Archive | November, 2017

SMMT PRESIDENT: ‘CONCRETE PROGRESS’ NEEDED ON BREXIT

SMMT PRESIDENT: ‘CONCRETE PROGRESS’ NEEDED ON BREXIT

The 101st SMMT dinner was interrupted before it had even started by Greenpeace protesters who managed to get on stage with a ‘Toxic Air award’ for VW. It was clear from the outset that this was going to be a politically charged event.

Mike Hawes, Tony Walker and Jennifer Saunders at SMMT Dinner 2017

Greenpeace invaded SMMT Dinner to present VW with ‘Toxic Air Award’.

Tony Walker delivered speech about the need for ‘concrete progress’ on Brexit

 

Following an introduction by Jennifer Saunders, SMMT Chief Exec, Mike Hawes took to the stage to talk about what he saw as the dangers of ‘demonising’ diesel. “Customers are not moving straight from diesel to electric. They are switching to petrol or are staying put in their older cars” he said, adding that the decision in the budget to increase tax on diesel cars leads to a falling market and a, conversely, rise in CO2 emissions. “This is not a policy without consequences. It has to stop” he said.

Business Minister, Greg Clark made a speech in which he acknowledged that the car industry was of ‘fundamental importance to the British economy’. He added that there was an industrial strategy in place, which ‘in many ways’ had been inspired by the motor industry.  

However, SMMT President Tony Walker warned of the dangers of a no-deal situation and a 10 percent tariff on exports. “Competitiveness comes hard-won. It can be easily lost” he said. “A hard Brexit would undermine all that we have collectively achieved. It is a real threat – a hurdle we cannot ignore.” He acknowledged that it was Government policy ’not to fall over a cliff edge’ but there needed to be evidence of ‘concrete progress – and quickly’.

Walker expanded that falling consumer confidence, uncertainty about Brexit and market confusion over diesel have taken their toll on sales domestically, and that the threat of trade barriers was putting the ‘export-led renaissance’  of the UK’s manufacturing base. “Our supply chains are integrated with Europe and well developed over time” he said. “We cannot disrupt them…We do not need trade barriers to be our next challenge”.

 

 

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HELLA MAKES GROUND-BREAKING DEVELOPMENT

HELLA MAKES GROUND-BREAKING DEVELOPMENT

PROMOTION ARTICLE ON BEHALF OF HELLA

As a respected original equipment (OE) manufacturer and systems supplier, HELLA is already at the forefront of automotive technology with its involvement in areas such as ADAS (advance driver assistance systems) and LED lighting solutions. However, unwilling to sit on its laurels, the company is now looking further into the future to redefine the limits of present and future camera evolution.

So, as well as current ADAS innovations like lane departure warning systems, which are based on radar sensors that constantly monitor the area behind the car when passing other vehicles or changing lanes, HELLA is developing products that continue to enhance its reputation as a leader in the market.

Working alongside independent associated business Brighter AI, HELLA has been increasing the quality of existing camera systems by pushing the boundaries of technology with a cloud-based application that has allowed the development of new safety and comfort-related functions.

The solution has already been implemented in the security sector, but can be adapted for automotive applications and uses infrared night photography to create realistic daylight images.

In layman terms, the team is developing the technology that will enable the driver to look into the rearview mirror at night and the view reflected will appear to them as if they were driving in daylight, thus solving a basic problem of driving in the dark – limited sight and slower reaction times.

Greater illumination of the area around them will significantly increase driver safety as they will be able to see more of the road behind, leading to less accidents and potential fatalities.

Currently in its pilot stages, HELLA is confident that the realistic colour image technology will pave the way for further uses in the industry such as optimising camera-based driver assistance systems, as well as applications in aviation and aerospace.

For more information about the OE quality products available from HELLA or for Behr Hella Service, please call customer services on: 01295 662400 or email hella.sales@hella.com

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MAJOR PLAYERS IN THE MINI MARKET

MAJOR PLAYERS IN THE MINI MARKET

Simon Jackson and Justin Jeffery explain why stock holding is key to the running of Mini Spares.

We’re waiting at Mini spares, which differs from the usual display of polish, wheel trims and buckets that usually surround a factors trade counter. Instead, it looks more like a mock-shop showroom as it has an eclectic range of classic Minis on display. Models to note include a 1963 Morris Traveller, a red 1971 Cooper S and a Monte Carlo Mini on display, among others.

While we could stop and stare at these vehicles all day, we had to remind ourselves that the team were busy and we needed to get on with business. With that said, Co-Director Justin Jeffery and General Manager Simon Jackson greeted us, of whom are both old hands in the industry; beginning their careers at the firm as teenagers. Both of them have seen their fair share of changes to the company and market: “When we started at this premises over two decades ago, you could ring up a company and have 10 CV joints sent out to you, and if you ran out, you could easily order another 10.” said Jackson, “For us to do that now, it’s near enough impossible to get a European manufacturer to even begin to talk to us. That’s how everything has changed.”

STOCK HOLDING
To overcome this obstacle, the team relocated from their previous site in Friern Barnet to a purpose-built warehouse that has grown exponentially since first opening. Elaborating on Jackson’s earlier sentiment, Jeffery said, “This was one of the main reasons for moving here. We realised early on that to be in control of your own stock is very important, and to do that, you have to be able to make it yourself.” He continued, “All the grilles, bumpers and corner bars are all manufactured for us exclusively for us. That’s what stands us apart from most competitors where many of them are resellers of product, we actually go out and get it manufactured, otherwise, these cars will go off the road.”

To stock the components, the team has continued expanding the warehouse, with extra storage space and several mezzanine floors. As it currently stands, the space totals 37,000 sq ft employing 55 staff across the factory floor, sales and marketing departments.

In order to maintain its 9500 part numbers and ensure they’re dispatched on time, the team follow a specific process which has boded well for business, as Jeffery elaborates; “We can normally get up to 300 orders on a Monday, anything from small boxes to large packages that have to be shipped internationally. The process we follow is, ‘picking, checking, packing,’ where every order is checked before it gets dispatched, then the guys pack and send it out.”

Minis in the customer area

Although a bespoke stock management system is in place, the Mini Spares team have had to adjust their stock holdings accordingly. Jeffery elaborated, “Typically, brake and suspension products are some items that used to be bought together and would all be in one place within the warehouse, however, our computer system shows us the quickest way to go around and pick wares in the building. We’ve gone away from that, meaning, staff that have been with us for a long time have had to adapt.” He adds that a fair amount of human intervention is needed to get stock holding correct, even though the system is in place.

Jackson agrees with Jeffery’s statement and expands, “Again, how we have to buy things has changed. It’s not feasible to keep certain products together anymore because of the stock holding,” he added, “Where we used to keep 100 items for a certain product line, we now have to hold a 1,000 of them.” To resolve this issue, the team have created a Bulk Storage area, that replenishes shelves as and when required.

PRODUCTS AND EXPORT
Another essential part of the business is sourcing gearboxes and cylinder heads to be sent off for refurbishment. This has led to some new additions that the duo were keen to show us, “Our new alloy five-point cylinder head is a fairly new project, originally made in cast iron”, notes Jeffery, “We have gone out to change, design and improve this product. Filters are another key addition. Everyone used to buy Unipart filters, but Unipart said ‘we’re not doing them anymore’. Luckily for us, we found the original manufacturer and were able to order enough quantity to get them interested in making them again.”

The firm hassate two satellite branches in Birmingham and York, both supplied from the Potters Bar HQ. “It’s the later stuff that’s dropping off the production lines. People are not interested”, said Jackson. “Volumes are too small [for the main suppliers to be interested in] and that’s what we’re now concentrating on.” He concluded.

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200K INVESTMENT AT REVCOAT

200K INVESTMENT AT REVCOAT

Calcination Oven

Catalytic converter brand Revcoat Technologies has made a major investment in new processes and machinery. New equipment includes a calcination oven, automatic case seam welder and several types of automatic coating machines.

The firm produces various types of diesel particulate filters in addition to the converters for petrol engines and has spent over £200k on the new equipment.

James Slade, Director at the firm said: “Over the past 12 months we have researched and developed catalyst wash-coats using high oxygen storage chemicals and Nano-technology precious metal solutions to meet the requirements of today’s emission standards.”

“Combined with our specifically designed coating and canning technology we can produce emission catalysts tailored to any requirement. Our catalytic solutions and our proprietary catalyst coating technology are individually tailored to take advantage of the latest technology in raw materials.”

“Our investment in this technology for the development of automotive emission catalysts gives us the ability to offer solutions for present and future requirements of environmental legislation.” Revcoat Technologies is owned by by European Exhaust & Catalyst Ltd.

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AUTOINFORM LIVE ONCE AGAIN

AUTOINFORM LIVE ONCE AGAIN

The 2017 edition of the AutoInform Live technical training and networking event  has been held once again at the GTG Academy in Wolverhampton with around 200 attendees.

Diagnostic training expert and workshop owner, Frank Massey was on-hand to deliver training sessions on future technologies and industry issues, such as ‘Pumping losses’ – the mechanical inefficiency of a gasoline engine caused by the position of the throttle – and vibration analysis.

Speaking about the event, Massey said: “The event changes every year, and each time we try to put a different ‘flavour’ on it; for example, we might concentrate on ignition, common rail or emissions, which is a really big issue at the moment”.

“It means we have to do a lot of research – which is great for us – and to-date it’s been really well received. We’re getting good numbers and the right calibre of people: those who want to progress and succeed in the industry.”

Schaeffler’s Technical Services Manager, Malcolm Short added: “We try to refresh the event every year, with more presentations, updated content and new suppliers.

“The garages love that this event takes place at the weekend: we did a survey after the Edinburgh show and people responded overwhelmingly that they wanted it on Saturday and Sunday as it meant they weren’t taking time out of their busy working weeks.”

AutoInform Live launched in 2014 with the support of the Original Equipment Suppliers Aftermarket Assoc. (OESAA), replacing a series of conferences organised by the Massey family. There was also an addition of the show held in Glasgow earlier this year.

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ASA RESPONSE COULD IMPACT USED CAR DEALERS

ASA RESPONSE COULD IMPACT USED CAR DEALERS

Glyn Hopkin dealership

In a move that could have far-reaching consequences on the used car industry, the Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint against two lineage ads for car dealer Glyn Hopkin. The adverts related to two three-year old Alfa Romeo vehicles, and the complaint was that the vehicles were not advertised as being ‘ex-fleet’.

The vehicles in question had been registered directly to Fiat- Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). In response, the dealer said that the vehicles were not for sale directly from the website and that would-be purchasers would be able to see all the documents related to any particular car.

Glyn Hopkin stated that they bought the advertised vehicles directly from FCA and that an ex-fleet did not suggest that it had multiple drivers. Furthermore, the actual previous usage, irrespective of the registered keeper, could not be categorically defined on a used car and they stated that such information had not been given to them by FCA.

SMMT was asked for its input. It said that it believed that the Office of Fair Trading’s (OFT) ‘Guidance for second hand car dealers’ only applied to ex-fleet vehicles that might have had multiple users, and that by describing a vehicle as ex-fleet did not necessarily mean that it had been used by more than one driver.

SMMT also pointed out that the new car market had changed radically in the UK, through the growth in popularity of PCP and lease schemes, where most of the vehicles were owned by fleet management/vehicle leasing companies.

The ASA accepted these points, but still ruled that the advert broke guidelines and that it, and all others like it, must state that if a vehicle had been part of a fleet if had been used for business purposes, even if they had been in the hands of a single user from new, as had been the case with both of the cars in question.

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RUBBER PLANT COMES BOUNCING BACK

RUBBER PLANT COMES BOUNCING BACK

Fabrication line in new plant

If you think of the Dunlop brand, you’ll probably come up with the eponymous Fort Dunlop, the giant building sat next to the M6 which I remember in my youth as being vast, foreboding and, well, old.

However, this building was a spring chicken compared with Dunlop Suspensions’ former building in Coventry’s Holbrook Lane. The WW1-era factory was sprawling, dark and low. It was also riddled with holes – some apparently from stray bullets sustained in the dog-fights over the city in the second war.

MODERN
While the historic value was not in doubt, it didn’t really work as an avatar for a modern, high- tech business. “People visiting the site would think ‘failed 1960s UK manufacturer’ and once you’ve formed that view it is very hard to dispel it” said Ian Hamilton, MD of the company. A move was on the cards, and the view of the management was if they were going to be in the new site for as long as there were on the old, it made sense to build something bespoke. “We did as much as we could, because we were only going to do this once” explained Hamilton.

As such, plans were drawn up for a brand-new site at the Prologis Park industrial area. The build was projected to cost in the region of £5m once the plant was taken into account, and the new building would feature the latest environmental systems, such as integration of thermal processes and an advanced soak away under the car park. It was going to be the first of its type in the area, however, this came with its own problems.

EXPANSION ISSUES
“One of the problems with being ‘first through the door’ is it is you that tends to get shot” explained Hamilton. “For a start, we were stuck between two county councils, with most of the building being in one, and the car park in another”. Interestingly, the footprint of the new build is much smaller than the old, with 60,000 sq ft as opposed to nearly three times than at the old place. “We didn’t use much of it really” said Hamilton. “Although every nook and cranny was stuffed with things, because when you have the space, people will fill it up. I’ve learnt that in any future business dealings to buy the smallest space needed. It saves so much money, because if you haven’t got anywhere to put it then you don’t buy it!” he added.

It isn’t only the building that has enjoyed a reboot. Working practices and machinery have modernised to keep up with the times. Processes that once took thirty burly men to complete can now be done by machinery, allowing employees to concentrate on lighter and more technical work. On our visit, the firm was busy producing a batch of air suspension for a bus manufacturer on one line, and a number of aftermarket products for Range Rovers on another. It is also worth pointing out that there is real manufacturing going on here, with CNC machines buzzing and autoclaves heating. It is not simply an assembly and distribution centre.

The lean systems in place also allow for small batch sizes. “The rivals are on the volume trail” asserts Hamilton, adding that the items produced are not exactly bespoke, but ‘tailor made’, which allows the firm a USP. “We assume our competitors consider volumes of less than 100,000 not to be worth the engineering time” he said, adding that CEO Chris Davis could identify ways of producing strong aftermarket references.

Dunlop Suspensions (officially known as Dunlop Systems and Components Ltd) had an interesting time in the last century as it was one of the pioneers of the disc brake and claims to have invented the ceramic disc. The company worked on many automotive projects, including the four wheel drive Jensen Interceptor FF. However, it was the rubber cone suspension on the original Mini, which had been designed by Alex Moulton and was produced by Dunlop Suspensions that captured the public’s imagination. The firm produced parts for the Hydrolastic and Hydragas systems that were standards on BMC cars of the era, but a disastrous merger with Pirelli indirectly lead to the whole Dunlop group of companies being sold to BTR in the 1980s. BTR gradually split them up and sold them off, with the Systems and Components division transferring to Trelleborg AB at the end of the 1990s. However, a management buyout in 2007 allowed the company to modernise, culminating in the building we are looking at today finally being completed in 2014.

As the old proverb goes, it is an interesting time to be a manufacturer in the UK. The effects of currency fluctuations and the threat (or opportunity if you like) of leaving the single market is hanging over those in the supply chain. Nonetheless, this company has shown that it can adapt to the pace of change – and long may it continue to do so.

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NEW UK KEY ACCOUNTS MANAGER JOINS PAGID

PROMO ARTICLE ON BEHALF OF PAGID

Brake specialist TMD Friction has appointed Phil Woodcock as UK Key Accounts Manager for Pagid – the UK’s biggest selling brake brand.

Having spent 35 years in sales and marketing, with 25 of those in key positions in the automotive industry, Phil has extensive experience providing international marketing and operational solutions within the friction sector.

In his new position, Phil will be responsible for managing and promoting the Pagid brand in the UK market. This will include driving sales through Euro Car Parts and further-cementing Pagid’s position as the leading OE-brand in the UK market.

Sylvie Layec, TMD Friction Sales Director Western Europe & Pan-European Accounts, commented,

“We welcome Phil as TMD Friction UK Key Accounts Manager, and we have every confidence that he will grow the Pagid brand further. He certainly comes with plenty of excellent experience, and has the standards of quality and attention to detail that is synonymous with TMD Friction.”.

Commenting on his appointment, Phil said,

“Having been involved in the automotive braking market for many years, it’s wonderful to be joining a highly regarded brand that is part of the global leader in brake friction technology.  TMD Friction’s manufacturing and R&D facilities are second to none, and the quality that the workforce produces is why the Pagid brand has such loyalty. I’m very much looking forward to taking Pagid to the next level in terms of sales and customer service”.

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BREAKING: CHANGE AT THE TOP AT FPS

BREAKING: CHANGE AT THE TOP AT FPS

Breaking: The following statement has been released by FPS:

“FPS are pleased to announce today that Jonathan Eden is to take the role of Managing Director, effective from 1st December 2017. Jonathan joined the team in 2013, initially with responsibility for IT, and became Finance and IT Director in early 2016 following the retirement of Peter Blackburn. Prior to working at FPS, Jonathan worked in the aftermarket for 23 years, so brings considerable industry experience to this role.

FPS are also pleased to announce that Duane Trower will be joining the business from Unipart Rail on 4th December, to take up the position as Director of Logistics. Duane has substantial and broad logistics and aftermarket experience which will support the continued growth of FPS.

This succession follows the planned decision by Neil Davis and Adrian Parker to step down from the business at the end of this year, after a period of handover. Both joined in 2001, having formed part of the leadership team since then.

Neil Davis commented “It’s been a pleasure to work at FPS, a business that really is the sum of the people, and on behalf of Adrian and myself, I’d like to thank all our colleagues who have worked so hard in the business over so many years. We’d also like to congratulate Jonathan on his appointment, and wish everyone all the best for the future”.

Jonathan Eden commented “FPS has seen continuous growth for the last 17 years, and continues to invest to ensure it will keep adding value for both its customer and supplier partners. I’d like to thank Adrian and Neil on behalf of everyone for their contribution to FPS over so many years, and look forward to the future working closely with all my colleagues across the business”.

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