Archive | June, 2015

Iceberg

Have you seen our Pagid ‘iceberg’ advert in CAT magazine and the trade press?

Now you can see how we put it together. Take a look at our new video – The Making of a Campaign.

It just goes to show that there’s more to Pagid than meets the eye: On top of OE friction, we offer a huge variety of brake components and accessories, as well as technical support and training with the Pagid Professional Academy.

View our Iceberg video here

To find out more about our products and services, visit www.pagidprofessional.co.uk

And don’t forget to join us on Facebook and Twitter.  We’ve got lots of Pagid Goodie Bags to give away and we’ll hand them out randomly to followers and Likers.  So get along to:

Facebook:           facebook.com/pagiduk

Twitter:                @pagiduk

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CAT Retail Lives: TMC Towcester

TMC-3It is a big decision to change a habit of a lifetime and try something new, but in the case of Neal Palk, he took that plunge 18 months ago to take over an ailing car accessory shop after growing tired of ‘driving a desk’ everyday.

September 2013 saw Palk take over TMC Towcester the only remaining store still emblazoned with TMC in the region. However car and motorbike enthusiast Palk came across the business purely by chance as he explains:

“I wanted to buy an existing business and I have been a car and bike nut since I was 12 years old. It was purely accidental that I happened to find TMC for sale.

“When I took it over, it was 50-50 whether I carried on the name, rebadged the name or called it something completely different. I wouldn’t say that it had a wonderful reputation but it was well known. I decided to keep the name but change the colour scheme to make it look new, hence why it is now black on white out there rather than the garish orange and green of the past.”

Neal Palk

Neal Palk

Having taken over TMC with no previous retail experience, Palk knew immediately it would take time to get to grips with the automotive accessory world and competing with other independent automotive retailers in Towcester and the internet. However, an enthusiasm and knowledge of cars, motorbikes and DIY has helped build a solid customer base over the first 18 months:

“Ignoring any seasonality in weather terms, there is certainly a buying pattern. I do some outdoor gear and being located close to Silverstone means when it comes to the British Grand Prix, the MotoGP and the British Endurance races, I do get a bit of extra trade from the preceding days from those who have got a tent but no pegs or need an extra sleeping bag.”

As for the internet, Palk admits that competing on certain products is often futile as they often sell for less than he can buy them for (via phillip). However, there are some lines that give TMC the edge, such as selling DIY tools and fittings, fireworks, fuses, nuts and bolts for cars and the ability to order in any hard parts within 24 hours. Regular customer Jody Willis explains why he is happy to give his custom to TMC over the other accessory shops, including Halfords:

TMC-2“Neal does it because he is into cars, and often I am in here for an hour or so chatting about various bits and pieces. You just don’t get that in a bigger store or on a retail park. I also know I can come in and if Neal doesn’t have it on the shelf, he can get it for me, same day, next day or in a couple of days…”

“Some things are cheaper in Halfords than they are here, and some things aren’t, but regardless I would still come here.”

In his first 18 months, Palk has come to realise that the business never really stands still, but one thing that has surprised him is the impact a well-dressed front window can have on a business, as he explains:

“I try to change the display no less than once a month and I get a lot of people looking at it.

“I had a Ferrari F1 electric toy car in the window in the lead up to the race, and lots of kids were saying to the parents they wanted it. Another time I had eight or nine Guy Fawkes made by local schoolchildren as part of a competition I ran. It was great free advertising.”

As Palk completes his second year in charge of TMC Towcester, it is fair to say that it will continue to turn heads on the town’s high street.

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CAT Factor Lives: B.J Ashpole

B.J-Ashpole_2Like every market town in Britain, Bishop’s Stortford in Hertfordshire has its share of modern, big-box component suppliers. ECP has a base here and other large chains exist nearby.

It is comforting then, to step into the premises of B.J Ashpole. There’s no sign of the sloganed polo shirts, fluorescent price tags or other forms of brash marketeering associated with the large chains. Instead the staff behind the counter are wearing traditional engineer’s coats, and while there are a few people bustling about, including a couple of people on the phone, the aura is that of old-style calm professionalism. A neatly arranged pegboard displays a selection of car accessories and from the customer side of the counter, we can see rows of parts and belts lined on Dexion shelves stretching into the distance. A note to modernity on the counter are the computer terminals running AutoCAT as the factor has for a number of years been a member of UAN (which has recently been taken over by GroupAuto).

Bernard and Jan Ashpole own the business, although confusingly the name comes from Bernard’s father who was called Bernard John Ashpole. Ashpole Senior was a mechanic, but following a motorbike accident, he decided to get into the parts factoring business and so it was started at some point in the 1950s – nobody is quite clear on exactly when – and it moved into its current 10,000 sq ft location in the mid 1960s. By the standards of the day this was a vast area for a parts store, but this isn’t the only line of business at the firm. “The factoring side is our bread and butter, but we also do a lot of engine reconditioning,” Ashpole said, as he showed us around the building and into a vast workshop. Three enormous lathes, one of them designed for turning flywheels are the first thing in sight and these are surrounded by a number of engine stands and other items of workshop equipment.

B.J-Ashpole_1Perhaps the most fascinating thing here are the engines themselves, Ashpole is a well-known classic car enthusiast, and has a good number of engines from very old cars. On our visit there was a V8 from a Daimler Dart, an A-series from a Minor or similar, what looked to be a Chrysler Hemi engine from a dragster as well as a vast old unit from a 1920s Dennis lorry. The latter was brought in because it wouldn’t turn over, which turned out to be because a bolt had somehow been left on the piston crown, presumably by whoever worked on it last.

The business is a long-standing member of the Federation of Engine Remanufacturers (FER) and as a result gets more than just engines from classic cars on its benches. “These are from buses and coaches,” says Ashpole, indicating a number of units on the bench. “Because of the mileage and use these vehicles get, the engines need rebuilding throughout their life, and we get a lot of them in.” We also spied a number of other interesting engines awaiting their turn, including a Lister Petter marine engine, a stationary engine from a generator set or water pump and a tiny Edwardian single-cylinder motor, which readers of an engineering magazine in 1905 could assemble, with a different part coming with the magazine each month – not unlike the partwork mags advertised on TV today, although we wish they would give away something as interesting as an engine.

B.J-Ashpole_3Accessories play a bigger part in the business than before, because as a respected and long-established supplier in town, people come to B.J Ashpole for expert advice despite, or possibly because of, the traditional layout. The goods on offer are mostly sourced through FPS and include the usual array of care and maintenance products from Saxon, Kent and so on. As an FER member for whom removing a cylinder head is no problem, Ashpole has been surprised by the number of customers who come in requesting the instant head gasket formulas, particularly considering the cost of a bottle can be higher than a gasket set.

When it comes to parts, Ashpole is quite clear on where the biggest challenge lies: “Managing customer expectations,” he says, explaining that the parc now being so large with multiple variations for each reference, it was still possible to get customers what they want, but not always within half an hour. On a similar note, Ashpole sees the electrification of vehicles coming sooner, rather than later. “It’s already here now and with each season, you can see more and more of these vehicles on the mass market. We’re all going to have to be ready for them.”

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Employee monitoring: the legal issues

observing-your-employeesEmployers want to know what their employees are doing whilst they are at work. From a purely practical point of view, employers want to be sure that their employees are spending their working hours performing the tasks assigned to them, and not doing something else.
Employers should exercise care when checking up on employees at work. If an employer fails to comply with its obligations it may damage working relations that in some cases may lead to the resignation of employees and constructive dismissal claims.

E-Cigarettes

Smoking in enclosed or substantially enclosed public places and workplaces in England has been banned since July 1, 2007. This means that employers must ensure that premises used as a place of work by more than one person, or where the public may enter, are kept smoke-free. The smoking ban covers manufactured and hand-rolled cigarettes, pipes, cigars and herbal cigarettes.
In the recent case of Insley v Accent Catering a caterer at a school was asked to attend a disciplinary hearing having been seen using an e-cigarette in front of pupils. The caterer resigned before the disciplinary hearing took place so the tribunal was not required to decide if the dismissal was fair. Electronic cigarettes are unlikely to fall under the statutory smoking ban as they involve the inhalation of vaporised mist, rather than smoke.
This means that in order to prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes at work, an employer must make it clear in its non-smoking policy that use of these cigarettes is expressly prohibited.

Alcohol and drugs

Under the Health and Safety at Work. Act 1974, employers have a duty to ensure a safe place and safe systems of work for their staff. Protecting employees from alcohol and drugs misuse can be a part of this, and it is sensible to ensure that employers have clear rules about coming to work whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or drinking alcohol or taking drugs whilst at work.
While alcohol and or drug addiction are specifically excluded from amounting to a “disability” under the Equality Act 2010, conditions arising from substance misuse may well meet the definition of disability.
Particular care is required in relation to employees who are required to drive as part of their duties – new changes in the law mean that greater scrutiny is being placed on “drug driving”. It is now illegal for a person to drive with legal drugs in their body if those drugs impair the person’s driving. As always, employers should consider the risk of being found to be vicariously liable for their employee’s actions and make sure that their rules and procedures make clear what conduct would not be acceptable.
Employers may also consider whether it is necessary to draft a policy to state that employees should submit to drug screening. Even where a drug screening policy is in place, employers will not be able to require staff to submit to drug testing without their specific consent to do so. A monitoring policy may, however, be drafted to say that withholding consent will be treated as a misconduct offence of itself.

Searches

Allied to monitoring alcohol and drug use at work, an employer may wish to conduct searches of its employees or property at work. An employer should exercise care before searching property – theirs or an employees. If an employer unreasonably seeks to impose searches, this could irretrievably damage trust between employer and employee, risking an employee resigning and bringing a constructive dismissal claim.
As ever, the best advice would be to develop a clear policy setting out when and in what circumstances an employer can undertake searches. It is important that an employer applies any policy consistently; failure to do so may give rise to an employee arguing that they are suffering discrimination.

Email and internet use

In addition to questions of privacy, monitoring employee use of email and the internet involves the processing of personal data and so the impact of the Data Protection Act 1998 should be considered.
The Information Commissioner, who oversees compliance with data protection issues in the UK, has issued guidance in the form of The Employment Practices Code, which employers should familiarise themselves with before considering monitoring of employees’ email and internet usage. Central to the guidance is that employers undertake a risk assessment before engaging in monitoring to confirm the justification for monitoring.
At the very least, employers should ensure that it has an effective employee monitoring policy in place and that staff are aware of it.

Summary

Clearly, well drafted policies and procedures are key, but is it important, that any policies and procedures are applied consistently. Where the employment tribunal is required to hear cases involving employee monitoring, it is invariably because the employee alleges that a policy has been inconsistently treated, or that they have been singled out in some way.

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The importance of planning and measuring

We are hoping that post-election there will be a degree of stability in business, but just what is stable business? Since retail price maintenance was outlawed under competition law the public and businesses have become immune to paying the price for anything and have become adept at squeezing the pips of everyone and everything they come into contact with.
Businesses in the motor industry should have reacted to this ultra-competitive environment but unfortunately few really have.
I know that some may consider me to be a control freak, but those who really know me, understand that it’s so that I can react to the market from a position of security. The tools for achieving this are a detailed business and profit plan, Daily Operating Controls (DOCs), Management accounts (MAs) and a really good ‘What-If’ modelling spreadsheet.
Now, there are those who sell various software packages that will do some or all of these functions, and I don’t knock their products, some are brilliant. However, over-reliance on composite information; created as a calculation from input data can cause the user to ‘assume’ the validity of the output without question – if the system says that, then it must be right. I accept nothing I can’t replicate with a calculator, I therefore usually write my own systems using Microsoft Excel, Google forms or Open-Office.

Interactive worksheet

My plan is how I want my business to perform. Using historic information and allowing for inflation and known factors, it is quite simple to produce a forecast – starting from forecast sales, cost of sales and gross profit. Now come the direct expenses; those that are due to the volume of sales – this includes sales and other staff who are responsible for sales volume (not management and financial staff). In the parts distribution arena cost of delivery, van costs (but not leases) fuel and maintenance must also be included. This is not a column of figures but a month-by-month interactive worksheet that reflects the number of working days, bank holidays, and must make allowances for staff holidays, sickness and training as well. These costs taken from gross profit will leave direct profit or the summary of trade.
If you have more than one department, you would have similar worksheets for each department and these would be summarised onto a company summary. Now you have to consider the indirect expenses – costs of property, insurance, lease management and finances (as these are a shared overhead). Nowadays pensions and other staff costs are taken at this level as once again these may span several departments.
This business plan must bear scrutiny, be based on something like the truth because the next trick is to achieve the volumes and profits forecast. DOCs are used to measure performance in sales and other items that can be controlled on a daily basis. These DOC figures are for information purposes and guidance, literally, are we doing the business? MAs are more factual, are produced monthly and measure all aspects of business during the course of the month in question – these can be compared with the month columns on the profit plan and help you maintain perspective on achieving that all important annual plan.
Here we venture into the black art of what-if. For me this is where I go to consider if something can be done. As I move around the industry, I hear decisions made on the fly – discounts given, trading terms varied and other seat-of-the-pants actions that knock-on into the profit plan and vary the end result.

Daily checks

With these tools in place I can trade with confidence. My time is used working around the business, helping the staff and ensuring the day-to-day tasks are kept up to date, returns, credits and VAT, so there are no nasty hidden surprises that will creep out of the woodwork and catch my businesses out. At 10:00 every day I’m in the office with a cup of coffee checking the DOCs which allows the taking of corrective action before the show comes off the rails and then monthly MA reviews are a management meeting that takes place two days after the MAs are produced – it’s not rocket-science, just good business.
In our business we were even looking at what could happen if there was a change of government, the Scottish referendum had ended differently and the effects of changes in the budget. We don’t have insider information but we best-guess situations (although the last election wasn’t foreseen).
Whether you are a PLC, a private company or just using bank-money, the purpose of opening the doors is to make money and generate a return on investment – this isn’t a perhaps or maybe, it’s an obligation, yes, even with regard to your own investment. The more effective you can be at ensuring this happens is the mark of a true manager – otherwise just what are you managing?

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WENDY WILLIAMSON APPOINTED TO FIGIEFA BOARD

WENDY WILLIAMSON APPOINTED TO FIGIEFA BOARD

Wendy Williamson, Chief Executive of IAAF, has been appointed to the board and made treasurer of FIGIEFA, the association representing the needs of the European aftermarket to governments and legislators of the European Union.

The IAAF and FIGIEFA have a close working relationship, monitoring and contributing to new European legislation affecting the trade. It is this partnership that works to represent the interests of IAAF members in the UK to European and international institutions, promoting the contribution of the independent automotive aftermarket in order to achieve the EU’s goals for a competitive European economy.

Both organisations work together on a number of issues including type approval, roadworthiness proposals, eCall, telemetry and the Connected Car.

Commenting on her new role, Williamson said: “I’m delighted to be working more closely with FIGIEFA. In this additional role, the IAAF will be able to maintain its key position of taking both the challenges and opportunities in the UK trade to European legislators.”

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ReMaTec reflects the positive mood in the reman industry

ReMaTec reflects the positive mood in the reman industry

ReMaTec2015A positive vibe was felt as the international remanufacturing industry gathered in Amsterdam for the 2015 edition of ReMaTec.

This year also saw more larger companies attending the show with representatives from BMW, Volkswagen, PSA, Paccar, Caterpillar, John Deere and Scania all in attendance.

Niels Klarenbeek, ReMaTec Shows and Publications Manager, said: “We’re very happy with the large number of new exhibitors joining the show. It’s a clear indication that our market is growing and of the potential as remanufacturing as an industry.”

The show also focused heavily on education, and launched its InnovationLAB, which showcased the latest techniques in the industry, while the events programme also included the World Remanufacturing Summit, International Conference on Remanufacturing and a Circular Economy Seminar.

Paul Bliek, Marketing Project Leader at ZF Services, said: “We also use the show to build relationships in the reman industry as well as maintaining existing ones, and to start a dialogue regarding any future requests and business within the service and reman industries.”

The show was also the stage at which the Remanufacturer of the Year was named as Borg Automotive picked up the award. ReMaTec will return to Amsterdam in 2017, the organisers already confirming that half of the exhibitors have booked a stand for the next edition.

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Inside Line: TecRMI

Noises from rear axle differential

Jaguar XJ (X350 & X358); 3.0

Reference number(s): K035

Fault symptoms:

Rear axle differential generates noises.

Causes:

Contaminated oil

Remedy:

Replace rear axle differential.

Coolant leak

Jaguar XJ and S-Type; V6 petrol

Reference number(s): S518

Fault symptoms:

Coolant line may burst.

Causes:

Production defect.

Remedy:

Replace coolant line.

Remove:

Disconnect battery.
Lift vehicle.
Drain coolant.
TecRMI-diagram_-Jaguar-XJ_-Coolant-leakRemove the engine cover.
Remove air hose from air filter housing.

Remove the hose clamp(s). (1)
Disconnect the hose retainer from engine block. (2)
Remove coolant hose. (3)
(see Figure1)

Install:

Installation in reverse order of removal.

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Inside Line: Dayco

Timing Drive System

The 2.7-litre diesel engine used in both the X350 and X358 were fitted with a Dayco High Tenacity (HT) or ‘white’ timing belt as their original equipment fitment. The HT belt is unique and patented to Dayco, which is why workshops undertaking a timing belt replacement need to realise that only by fitting a Dayco HT timing belt kit can they be assured of a genuine like-for-like replacement.

Auxiliary Drive System

Despite being subject to inevitable wear and tear during the lifespan of the engine, the front end auxiliary drive (FEAD) system has not traditionally been subject to any particular maintenance or replacement schedule. However, some vehicle manufacturers are now beginning to introduce FEAD system maintenance into their service schedules, which opens the door for the independent sector to apply similar service principles to the auxiliary belt and the associated components, such as tensioners and idlers, that together make up the FEAD system and take advantage of a genuinely new revenue opportunity.

There are a number of very important reasons why technicians should examine the FEAD system. These include the fact that although it is not directly a safety critical component, the auxiliary belt in the X350/358 drives so many vital components – alternator, power steering pump, air conditioning compressor and water pump – that even if its failure does not directly stop the vehicle, it will certainly result in the engine overheating.

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Inside Line: First Line

Steering & Suspension

If knocking or clunking is heard from the front of the Jaguar XJ when being driven over bumps or pot holes, it’s likely to be a problem with the front suspension, in particular, a worn lower front suspension arm.

These suspension arms are exposed to significant levels of stress, especially when being driven hard or over uneven or badly damaged road surfaces, which is why the bushes in the arm are prone to wear. If this is found to be the case, the best solution is to replace the complete suspension arm, including the bushes.

As with all steering and suspension components, FLG recommend technicians best practice is to replace the matching components on both sides of the vehicle at the same time as generally if the one side has suffered wear, then the opposite side will also have been subject to similar damage. Even though this may not be evident at the time, it is likely to need replacing soon after and irrespective, when one component is worn and its opposite is new, it can have an adverse effect of the opposite component, as well as the handling characteristics of the vehicle, which is why best practice is to change both together.

Cooling

When doing any servicing or repair work on the Jaguar XJ it is important to check the condition of the thermostat and it’s housing as well as the hoses which run underneath the intake manifold as these are prone to leaks. When any cooling work has been completed ensure the cooling system is bled correctly and take care to tighten the bleed screw to the correct torque of 3Nm.

Braking

The braking system can suffer from the front brakes creaking under light/medium braking. If this occurs, the front brake caliper carrier should be cleaned and lubricated, new brake pads should be fitted and the brake pad backing plate contact points greased.

Filters

The air filter should be replaced every 40,000 miles or 48 months, whichever comes sooner. A clogged/dirty air filter can lead to impeded performance and increased fuel consumption.

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