicle during the repair process, even if the part is undamaged. Unfortunately, it is common for a vehicle repair shop to re-use an undamaged one-time use vehicle part due to lack of knowledge that the part is a one-time use part. This problem is particularly acute for vehicle repair shops that service many different vehicle makes and models. The number of parts per vehicle, compounded by the hundreds of different vehicle makes and models, is simply overwhelming and not practical for a vehicle technician to commit to memory.
  • [0006]
    Alternatively, a vehicle repair shop's motivation to cut corners may result in faulty repairs. For example, a vehicle repair shop may charge for parts that were not even replaced, such as one-time use parts. Similarly, a vehicle repair shop may charge for parts that are manufacturer-certified but in reality, replace with parts that are not manufacturer-certified. Finally, a vehicle repair shop may cut corner on the actual repair process. In short, the opportunities for a vehicle repair shop to cut corners are voluminous and often escape the vehicle owner's notice until the vehicle breaks down due to the faulty repair-work.
  • [0007]
    Improperly repaired vehicles may present safety risks and generally require being re-repaired, resulting in increased costs, time, and inconvenience. Furthermore, improperly repaired vehicles may cause other vehicular problems not related to the initial malfunction that led to the initial repairs, resulting in increased safety risks, costs, time, and inconvenience. Improperly repaired vehicles not only present problems to the vehicle owner and the occupants thereof, but also to other individuals who may be exposed to the malfunctioned vehicle.
  • [0008]
    In light of the foregoing, there is an acute need for an alternative method of estimating vehicle repairs that will lead to more proper repairs to improve consumer safety stemming from faulty repairs.
  • [0009]
    Additionally, there is a need for providing manufacturer-recommended vehicle repair information to vehicle repair shops, insurance claim appraisers and adjusters, vehicle owners, and similar personnel in an efficient and effective manner.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0010]
    The present invention addresses the foregoing needs of improving consumer safety by providing methods for generating a vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating. This report includes information relating to manufacturer-recommended parts to be replaced, an identification of any one-time use parts, the part numbers for the suggested replacement parts, the price estimate for the suggested replacement parts, detailed manufacturer-approved repair instructions, among other relevant information.
  • [0011]
    The present invention provides an estimating approach known as predictive estimating. This predictive estimating approach is based on the concept that a more accurate vehicle repair estimate is realized when the vehicle repair estimator begins an estimate with a comprehensive listing of all the parts likely to be damaged. This comprehensive listing is prepared by the vehicle manufacturer to ensure that the proper expertise is utilized in evaluating a vehicle repair. With a comprehensive listing of all parts likely to be damaged, the vehicle repair estimator can then eliminate parts he or she deems unnecessary based on his or her expertise. Vehicle repair estimation based on elimination of parts ensures that the vehicle repair estimators do not miss key repair parts, particularly one-time use parts. By contrast, when an estimate begins essentially with a blank sheet, there is a higher likelihood that the vehicle repair estimator may miss key repair parts, thereby resulting in increased safety risks.
  • [0012]
    As previously discussed, the current graphical user interfaces provided by vehicle repair claims management companies such as Mitchell International, Audatex, and CCC One essentially provide estimators with a blank sheet approach whereby estimators, based on his or her expertise, select replacement parts from the à-la-carte listing of all vehicle parts associated with a particular vehicle.
  • [0013]
    The manufacturer-recommended vehicle repair information would include, but is not limited to, manufacturer-recommended parts to be replaced, an identification of any one-time use parts, the part numbers for the suggested replacement parts, the price estimate for the suggested replacement parts, and detailed manufacturer-approved repair instructions. The manufacturer-recommended vehicle repair information provides quality assurance that the suggested replacement parts and repair instructions are manufacturer-approved, thereby ensuring that the vehicle will be properly repaired. By way of example, the order in which certain vehicle parts are removed during the repair process is critical and this order may differ greatly from one vehicle to another. For instance, some vehicles require removing the restraint system prior to welding. Different vehicles require different methods in cutting the metal and different methods for preparing the paint job. Yet other vehicles have a particular method of applying the seam sealer. Thus, an added bonus of providing detailed manufacturer-recommended repair instructions is to educate vehicle repair shops as to the proper repair techniques.
  • [0014]
    The present invention provides systems and methods for generating vehicle repair estimate reports based on predictive estimating and transmitting these reports to clients via suitable graphical user interfaces. In one embodiment, a master server serviced by a vehicle manufacturer generates vehicle repair estimate reports based on predictive estimating and transmits these reports to clients via a web-based graphical user interface. In another embodiment, a master server serviced by a vehicle manufacturer generates vehicle repair estimate reports based on predictive estimating and transmits these reports to clients via a web-based graphical user interface serviced primarily by an independent vehicle repair claims management company. In either embodiment, the master server serviced is able to communicate in real-time with the clients. The vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating may comprise repair packages and repair information relating to recommended replacement parts and quantities thereof, the part numbers for the suggested replacement parts, the price estimate for the suggested replacement parts, manufacturer-recommended repair instructions, identification of one-time use parts, and other relevant information. This report is customizable depending on the clients' needs and wishes.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0015]
    Other systems, methods, features and advantages of the present invention will be or will become apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art upon examination of the following figures and detailed description. It is intended that all such additional systems, methods, features and advantages be included within this description, be within the scope of the present invention, and be protected by the accompanying claims. Component parts shown in the drawings are not necessarily to scale, and may be exaggerated to better illustrate the important features of the present invention. In the drawings, like reference numerals designate like parts throughout the different views, wherein:
  • [0016]
    FIG. 1 is a block diagram showing an exemplary client-server system architecture for generating vehicle repair estimate reports based on predictive estimating, and transmitting these reports to clients via graphical user interfaces according to an embodiment of the invention.
  • [0017]
    FIG. 2 is a block diagram showing another exemplary client-server system architecture for generating vehicle repair estimate reports based on predictive estimating, and transmitting these reports to clients via vehicle repair claims management user interfaces or via graphical user interfaces according to an embodiment of the invention.
  • [0018]
    FIG. 3 is a flow chart of an exemplary method for generating vehicle repair estimate reports based on predictive estimating, and transmitting these reports to clients via graphical user interfaces according to an embodiment of the invention.
  • [0019]
    FIG. 4 is a flow chart of an exemplary method for generating vehicle repair estimate reports based on predictive estimating, and transmitting these reports to clients via vehicle repair claims management user interfaces or via graphical user interfaces according to an embodiment of the invention.
  • [0020]
    FIG. 5 is a screenshot of an exemplary graphical user interface requesting a client to provide log-in credentials or in the alternative, new account information for creation of an account according to an embodiment of the invention.
  • [0021]
    FIG. 6 is a screenshot of an exemplary graphical user interface requesting a client to provide vehicle identification information according to an embodiment of the invention.
  • [0022]
    FIG. 7 is a screenshot of an exemplary graphical user interface requesting a client to select a damaged major vehicle part according to an embodiment of the invention.
  • [0023]
    FIG. 8 is a screenshot of an exemplary graphical user interface showing a portion of a vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating according to an embodiment of the invention.
  • [0024]
    FIG. 9 is a screenshot of an exemplary graphical user interface further showing a portion of the vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating shown in FIG. 8 according to an embodiment of the invention.
  • [0025]
    FIG. 10 is a screenshot of an exemplary graphical user interface further showing a portion of the vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating shown in FIGS. 9-10 according to an embodiment of the invention.
  • [0026]
    FIG. 11 is a screenshot of an exemplary graphical user interface further showing a portion of the vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating shown in FIGS. 8-10 according to an embodiment of the invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • [0027]
    FIG. 1 is a block diagram showing an exemplary client-server system architecture for generating vehicle repair estimate reports based on predictive estimating, and transmitting these reports to clients via graphical user interfaces. Clients 10 a-10 e communicate with master server 14 through a graphical user interface 12 by way of data transfer over suitable communication networks 13 and 11 a-11 e, respectively. It is understood by those skilled in the art that master server 14 has the capability to communicate with a single client, such as client 10 a, or a plurality of clients, such as clients 10 a-10 e.
  • [0028]
    In one embodiment, client 10 a comprises a desktop computer. For brevity, any discussion of client 10 a is equally applicable to each of clients 10 b-10 e. In another embodiment, client 10 a comprises a tablet computer. It is understood by those skilled in the art that each of clients 10 a-10 e can take many different forms, including but not limited to a desktop computer, laptop computer, tablet computer, cellular smart phone, or any computer with a suitable operating system. It is understood by those skilled in the art that a suitable operating system can take many different forms, including but not limited to Microsoft Windows, Mac Operating System, Google Android, iPhone Operating System, iPad Operating System, or any operating system capable of providing a graphical user interface. The users of clients 10 a-10 e may comprise vehicle repair shops, vehicle dealerships, insurance company claim appraisers and adjusters, vehicle owners, and any other similar personnel.
  • [0029]
    In one embodiment, suitable communication network 11 a comprises the Internet. For brevity, any discussion of suitable communication network 11 a is equally applicable to each of suitable communication networks 11 b-11 e, 13, 16 a-16 c, 17, and 19. In another embodiment, suitable communication network 11 a comprises a wireless cellular network. It is understood by those skilled in the art that each of suitable communication networks 11 a-11 e, 13, 16 a-16 c, 17, and 19 may take many different forms, including but not limited to the Internet, wireless cellular network, local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), wired telephone network, wireless network, or any other network that supports data communication between the respective entities.
  • [0030]
    Master server 14 provides graphical user interface 12 to clients 10 a-10 e by way of data transfer over suitable communication networks 13 and 11 a-11 e, respectively. In one embodiment, graphical user interface 12 comprises a web-based graphical user interface, such as a website. In another embodiment, graphical user interface 12 comprises a tablet-based graphical user interface, such as an “App.” It is understood by those skilled in the art that graphical user interface 12 can take many forms, including but not limited to a web-based graphical user interface such as a website, tablet-based graphical user interface such as an “App,” cellular smart phone-based graphical user interface such as an “App,” computer program, or any other suitable graphical user interface.
  • [0031]
    In one embodiment, master server 14 comprises a network server serviced by a vehicle manufacturer, and configured with the appropriate processing, memory and storage capacity to handle the load of servicing a plurality of clients 10 a-10 e. It is understood by those skilled in the art that master server 14 can take many different forms, including but not limited to a web server, file server, database server, proxy server, FTP server, and any other server configured with the appropriate processing, memory and storage capacity to handle the load of servicing a plurality of clients. As an example, more than one master server may be needed to provide additional processing, memory and storage capacity to handle the load of servicing a plurality of clients 10 a-10 e. Furthermore, master server 14 can be serviced by other entities, as it is not limited to the control and operation by a vehicle manufacturer.
  • [0032]
    Master server 14 communicates with a database 15 a by way of data transfer over a suitable communication network 16 a. Like master server 14, database 15 a is serviced by the vehicle manufacturer. However, database 15 a can be serviced by other entities, as it is not limited to the control and operation by a vehicle manufacturer. For brevity, any discussion of database 15 a is equally applicable to each of databases 15 b-15 c. Likewise, any discussion of communication network 16 a is equally applicable to each of communication networks 16 b-16 c. Master server 14 has the capability to communicate with a single database, such as database 15 a, or with a plurality of database, such as databases 15 a-15 c. Accordingly, master server 14 can communicate with databases 15 a-15 c by way of data transfer over suitable communication networks 16 a-16 c, respectively. In one embodiment, suitable communication network 16 a comprises a local area network (LAN). As previously discussed, it is understood by those skilled in the art that suitable communication networks 16 a-16 c may take many different forms, including but not limited to the Internet, wireless cellular network, local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), wired telephone network, wireless network, or any other network that supports data communication between the respective entities. Alternatively, databases 15 a may reside within master server 14, thereby relinquishing the need for suitable communication networks 16 a.
  • [0033]
    Databases 15 a-15 c store information used by master server 14 to generate vehicle repair estimate reports based on predictive estimating. Information stored in databases 15 a-15 c include but is not limited to information relating to vehicle identification, VIN, vehicle specifications, vehicle parts and part numbers, suggested prices for vehicle parts, suggested labor time for repair, one-time use parts, hazardous material parts, operation codes, paint codes, manufacturer-recommended installation instructions, manufacturer-recommended repair instructions, log-in credentials, and client account. The information can be stored in a single database, such as database 15 a, or in a plurality of databases, such as databases 15 a-15 c. The information stored in databases 15 a-15 c may be continually updated as necessary. As detailed below, master server 14 generates vehicle repair estimate reports based on predictive estimating using information derived and processed from clients 10 a-10 e and databases 15 a-15 c.
  • [0034]
    The claimed methods for generating and transmitting vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating can be provided as a subscription-based service. Also, the methods can provide clients with the option for purchasing the suggested replacement parts in the vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating. Thus, the exemplary embodiment of FIG. 1 includes means for receiving and processing payment information. Therefore, master server 14 can communicate with billing service 18 by way of data transfer via suitable communication network 17. Billing service 18 processes the payment information. In one embodiment, billing service 18 is an in-house billing department. In another embodiment, billing service 18 is third-party billing service company. Further, master server 14 can communicate with parts fulfillment department 190 via suitable communication network 19. Parts fulfillment department 190 fulfills client 10 a's order requests for the suggested replacement parts. In one embodiment, parts fulfillment department 190 is an in-house parts fulfillment department. In another embodiment, parts fulfillment department is an independent parts manufacturer or distributor.
  • [0035]
    FIG. 2 is a block diagram showing another exemplary client-server system architecture for generating vehicle repair estimate reports based on predictive estimating, and transmitting these reports to clients via vehicle repair claims management user interfaces or via graphical user interfaces. The reference numbers in FIG. 1 are re-used in FIG. 2 to indicate correspondence between referenced elements. The exemplary embodiment of FIG. 1 generates and transmits vehicle report estimate reports based on predictive estimating directly to clients 10 a-10 e via graphical user interface 12. The exemplary embodiment of FIG. 2 extends the exemplary embodiment of FIG. 1 to allow for the generation and transmission of vehicle repair reports based on predictive estimating to vehicle repair claims management clients 22 a-22 c and clients 20 a-20 c, 26 a-26 c, and 29 a-29 c, via vehicle repair claims management user interfaces 30 a-30 c. Clients 20 a-20 c, 26 a-26 c, and 29 a-29 c are similar to clients 10 a-10 e. The motivation for this extension is based on industry norms as to how vehicle repair shops typically prepare a vehicle repair estimate. Typically, to prepare a vehicle repair estimate, a vehicle repair shop accesses a graphical user interface serviced by one of the following three vehicle repair management companies: Mitchell International, Audatex, or CCC One. Through any of these three graphical user interfaces, an à-la-carte listing of all vehicle parts and price estimates associated with a particular vehicle are provided to the vehicle repair shop. Vehicle repair shops are accustomed to using one of these three graphical user interfaces because vehicle repair estimates prepared using any of these three graphical user interfaces are often approved by most major insurance companies, thereby streamlining the repair estimate approval and reimbursement process. Therefore, for purposes of convenience and industry norms, the exemplary embodiment of FIG. 2 extends this present invention to allow for the generation and transmission of vehicle repair reports based on predictive estimating to vehicle repair claims management clients 22 a-22 c and clients 20 a-20 c, 26 a-26 c, and 29 a-29 c, via vehicle repair claims management user interfaces 30 a-30 c.
  • [0036]
    As shown in FIG. 2, master server 14 communicates with a plurality of clients 10 a-10 e via graphical user interface 12 and a plurality of vehicle repair claims management clients 22 a-22 c and plurality of clients 20 a-20 c, 26 a-26 c, and 29 a-29 c, via vehicle repair claims management user interfaces 30 a-30 c, respectively. For brevity, the corresponding suitable communication networks are presumed. For example, the corresponding suitable communication networks associated with master server 14's communication with client 20 a comprises suitable communication networks 23 a and 21 a. Master server 14 has the capability to communicate with only one client, such as client 10 a or client 20 a, or with only one vehicle repair claims management client, such as vehicle repair claims management client 22 a, or a plurality of the foregoing. For brevity, any discussion of vehicle repair claims management client 22 a is equally applicable to each of vehicle repair claims management clients 22 b-22 c. Likewise, any discussion of vehicle repair claims management user interface 30 a is equally applicable to each of vehicle repair claims management user interface 30 b-30 c.
  • [0037]
    Vehicle repair claims management client 22 a provides vehicle repair claims management user interface 30 a by way of data transfer over suitable communication network 31 a. In one embodiment, vehicle repair claims management user interface 30 a comprises of a web-based graphical user interface, such as a website, serviced primarily by vehicle repair claims management client 22 a. In another embodiment, vehicle repair claims management user interface 30 a comprises of a tablet-based graphical user interface, such as an “App,” serviced primarily by vehicle repair claims management client 22 a. It is understood by those skilled in the art that vehicle repair claims management user interface 30 a can take many forms, including but not limited to a web-based graphical user interface such as a website, tablet-based graphical user interface such as an “App,” cellular smart phone-based graphical user interface such as an “App,” computer program, or any other suitable graphical user interface.
  • [0038]
    Clients 20 a-20 c communicate with master server 14 through vehicle repair claims management user interface 30 a by way of data transfer over suitable communication networks 21 a-21 c, and 23 a, respectively, as shown in FIG. 2. Similarly, clients 26 a-26 c communicate with master server 14 through vehicle repair claims management user interface 30 b by way of data transfer over suitable communication networks 24 a-24 c, and 23 a, respectively, as shown in FIG. 2. Finally, clients 29 a-29 c communicate with master server 14 through vehicle repair claims management user interface 30 c by way of data transfer over suitable communication networks 27 a-27 c, and 23 c, respectively, as shown in FIG. 2.
  • [0039]
    As in the exemplary embodiment of FIG. 1, it is understood to one skilled in the art that each of suitable communication networks 21 a-21 c, 24 a-24 c, 27 a-27 c, 23 a-23 c, and 31 a-31 c may take many different forms, including but not limited to the Internet, wireless cellular network, local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), wired telephone network, wireless network, or any other network that supports data communication between the respective entities.
  • [0040]
    As in exemplary embodiment of FIG. 1, it is understood to one skilled in the art that each of clients 20 a-20 c, 26 a-26 c, and 29 a-29 c can take many different forms, including but not limited to a desktop computer, laptop computer, tablet computer, cellular smart phone, or any computer with a suitable operating system. It is understood by those skilled in the art that a suitable operating system can take many different forms, including but not limited to Microsoft Windows, Mac Operating System, Google Android, iPhone Operating System, iPad Operating System, or any operating system capable of providing a graphical user interface. The users of clients 20 a-20 c, 26 a-26 c, and 29 a-29 c can be vehicle repair shops, vehicle dealerships, insurance company claim appraisers and adjusters, vehicle owners, or any other similar personnel.
  • [0041]
    As detailed below, master server 14 generates vehicle repair estimate reports based on predictive estimating using information derived and processed from vehicle repair claims management clients 22 a-22 c, clients 10 a-10 e, 20 a-20 c, 26 a-26 c, 29 a-29 c, and databases 15 a-15 c.
  • [0042]
    Referring now to FIG. 3, an exemplary method for generating vehicle repair estimate reports based on predictive estimating and delivering these reports to clients via graphical user interfaces are described in more detail. The reference numbers in FIGS. 1-2 are re-used in the discussion of this exemplary method of FIG. 3 to indicate correspondence between referenced elements. This exemplary method can be performed using either of the exemplary embodiments presented in FIGS. 1-2.
  • [0043]
    This method begins at step 300, with master server 14 providing graphical user interface 12 to clients 10 a-10 e by way of data transfer via suitable communication networks 13 and 11 a-11 e, respectively. Master server 14 services graphical user interface 12. Various screenshots of an exemplary graphical user interface are presented in FIGS. 5-11, and described in further detail below.
  • [0044]
    At step 301, master server 14 requests client 10 a to provide vehicle identification information through graphical user interface 12. For brevity, any discussion of client 10 a is equally applicable to each of clients 10 b-10 c. Likewise, any discussion of suitable communication network 11 a is equally applicable to each of suitable communication networks 11 b-11 e. Additionally, for purposes of brevity, the corresponding suitable communication networks are presumed. For example, the corresponding suitable communication networks associated with master server 14's communication with client 10 a comprises suitable communication networks 13 and 11 a, as shown in FIGS. 1-2. Typically, for a vehicle in the United States, the vehicle identification information comprises a vehicle identification number, commonly known to one skilled in the art as VIN. A VIN comprises a 17-digit alphanumeric code corresponding to a specific vehicle's year, make, model, trim, color, and manufacturer-installed options. To the extent that vehicles can be identified in a manner different from a VIN, the present invention is configurable to allow for the identification of vehicles based on these alternative means of identification. FIG. 6 presents a screenshot of an exemplary graphical user interface requesting a client for the vehicle's YIN.
  • [0045]
    At step 302, master server 14 receives the requested vehicle identification information from client 10 a via graphical user interface 12 and suitable communication networks 11 a and 13.
  • [0046]
    At step 303, master server 14 validates the provided vehicle identification information. Database 15 a stores a database of vehicle identification information. For brevity, any discussion of database 15 a is equally applicable to each of databases 15 b-15 c. Therefore, master server 14 validates the provided vehicle identification information by matching up the provided vehicle identification information with one stored in database 15 a. If master server 14 finds a match, then step 305 commences.
  • [0047]
    However, if master server 14 does not find a match, then master server 14 requests client 10 a to again provide vehicle identification information, as represented by step 304. Steps 301-304 are repeated until master server 14 validates the provided vehicle identification information.
  • [0048]
    At step 305, master server 14 generates a listing of major vehicle parts associated with the validated vehicle identification information by retrieving from database 15 a major vehicle parts associated with the validated vehicle identification information. Master server 14 can customize at any time this database of major vehicle parts by adding, removing, or modifying any major vehicle part associated with a particular vehicle.
  • [0049]
    At step 306, master server 14 transits the listing of major vehicle parts associated with the validated vehicle information to client 10 a via graphical user interface 12. At step 307, master server 14 requests from client 10 a to select via graphical user interface 12 a damaged major vehicle part from this listing. FIG. 7 presents a screenshot of an exemplary graphical user interface requesting a client for the selection of a damaged major vehicle part using scroll-down window 70. As shown in FIG. 7, examples of a major vehicle part include, but are not limited to, left front door skin, left rear door, left quarter panel, and rear bumper body floor. As previously discussed, master server 14 can customize at any time its database of major vehicle parts by adding, removing, or modifying any major vehicle part associated with a particular vehicle.
  • [0050]
    At step 308, master server 14 receives from client 10 a a selected damaged major vehicle part via graphical user interface 12.
  • [0051]
    At step 309, master server 14 generates a vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating based on information derived and processed from databases 15 a-15 c and client 10 a. FIGS. 8-11 presents various screenshots of an exemplary graphical user interface showing an exemplary vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating. This predictive estimating approach is based on the concept that a more accurate vehicle repair estimate is realized when the vehicle repair estimator begins an estimate with a comprehensive listing of all the parts likely to be damaged. This comprehensive listing is prepared by the vehicle manufacturer to ensure that the proper expertise is utilized in evaluating a vehicle repair. With a comprehensive listing of all parts likely to be damaged, the vehicle repair estimator can then eliminate parts he or she deems unnecessary based on his or her expertise. Vehicle repair estimation based on elimination of parts ensures that the vehicle repair estimators do not miss key repair parts, particularly one-time use parts. By contrast, when an estimate begins essentially with a blank sheet, there is a higher likelihood that the vehicle repair estimator may miss key repair parts, thereby resulting in increased dangers of safety. As previously discussed, the current graphical user interfaces provided by vehicle repair claims management companies such as Mitchell International, Audatex, and CCC One essentially provide estimators with a blank sheet approach whereby estimators, based on his or her expertise, select replacement parts from the à-la-carte listing of all vehicle parts associated with a particular vehicle.
  • [0052]
    After receiving the selected damaged major vehicle part from client 10 a, master server 14 retrieves from database 15 a a listing of all parts that a vehicle manufacturer recommends replacing based on the selected damaged major vehicle part. This listing is pre-set by the vehicle manufacturer based on the selected damaged major vehicle part. Typically, the vehicle manufacturer utilizes its expertise to determine which parts are likely damaged based on the selected damaged major vehicle part and accordingly, will include the likely damaged vehicle parts in this pre-set listing. However, master server 14 can customize at any time this pre-set listing by adding, removing, or modifying any vehicle parts to this listing.
  • [0053]
    After master server 14 retrieves the vehicle manufacturer-recommended listing of parts to replace, master server 14 then retrieves from databases 15 a-15 c all relevant vehicle repair information associated with these parts. This step requires master server 14 to process a large volume of information because various pieces of relevant vehicle repair information pertaining to each recommended replacement part may be stored in different databases. The relevant vehicle repair information may comprise information relating to vehicle identification, VIN, vehicle specifications, vehicle parts and part numbers, suggested prices for vehicle parts, suggested labor time for repair, one-time use parts, hazardous materials parts, operation codes, paint codes, manufacturer-recommended installation instructions, and manufacturer-recommended repair instructions. This large volume of information stems from the simple fact that there are hundreds of different vehicle models, compounded by the hundreds of different parts per vehicle model, hence there could easily be thousands if not millions of vehicle parts for master server 14 to process. In processing this large volume of information, master server 14 identifies and extracts from databases 15 a-15 c various pieces of information applicable to each recommended replacement part.
  • [0054]
    After extracting from databases 15 a-15 c the various pieces of information applicable to each recommended replacement part, master server 14 then repackages all this information into different repair packages. These repair packages are essentially subcategories conveniently grouped according to the type and/or location of the damage. As shown in FIGS. 9-10, some examples of subcategories include rear bumper 902, rear lamps 903, trunk lid 904, seats and tracks 105, wheels 106, emission system 107, exhaust system 108, and electrical 109. Master server 14 then generates a listing of the vehicle parts within each subcategory, as shown in FIGS. 9-10. As shown in FIGS. 9-10, the vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating presents each vehicle part with information relating to an operation code, description of part, part number, quantity, extended price, labor code, paint code, one-time use part, hazardous material part, manufacturer-recommended installation and repair instructions. Master server 14 can customize at any time this report to add, delete, or modify any of the foregoing vehicle repair information. As shown in FIG. 8, the vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating also includes vehicle identification and specification information.
  • [0055]
    At step 310, master server 14 transmits the vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating to graphical user interface 12 via suitable communication network 13. At step 311, master server 14 provides client 10 a with an option to remove any vehicle parts listed on this report based on client 10 a's discretion.
  • [0056]
    At step 312 a, master server 14 receives client 10 a's request to remove at least one part from the report and generates an updated vehicle report estimate report accordingly. At step 313, master server 14 transmits the updated vehicle repair report to client 10 a via graphical user interface 12. Steps 310-313 can be repeated until master server 14 receives client 10 a's declination as to removing any vehicle parts from the report. The vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating can be customized in many different ways depending on the clients' needs and wishes. Thus, a client is not limited to only the option of removing at least one specific part from the report.
  • [0057]
    At step 312 b, master server 14 receives client 10 a's declination as to removing any vehicle parts from the report. At step 314, master server 14 provides client 10 a with an option to select an additional damaged major vehicle part to include in the vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating. At step 315, if master server 14 receives client 10 a's request to include an additional damaged major vehicle part in the report, then steps 308-314 are repeatedly until master server 14 receives client 10 a's declination as to the selection of any other additional damaged major vehicle part at step 316.
  • [0058]
    At step 317, master server 14 finalizes the vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating. At step 318, master server 14 transmits the finalized vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating to client 10 a via graphical user interface 12.
  • [0059]
    At step 319, master server 14 provides client 10 a with an option to purchase any vehicle part listed in the finalized vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating.
  • [0060]
    At step 320 a, master server 14 receives client 10 a's order request to purchase at least one vehicle part listed in the finalized vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating. Alternatively, at step 320 b, master server 14 receives client 10 a's declination to purchase any parts listed in the finalized vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating.
  • [0061]
    At step 321, master server 14 transmits client 10 a's order request to the parts fulfillment department 190 and to billing service 18 for fulfillment of the order request.
  • [0062]
    FIG. 4 is a flow chart of an exemplary method for generating vehicle repair estimate reports based on predictive estimating, and transmitting these reports to clients via vehicle repair claims management user interfaces or via graphical user interfaces. The reference numbers in FIGS. 1-2 are re-used in the discussion of this exemplary method of FIG. 4 to indicate correspondence between referenced elements. This exemplary method of FIG. 4 operates in a similar manner as the exemplary method of FIG. 3. Thus, the last two numbers in the referenced items in FIG. 4 correspond to a similar step in FIG. 3. For example, step 301 in FIG. 3 is similar to step 401 in FIG. 4. Therefore, any previous discussion of step 301 in FIG. 3 is likewise applicable to step 401 in FIG. 4. This exemplary method of FIG. 4 can be performed using the exemplary embodiment presented in FIG. 2. As previously discussed in FIG. 2, any discussion of vehicle repair claims management user interface 30 a is equally applicable to each of vehicle repair claims management user interfaces 30 b-30 c. Likewise, any discussion of client 20 a is equally applicable to each of clients 20 b-20 c, 26 a-26 c, and 29 a-29 c.
  • [0063]
    In one embodiment, master server 14 communicates with vehicle repair claims management user interface 30 a using an application programming interface, commonly referred by one skilled in the art as API. In another embodiment, master server 14 communicates with vehicle repair claims management user interface 30 a using SIM Application Toolkit, commonly referred by one skilled in the art as STK. It is understood to one skilled in the art that master server 14 can communicate with vehicle repair claims management user interface 30 a using API, STK, or any other protocol allowing for real-time interaction between the respective entities.
  • [0064]
    The exemplary method of FIG. 4 begins at step 401. At step 401, master server 14 requests client 20 a to provide vehicle identification information through vehicle repair claims management user interface 30 a. For brevity, any discussion of client 20 a is equally applicable to each of clients 20 b-20 c, 26 a-26 c, and 29 a-29 c. Likewise, any discussion of suitable communication network 21 a is equally applicable to each of suitable communication networks 21 b-21 c, 24 a-24 c, and 27 a-27 c. Additionally, for purposes of brevity, the corresponding suitable communication networks are presumed. For example, the corresponding suitable communication networks associated with master server 14's communication with client 20 a comprises suitable communication networks 23 a and 21 a, as shown in FIG. 2. Typically, for a vehicle in the United States, the vehicle identification information comprises a vehicle identification number, commonly known to one skilled in the art as VIN. A VIN comprises a 17-digit alphanumeric code corresponding to a specific vehicle's year, make, model, trim, color, and manufacturer-installed options. To the extent that vehicles can be identified in a manner different from a VIN, the present invention is configurable to allow for the identification of vehicles based on these alternative means of identification. FIG. 6 presents a screenshot of an exemplary graphical user interface requesting a client for the vehicle's VIN.
  • [0065]
    At step 402, master server 14 receives the requested vehicle identification information from client 20 a via vehicle repair claims management user interface 30 a and suitable communication networks 21 a and 23 a. At step 403, master server 14 validates the provided vehicle identification information. Database 15 a stores a database of vehicle identification information. For brevity, any discussion of database 15 a is equally applicable to each of databases 15 b-15 c. Therefore, master server 14 validates the provided vehicle identification information by matching up the provided vehicle identification information with one stored in database 15 a. If master server 14 finds a match, then step 405 commences.
  • [0066]
    However, if master server 14 does not find a match, then master server 14 requests client 20 a to again provide vehicle identification information, as represented by step 404. Steps 401-404 are repeated until master server 14 validates the provided vehicle identification information.
  • [0067]
    At step 405, master server 14 generates a listing of major vehicle parts associated with the validated vehicle identification information by retrieving from database 15 a major vehicle parts associated with the validated vehicle identification information. Master server 14 can customize at any time this database of major vehicle parts by adding, removing, or modifying any major vehicle part associated with a particular vehicle, if desired.
  • [0068]
    At step 406, master server 14 transits the listing of major vehicle parts associated with the validated vehicle information to client 20 a via vehicle repair claims management user interface 30 a. At step 407, master server 14 requests from client 20 a to select via vehicle repair claims management user interface 30 a a damaged major vehicle part from this listing. FIG. 7 presents a screenshot of an exemplary graphical user interface requesting a client for the selection of a damaged major vehicle part using scroll-down window 70. As shown in FIG. 7, examples of a major vehicle part include, but are not limited to, left front door skin, left rear door, left quarter panel, and rear bumper body floor. As previously discussed, master server 14 can customize at any time its database of major vehicle parts by adding, removing, or modifying any major vehicle part associated with a particular vehicle, if desired.
  • [0069]
    At step 408, master server 14 receives from client 20 a a selected damaged major vehicle part via vehicle repair claims management user interface 30 a.
  • [0070]
    At step 409, master server 14 generates a vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating based on information derived and processed from databases 15 a-15 c and client 20 a. FIGS. 8-11 presents various screenshots of an exemplary graphical user interface showing an exemplary vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating. After receiving the selected damaged major vehicle part from client 20 a, master server 14 retrieves from database 15 a a listing of all parts that a vehicle manufacturer recommends replacing based on the selected damaged major vehicle part. This listing is pre-set by the vehicle manufacturer based on the selected damaged major vehicle part. Typically, the vehicle manufacturer utilizes its expertise to determine which parts are likely damaged based on the selected damaged major vehicle part and accordingly, will include the likely damaged vehicle parts in this pre-set listing. However, master server 14 can customize at any time this pre-set listing by adding, removing, or modifying any vehicle parts to this listing.
  • [0071]
    After master server 14 retrieves the vehicle manufacturer-recommended listing of parts to replace, master server 14 then retrieves from databases 15 a-15 c all relevant vehicle repair information associated with these parts. This step requires master server 14 to process a large volume of information because various pieces of relevant vehicle repair information pertaining to each recommended replacement part may be stored in different databases. The relevant vehicle repair information may comprise information relating to vehicle identification, YIN, vehicle specifications, vehicle parts and part numbers, suggested prices for vehicle parts, suggested labor time for repair, one-time use parts, hazardous materials parts, operation codes, paint codes, manufacturer-recommended installation instructions, and manufacturer-recommended repair instructions. This large volume of information stems from the simple fact that there are hundreds of different vehicle models, compounded by the hundreds of different parts per vehicle model, hence there could easily be thousands if not millions of vehicle parts for master server 14 to process. In processing this large volume of information, master server 14 identifies and extracts from databases 15 a-15 c various pieces of information applicable to each recommended replacement part.
  • [0072]
    After extracting from databases 15 a-15 c the various pieces of information applicable to each recommended replacement part, master server 14 then repackages all this information into different repair packages. These repair packages are essentially subcategories conveniently grouped according to the type and/or location of the damage. As shown in FIGS. 9-10, some examples of subcategories include rear bumper 902, rear lamps 903, trunk lid 904, seats and tracks 105, wheels 106, emission system 107, exhaust system 108, and electrical 109. Master server 14 then generates a listing of the vehicle parts within each subcategory, as shown in FIGS. 9-10. As shown in FIGS. 9-10, the vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating presents each vehicle part with information relating to an operation code, description of part, part number, quantity, extended price, labor code, paint code, one-time use part, hazardous material part, manufacturer-recommended installation and repair instructions. Master server 14 can customize this report to add, delete, or modify any of the foregoing vehicle repair information. As shown in FIG. 8, the vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating also includes vehicle identification and specification information.
  • [0073]
    At step 410, master server 14 transmits the vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating to vehicle repair claims management user interface 30 a via suitable communication network 23 a. At step 411, master server 14 provides client 20 a with an option to remove any vehicle parts listed on this report based on client 20 a's discretion.
  • [0074]
    At step 412 a, master server 14 receives client 20 a's request to remove at least one part from the report and generates an updated vehicle report estimate report accordingly. At step 413, master server 14 transmits the updated vehicle repair report to client 20 a via vehicle repair claims management user interface 30 a. Steps 410-413 can be repeated until master server 14 receives client 20 a's declination as to removing any vehicle parts from the report. The vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating can be customized in many different ways depending on the clients' needs and wishes. Thus, a client is not limited to only the option of removing at least one specific part from the report.
  • [0075]
    At step 412 b, master server 14 receives client 20 a's declination as to removing any vehicle parts from the report. At step 414, master server 14 provides client 20 a with an option to select an additional damaged major vehicle part to include in the vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating. At step 415, if master server 14 receives client 20 a's request to include an additional damaged major vehicle part in the report, then steps 408-414 are repeatedly until master server 14 receives client 20 a's declination as to the selection of any other additional damaged major vehicle part at step 416.
  • [0076]
    At step 417, master server 14 finalizes the vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating. At step 418, master server 14 transmits the finalized vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating to client 20 a via vehicle repair claims management user interface 30 a.
  • [0077]
    At step 419, master server 14 provides client 20 a with an option to purchase any vehicle part listed in the finalized vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating.
  • [0078]
    At step 420 a, master server 14 receives client 20 a's order request to purchase at least one vehicle part listed in the finalized vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating. Alternatively, at step 420 b, master server 14 receives client 20 a's declination to purchase any parts listed in the finalized vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating.
  • [0079]
    At step 421, master server 14 transmits client 20 a's order request to the parts fulfillment department 190 and to billing service 18 for fulfillment of the order request.
  • [0080]
    FIG. 5 is a screenshot of an exemplary graphical user interface requesting a client to provide log-in credentials or in the alternative, new account information for creation of an account. Window 50 requests the client to provide a log-in username and window 51 request the client to provide a corresponding password. “Remember Me” option box 52 provides the client with an option of remembering the client's log-in username for future visits. After inputting the client's log-in username and corresponding password, the client will click on “Log in” button 53 to proceed to a graphical user interface for inputting vehicle identification information, as shown in FIG. 6.
  • [0081]
    Furthermore, in the alternative, the exemplary graphical user interface of FIG. 5 requests a new client to create an account. Window 55 requests a new client to provide a desired log-in username, window 56 requests a desired password, and window 27 request the client's email address. After inputting the client's desired username, password, and email address, the client will click on “Create” button 58 to create an account. Master server 14 may request additional new account information. For example, the methods may be offered as a subscription-based service, and master server 14 may request valid payment information in order to create a new account.
  • [0082]
    FIG. 6 is a screenshot of an exemplary graphical user interface requesting a client to provide vehicle identification information. Window 60 requests the client to provide the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). After inputting the VIN, the client clicks on the “Submit” button 65 to proceed to a graphical user interface for selecting a damaged vehicle part, as shown in FIG. 7.
  • [0083]
    FIG. 7 is a screenshot of an exemplary graphical user interface requesting a client to select a damaged major vehicle part. Toggle window 70 allows the client to select a major damaged vehicle part. The listing of the major vehicle parts under toggle window 70 is customizable. As shown in toggle window 70, some examples of major damaged vehicle parts are left front door skin, left rear door, left quarter panel, and rear bumper body floor. After selecting the major vehicle part damaged, the client clicks on the “Go” button to proceed to a graphical user interface showing a vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating, as shown in FIGS. 5-8.
  • [0084]
    FIG. 8 is a screenshot of an exemplary graphical user interface showing a portion of a vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating. In particular, FIG. 8 shows vehicle identification and technical specification information. Table 80 shows basic vehicle information such as the year, make, model, color, body style, engine, production date, condition, VIN, license, state, job number, mileage in, mileage out, and vehicle out. Table 81 provides further technical specifications of the vehicle, such as the vehicle's transmission, power, décor, convenience, radio, safety, seats, wheels, paint, and other.
  • [0085]
    FIG. 9 is a screenshot of an exemplary graphical user interface further showing a portion of the vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating shown in FIG. 8. In particular, FIG. 9 shows various repair packages, the suggested replacement parts, the part numbers for the suggested replacement parts, the price estimate for the suggested replacement parts, among other information. Toggle window 90 allows the client to select a different or an additional major damaged vehicle part. Upon selection of a different or an additional major damaged vehicle part in toggle window, the client will click on “Go” button 91. Item 92 provides the line item number. Each line item number corresponds to a different vehicle part. Item 93 provides the operation code. Each operation is tied to a specific operation code. Every part is associated with an operation code. However, one operation code may comprise of many parts. Operation codes are customizable. Item 95 provides the part number. Item 96 provides the suggested quantity of a specific part. Item 97 provides the suggested/extended price of the specific part. Item 98 provides the suggested labor time for the repair associated with a specific part. Item 99 provides the paint code for the specific part. The paint code provides the suggested labor time required for painting the specific part. Some parts do not have a paint code because painting is not required for that specific part. Items 902, 903, and 904 are different repair packages. As previously discussed, specific parts are group together under a repair package based on the location and/or type of the damage. Item 902 is a rear bumper repair package. Item 903 is a rear lamps repair package. Item 904 is trunk lid repair package. Item 901 provides manufacturer-recommended repair instructions, which can be accessed by clicking on icon button 901.
  • [0086]
    FIG. 10 is a screenshot of an exemplary graphical user interface further showing a portion of the vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating shown in FIGS. 9-10. In particular, FIG. 10 shows various repair packages, the suggested replacement parts, the part numbers for the suggested replacement parts, the price estimate for the suggested replacement parts, among other information. Item 100 is a table providing the estimate totals. Item 101 is the category column of the estimate totals table. Item 102 is the basis hours column of the estimate totals table. Item 103 is the rate column of the estimate totals table. Item 104 is the total cost column of the estimate totals table. Item 1001 shows the total costs for the parts. Item 1002 shows the total costs for the body labor hours. Item 1003 shows the total costs for the paint labor hours. Item 1004 shows the subtotal and item 1005 shows the grand total. Items 105, 106, 107, 108, and 109 shows different repair packages. As previously discussed, specific parts are group together under a repair package based on the location and/or type of the damage. Item 105 shows a seats and trucks repair package, item 106 shows a wheels repair package, item 107 shows an emission system repair package, item 108 shows an exhaust system repair package, and item 109 shows an electrical repair package.
  • [0087]
    FIG. 11 is a screenshot of an exemplary graphical user interface further showing a portion of the vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating shown in FIGS. 8-10. In particular, FIG. 11 shows a collision repair instruction that is accessed directly from the vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating shown in FIGS. 8-10. Icon button 111 is equivalent to icon button 901 in FIG. 9. Thus, icon button 111 provides manufacturer-recommended repair instructions, which can be accessed by clicking on icon button 111. Item 110 provides the manufacturer-recommended repair instructions associated with plastic bumper refinishing that is accessed by clicking on icon button 111.
  • [0088]
    Exemplary embodiments of the invention have been disclosed in an illustrative style. Accordingly, the terminology employed throughout should be read in a non-limiting manner. Although minor modifications to the teachings herein will occur to those well versed in the art, it shall be understood that what is intended to be circumscribed within the scope of the patent warranted hereon are all such embodiments that reasonably fall within the scope of the advancement to the art hereby contributed, and that that scope shall not be restricted, except in light of the appended claims and their equivalents.

Claims (20)

    What is claimed is:
  1. 1. A method for generating a vehicle repair report based on predictive estimating, and transmitting said report to a client, comprising the steps of:
    (a) providing, using at least one master server, a graphical user interface to said client;
    (b) requesting, using said at least one master server, vehicle identification information from said client via said graphical user interface;
    (c) receiving, using said at least one master server, said vehicle identification information from said client via said graphical user interface;
    (d) validating, using said at least one master server and at least one database, said vehicle identification information;
    (e) generating, using said at least one master server and said at least one database, a listing of major vehicle parts associated with said vehicle identification information;
    (f) transmitting, using said at least one master server, to said client via said graphical user interface said listing of major vehicle parts associated with said vehicle identification information;
    (g) requesting, using said at least one master server, said client to select a major vehicle part from said listing, via said graphical user interface;
    (h) receiving, using said at least one master server, said selected major vehicle part from said client, via said graphical user interface;
    (i) retrieving, using said at least one master server and said at least one database, stored relevant vehicle repair information relating to said selected major vehicle part;
    (j) generating, using said at least one master server and said at least one database, said vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating, wherein said report comprises repair packages and corresponding vehicle repair information;
    (k) transmitting, using said at least one master server, said report to said client via said graphical user interface; and
    (l) providing, using said at least one master server, said client an option to request for removal at least one vehicle part from said report via said graphical user interface, and if said at least one master server receives from said client said request to remove said at least one vehicle part, then generating, using said at least one master server and said at least one database, an updated vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating removing said at least one vehicle part, and transmitting, using said at least one master sever, said updated report to said client via said graphical user interface.
  2. 2. The method of claim 1, further comprising the step of:
    repeating steps (g) through (l) to provide said client an option to add another major vehicle part from said listing to said report or to said updated report.
  3. 3. The method of claim 1, further comprising the step of:
    providing, using said at least one master server, said client an option to request for purchase at least one vehicle part from said report or from said updated report, via said graphical user interface.
  4. 4. The method of claim 3, further comprising the step of:
    receiving, using said at least one master server, from said client said purchase request via said graphical user interface.
  5. 5. The method of claim 4, further comprising the step of:
    transmitting, using said at least one master server, said purchase request to at least one billing center and at least one parts fulfillment center for fulfillment of said purchase request.
  6. 6. A method for generating a vehicle repair report based on predictive estimating, and transmitting said report to a client via a vehicle repair claims management user interface, comprising the steps of:
    (a) requesting, using said at least one master server, vehicle identification information from said client via said vehicle repair claims management user interface;
    (b) receiving, using said at least one master server, said vehicle identification information from said client via said vehicle repair claims management user interface;
    (c) validating, using said at least one master server and at least one database, said vehicle identification information;
    (d) generating, using said at least one master server and said at least one database, a listing of major vehicle parts associated with said vehicle identification information;
    (e) transmitting, using said at least one master server, to said client via said vehicle repair claims management user interface said listing of major vehicle parts associated with said vehicle identification information;
    (f) requesting, using said at least one master server, said client to select a major vehicle part from said listing, via said vehicle repair claims management user interface;
    (g) receiving, using said at least one master server, said selected major vehicle part from said client, via said vehicle repair claims management user interface;
    (h) retrieving, using said at least one master server and said at least one database, stored relevant vehicle repair information relating to said selected major vehicle part;
    (i) generating, using said at least one master server and said at least one database, said vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating, wherein said report comprises repair packages and corresponding vehicle repair information;
    (j) transmitting, using said at least one master server, said report to said client via said vehicle repair claims management user interface; and
    (k) providing, using said at least one master server, said client an option to request for removal at least one vehicle part from said report via said vehicle repair claims management user interface, and if said at least one master server receives from said client said request to remove said at least one vehicle part, then generating, using said at least one master server and said at least one database, an updated vehicle repair estimate report based on predictive estimating removing said at least one vehicle part, and transmitting, using said at least one master sever, said updated report to said client via said vehicle repair claims management user interface.
  7. 7. The method of claim 6, further comprising the step of:
    repeating steps (f) through (k) to provide said client an option to add another major vehicle part from said listing to said report or to said updated report.
  8. 8. The method of claim 6, further comprising the step of:
    providing, using said at least one master server, said client an option to request for purchase at least one vehicle part from said report or from said updated report, via said vehicle repair claims management user interface.
  9. 9. The method of claim 8, further comprising the step of:
    receiving, using said at least one master server, from said client said purchase request via said vehicle repair claims management user interface.
  10. 10. The method of claim 9, further comprising the step of:
    transmitting, using said at least one master server, said purchase request to at least one billing center and at least one parts fulfillment center for fulfillment of said purchase request.
  11. 11. A method for generating vehicle manufacturer-recommended vehicle repair information, and transmitting said information to a client, comprising the steps of:
    (a) providing, using at least one master server, a graphical user interface to said client;
    (b) requesting, using said at least one master server, vehicle identification information from said client via said graphical user interface;
    (c) receiving, using said at least one master server, said vehicle identification information from said client via said graphical user interface;
    (d) validating, using said at least one master server and at least one database, said vehicle identification information;
    (e) generating, using said at least one master server and said at least one database, a listing of major vehicle parts associated with said vehicle identification information;
    (f) transmitting, using said at least one master server, to said client via said graphical user interface said listing of major vehicle parts associated with said vehicle identification information;
    (g) requesting, using said at least one master server, said client to select a major vehicle part from said listing, via said graphical user interface;
    (h) receiving, using said at least one master server, said selected major vehicle part from said client, via said graphical user interface;
    (i) retrieving, using said at least one master server and said at least one database, stored relevant vehicle manufacturer-recommended vehicle repair information relating to said selected major vehicle part;
    (j) generating, using said at least one master server and said at least one database, said vehicle manufacturer-recommended vehicle repair information, wherein said information comprises vehicle manufacturer-recommended information relating to suggested parts to be replaced and quantities thereof, suggested prices for suggested replacement parts, part numbers for suggested replacement parts, identification of one-time use vehicle parts, and repair instructions; and
    (k) transmitting, using said at least one master server, said information to said client via said graphical user interface.
  12. 12. The method of claim 11, further comprising the step of:
    repeating steps (g) through (k) to provide said client an option to select an additional major vehicle part from said listing in order to obtain vehicle manufacturer-recommended vehicle repair information corresponding to said selected additional major vehicle part.
  13. 13. The method of claim 11, further comprising the step of:
    providing, using said at least one master server, said client an option to request for purchase at least one vehicle part from said vehicle manufacturer-recommended vehicle repair information, via said graphical user interface.
  14. 14. The method of claim 13, further comprising the step of:
    receiving, using said at least one master server, from said client said purchase request via said graphical user interface.
  15. 15. The method of claim 14, further comprising the step of:
    transmitting, using said at least one master server, said purchase request to at least one billing center and at least one parts fulfillment center for fulfillment of said purchase request.
  16. 16. A method for generating vehicle manufacturer-recommended vehicle repair information, and transmitting said information to a client via a vehicle repair claims management user interface, comprising the steps of:
    (a) requesting, using said at least one master server, vehicle identification information from said client via said vehicle repair claims management user interface;
    (b) receiving, using said at least one master server, said vehicle identification information from said client via said vehicle repair claims management user interface;
    (c) validating, using said at least one master server and at least one database, said vehicle identification information;
    (d) generating, using said at least one master server and said at least one database, a listing of major vehicle parts associated with said vehicle identification information;
    (e) transmitting, using said at least one master server, to said client via said vehicle repair claims management user interface said listing of major vehicle parts associated with said vehicle identification information;
    (f) requesting, using said at least one master server, said client to select a major vehicle part from said listing, via said vehicle repair claims management user interface;
    (g) receiving, using said at least one master server, said selected major vehicle part from said client, via said vehicle repair claims management user interface;
    (h) retrieving, using said at least one master server and said at least one database, stored relevant vehicle manufacturer-recommended vehicle repair information relating to said selected major vehicle part;
    (i) generating, using said at least one master server and said at least one database, said vehicle manufacturer-recommended vehicle repair information, wherein said information comprises vehicle manufacturer-recommended information relating to suggested parts to be replaced and quantities thereof, suggested prices for suggested replacement parts, part numbers for suggested replacement parts, identification of one-time use vehicle parts, and repair instructions; and
    (j) transmitting, using said at least one master server, said information to said client via said vehicle repair claims management user interface.
  17. 17. The method of claim 16, further comprising the step of:
    repeating steps (f) through (j) to provide said client an option to select an additional major vehicle part from said listing in order to obtain vehicle manufacturer-recommended vehicle repair information corresponding to said selected additional major vehicle part.
  18. 18. The method of claim 16, further comprising the step of:
    providing, using said at least one master server, said client an option to request for purchase at least one vehicle part from said vehicle manufacturer-recommended vehicle repair information, via said vehicle repair claims management user interface.
  19. 19. The method of claim 18, further comprising the step of:
    receiving, using said at least one master server, from said client said purchase request via said vehicle repair claims management user interface.
  20. 20. The method of claim 19, further comprising the step of:
    transmitting, using said at least one master server, said purchase request to at least one billing center and at least one parts fulfillment center for fulfillment of said purchase request.
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US9633340B2 (en) 2013-01-21 2017-04-25 Snap-On Incorporated Methods and systems for mapping repair orders within a database
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