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NEW €4bn+ BID FOR OSRAM

German lighting manufacturer Osram has announced that it is in negotiations with Austrian sensor and semiconductor firm AMS AG following a takeover offer by the latter. 

The takeover would see ams acquire all outstanding Osram shares. AMS is understood to have offered a price of 38.50 euros per Osram share, which Osram estimates is equal to around 4.3 billion euros in enterprise value. 

In a statement issued on 14th August, Osram claimed to have been in talks with AMS since the previous day and would ‘continue to do so’. Regarding acceptance of the offer, Osram said it viewed ams AG’s financing concept – which involves bridge financing of 4.2 billion euros by investment banks HSBC and UBS – as ‘viable’. 

READ: Bain Capital and Carlyle bid €4bn for Osram

“In addition to the offer price and financing concept, a stable environment is important for Osram’s further transformation into a semiconductor-based high-tech photonics company,” Osram said. “Moreover, it is greatly important to Osram’s Man-

Osram HQ

-aging Board that all key stakeholders are appropriately protected, in particular the company’s employees and the essential parts of the company.” 

READ: Osram completes Ring Automotive acquisition

It is the second takeover offer for Osram in as many months. Private equity firms Bain Capital and The Carlyle Group made a similar offer for the public takeover of all Osram shares – albeit for a slightly lower share price of 35 euros per shares – in early July. Under the offer – which is still ongoing – Osram said it would retain its name and rights to all patents. At the time, Olaf Berlien, CEO of Osram, said: “Bain and Carlyle are the right partners for Osram at the right time.” 

Talks are ongoing. 

 

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PROMO: EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS IN QUALITY AT BM CATALYSTS

PROMOTIONAL CONTENT ON BEHALF OF BM CATALYSTS

 

Following a brand review earlier this year, BM Catalysts have launched a new campaign which was officially exhibited at Automechanika Birmingham last month. The campaign focuses on the importance of quality, something BM Catalysts hold as one of their core values, adopting a new strapline, “Those who know quality, know BM”.

Quality has always been a topic of discussion in the industry, from materials and cataloguing, to legislative requirements and customer support. As Europe’s largest independent manufacturer of high-quality aftermarket catalytic converters and DPFs, BM Catalysts lead the way in bringing a partner-first approach to their business.

Modern production facility

Their dedication to exceeding the aftermarket’s expectations is not only focused on the quality of its products but reflected in every aspect of their business.

From their two hi-tech manufacturing facilities, BM Catalysts bring innovative product development and precision engineering to the aftermarket. What really sets BM Catalysts apart is their continual investment in latest state-of-the-art machinery. With over 90% of all components used being manufactured in-house, this allows for the highest levels of quality control at all levels. These processes include the use of CNC technology to refine design, allowing for quick production of large batches of components whilst guaranteeing accurate repeatability. These advanced techniques help ensure everything from sub-components to finished products are designed to the highest possible quality and fit.

Laser mapping

Laser-mapping equipment is also used to replicate parts to fit vehicles exactly, ensuring an OE standard fit, whilst proven processes mean customers can benefit from both precise automated production, as well as their team’s quality-focused approach to final assembly. All parts are rigorously checked and tested to exceed quality and performance standards and all homologated catalysts and DPFs are tested in accordance with the latest regulations, guaranteeing total confidence in their performance in comparison with an OE product.

Automated plasma cutters at work

BM Catalysts manufacture parts from 409 grade stainless steel as preferred by OE manufacturers due to its strength and resistance to corrosion and their own 1D tube benders are used to create the extremely tight bends required in the pipework of their tubular maniverters.

Mark Blinston, Commercial Director comments on the importance of a quality-focused approach, “Quality is hugely important to us for so many different reasons. Our partners and their customers have ever increasingly high expectations over the quality of emissions products so it’s important that we don’t just follow the pack in adopting an ‘it will do attitude’ and that we continue to exceed the expectations of the market. The level of investment we have made and continue to make in quality, is enabling us to improve processes and techniques on an ongoing basis, to embed the value of quality even further”.

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WHERE UGLY MEANS BEAUTIFUL

Marathon Warehouse Distribution and EuroFlo Emissions are like two sides of the same coin – or to be more precise, like two sides of the same yard as they share the same sprawling 15m high warehouse site in Redditch.

Exhausts are famously difficult to stock and store and are considered the original ‘ugly’ product. To complicate matters further, EuroFlo bring the product in from the Fabriscape factory in Portugal (echoed by the stylised ‘F’ in the EuroFlo logo), meaning the fragile and air-filled components have to be transported across Europe.

Colin Fisher, Sales Director, EuroFlo and MWD

Fortunately, the UK warehouse has been designed specifically for racking and storing thousands of the odd-shaped products as efficiently as possible. Arranged over four levels, the storage is highly effective despite, or perhaps because of the items that most factor branches consider to be difficult to hold and stock.

On the other side of the yard it is a similar story in the Marathon warehouse. While you will find the usual brake pad and oil filter references in there, they are not the fastest moving items. Indeed, the shelves are filled with window regulators, air suspension modules and leaf springs among many other items that are not commonly stocked by factors. “It isn’t the usual parts that are our biggest success” explained Colin Fisher, Sales and Marketing Director. “Well, they are usual for MWD, but they are the slow moving part numbers everywhere else! If you look at the percentage of business a regular factor would do in terms of items like oil filters and brake pads, ours would be completely different”.

Air ride

Air suspension is a case in point. “When I look at the types of vehicles that are equipped with it, I wasn’t sure that stocking the replacement parts would be a winner” explained Fisher. “But no factor was going to stock it, so if I have the part and the price is right I’ve got a 100 percent opportunity to sell to whoever has had the enquiry, whereas on a common part like a filter or brake pads I might have 20-30 percent”.

Marathon and EuroFlo are not the only warehouse distributors of esoteric and ugly products of course, but Fisher suggests that this model of business will rise in a consolidating market. “In tough times the factor branches will destock” he explained, adding that using a regional warehouse distributor takes away the risk of tying up cash in slow moving inventory for factor branches.

Dayco product at MWD

 

Brand store

Brands, or at least names that customers know and are comfortable with are also a selling point. Names such as Ashika and Dunlop (for air suspension) are joined by relative newcomers such as WAI, Kilen and Banner Batteries. In total, around 40 brands are routinely stocked by Marathon. “Fitting them all on a wall card is getting tricky” said Fisher.

“If you take products like clutch or timing belt kits, it is all about brands. So many have tried private labels etc, but just couldn’t sell it. We know of one supplier that has come out of belting altogether” he added. “Private labelling just doesn’t work. If you’re not Gates, Dayco or INA, the garage just doesn’t want to know”.

Private labelling has other problems for warehouse distributors. “It’s a huge restraint on time” said Fisher. “Everything has to be catalogued yourself. If I had ten private labels in the Marathon programme that I need to update every month… Well that would be challenging and it isn’t really our job, so we focus on the brand that we do control, EuroFlo, is extremely well catalogued”.

Keeping good stock levels and offering an efficient service are fundamental to any good firm in the business of supplying. But at this company, there’s one extra thing point that is its defining characteristic. “The more difficult the product group, the more we like it” concluded Fisher.

Posted in Out and About with CATComments (0)

180 UK JOBS AT RISK IN MAHLE PLANT CLOSURE

The Telford production location of automotive component supplier Mahle is due to close. 

In a company statement released in June, Mahle announced that it ‘considers the closure of its production location in Telford and enters into the corresponding collective consultation process.’  Closure is expected to take place in 2020-2021. 

On 8th August, a statement on behalf of plant manager Scott Ferguson said that the consultation process had been completed, according to a Shropshire Star report.

The closure creates uncertainty for the approximately 180 employees at the plant, which produces various parts used in OE production and filters for the firm.

Mahle claimed that the closure ‘results from declining order levels, which are expected to deteriorate even further due to the changed strategic direction of automobile manufacturers in Great Britain.’

The plant is not the only Mahle location set to close. In June, the company announced plans to close its Ohringen location in Germany amid a challenging market and competition. 

Closure of Telford site is imminent

In a financial report for the 2018 business year, Mahle reported sales of 12.6 billion euros before adjustments and reported over 79,000 employees – a growth of 1.6 percent. 

Aftermarket operations in the UK, centred at Bilston, are not affected in the restructure.

 

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GOV. ANNOUNCES INCREASE IN FUNDING FOR EV CHARGING

The Government has announced a £2.5 million increase in funding for residential electric car charging points. 

New Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the boost would fund the installation of more than 1,000 new charging points and doubled the funding available for local authorities to build charging infrastructure. 

Noting that there are over 20,000 publicly accessible charging stations, Shapps added that it was ‘vital that electric vehicle drivers feel confident about the availability of chargepoints near their homes’.

The money specifically targets the construction of on-street charging points, which can be integrated into existing structures like lamp-posts, to provide ease of use to electric vehicle owners who do not have off-street parking.

Sue Robinson, Director of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), called the announcement ‘positive’ but urged the government to continue to invest in charging infrastructure. “The findings of our latest Consumer Attitude Survey suggested that ‘access to charging’ still represents a barrier to buying an electric vehicle for 53 percent of consumers,” she said.  

Meanwhile, Sebastian Speight, Managing Director of Infrastructure at investment managing firm Ingenious, said that uncertainty such as charging type and location surrounding charging infrastructure ‘creates a level of risk in these business models which has a closer fit with strategic or venture capital rather than more traditional infrastructure capital.’ He concluded: “A closer involvement from public stakeholders should enable greater visibility on these risks and increase the availability of private capital.”

 

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GEA AGREES TO APPROVE ONLY ‘CONNECTED’ MOT EQUIPMENT

DVSA has made an agreement with the GEA that no new models of diesel smoke meter, exhaust gas analysers or decelerometers would be approved for use in MOT centres unless they can connect to the testing service.

This follows from a similar agreement between the two organisations last month that roller brake testers for classes 4,5 and 7 would only be approved if they connected to the new service.

From 1 October, new MOT centres will need a connected roller brake tester to receive approval and all garages will only be able to buy connectable roller brake testers as replacements. The same rules will apply to smoke meters, gas analysers and decelerometers, although a date to switch has not yet been announced.

READ: MOT SRIKE ACTION LIKELY IN NORTHERN IRELAND 

Dave Garratt, GEA Chief Exec said:  “The main concern for GEA members is to improve the quality of MOT equipment and remove any possibility of human error in the reporting procedure. Connecting MOT test equipment is a very logical step for us as it removes any “miss keying” by the operator and speeds up the process”.

“Starting by connecting brake testers makes good sense and since the introduction of Automated Test Lanes (ATLs) most may already be connectable”.

“Connecting all types of processor-based equipment is possible and as connectivity is applied across the whole test bay it will add increasing value for the motorist by reducing error and benefit the garage by speeding up the test”.

Chris Price, DVSA Head of MOT Policy said: “DVSA’s priority is to help everyone keep their vehicle safe to drive. We’re bringing in connected equipment to modernise testing in MOT garages and reduce the potential for mistakes”

MOT equipment will communicate directly with centre

“It will make testing quicker, more accurate and give motorists greater confidence in the quality of testing. Garages already using this equipment have seen benefits to their business.”

 

 

 

 

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ALLIANCE AUTOMOTIVE UK ACQUIRES ASMF

Alliance Automotive UK, the parent company of GroupAuto and UAN buying groups has acquired the seven-branch Autostores Motor Factors chain (ASMF). Terms of the deal have not been disclosed. 

Originally known as Sureparts and Panels and Paints, ASMF was a member of the PDP Group and PDP Chairman Alistair Whatmore was Managing Director. 

READ: JIM MAZZA JOINS THE PDP

ASMF is Alliance Automotive UK’s 12th acquisition of 2019, although it is the first this year to have been obtained from outside of the firm’s own buying groups. 

READ: AUTOSTORES GROUP ACQUIRES BARUM

This deal brings the total number of branches to be added to AAUK’s portfolio this year to 26, with a combined annual turnover in the region of £40m. 

We’ll bring you more info on this story as we get it. 

 

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UNIPART WINS EXTENSION TO JLR PACKING CONTRACT

Unipart Logistics has signed a new contract with Jaguar Land Rover to retain packing services for a further four years.

The contract provides work for around 100 colleagues at Unipart’s Honeybourne site in Worcestershire and Baginton site in Coventry and will run to the end of 2022.

The operation packs around 800,000 parts every month prior to them being put into storage and distributed across the Jaguar Land Rover global network.

Unipart Logistics started packing for Jaguar Land Rover in 2007 at the Honeybourne site. The service was extended to Baginton in 2010. Since then, the scope of Unipart’s service has grown to the point where the full range of Jaguar products are now packed.

Account Director Elizabeth Satinet said: “I’m delighted we have secured this contract at both Baginton and Honeybourne. The packer operation is a highly visible activity to a multitude of areas within the Jaguar Land Rover supply chain and requires significant collaboration with the customer.

“The team has really worked hard to streamline the processes using digital solutions to enhance the quality and efficiency of the service and enable us to win this four year contract”

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PROMO: BATTERY REPLACEMENT AND THE CHALLENGE OF MODERN CARS

PROMOTIONAL ARTICLE ON BEHALF OF CLARIOS

 

Start-stop technology is here; Clarios, the global battery manufacturer behind the VARTA brand estimates as of 2020 every 3rd car that enters a workshop will be equipped with start-stop technology. This technology transition is supporting the reduction of fuel consumption and can save drivers up to 15% in fuel, during inner city driving. This however, presents workshops with a new challenge when it comes to changing a car battery, with replacements becoming more difficult and time-consuming.

 

Complexities of modern vehicles

Battery fitting is getting more complex for workshops and installing a replacement battery on a new vehicle can take well over an hour. This is due to the increasing number of batteries being installed in difficult-to-reach places, such as under the seats or behind panels inside the cabin rather than beneath the bonnet. The number of steps to change a battery is therefore increasing, as removing seats and panels takes time and often diagnostic equipment is required for re-programming the battery to the Battery Management System (BMS). An example of a complex battery changeover is a Volkswagen Touareg, which has 28 steps to remove the old battery and install the new replacement battery, and takes 72 minutes! Therefore as a technician you should feel confident charging a customer for labour time on these types of time consuming battery jobs.

Models Old vs. New

In the table below are some of the most difficult battery replacements on modern vehicles. As you can see, some vehicle models have particularly complex fitments due to the accessibility and location of the battery. When you compare this to an older vehicle’s battery change, which could take 5 to 10 minutes, you can see why additional labour time is required.

Why an AGM or EFB are needed?

 

Many vehicle drivers are surprised that when a replacement battery for their vehicle with a start-stop system and lots of electrical consumers is required, the cost associated with the new battery is more than initially expected. However, when you look at the power a battery is required to provide on these new vehicle types, it is understandable to see why a more robust battery is needed. Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) and Enhanced Flooded Batteries (EFB) have been designed to cater for the increasing electrical demands, and fitting a traditional flooded battery will not provide the power needed to accurately engage the start-stop function or cope with the additional vehicle starts. In addition, an infotainment screen, smartphone interface and wi-fi output are all commonplace on the latest vehicle types, however 20 years ago, no one would have known what these mean. Today, these are but a few of the features modern car batteries have to power – along with their foremost job, starting the vehicle.

VARTA AGM and EFB batteries are designed for the modern day vehicle with modern technology. When installing a replacement battery, it is vital that the correct type of battery technology is fitted to the vehicle.

 

Like for Like

Nowadays there are several types of battery technology, not just the conventional ‘flooded’ lead acid battery which has traditionally been used as the starter battery, but also 2 new lead acid types; Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) and Enhanced Flooded Battery (EFB). Depending on the type of vehicle and the amount of electrical power needed to supply the starting functions and electrical consumers, determines whether an AGM, EFB or Conventional will be required. When replacing an old battery, it is important to replace like-for-like or like-for-better technologies, and not to fit a conventional battery to a vehicle with a start/stop system (the vehicle won’t function properly for very long). Fitting the correct battery technology type first time, will keep your customers happy and on the road and help you avoid costly repeat repair work. If in doubt, consult the vehicle handbook or you can check the VARTA Partner Portal to ensure you’re fitting the correct battery technology.

 

Importance of testing every vehicle

 

To ensure a complete and thorough service VARTA recommend performing a battery test on all vehicles coming into a workshop.

With most vehicles entering the workshop just 1 time per year on average, it is important for a technician to perform a battery test on the vehicle, as they likely won’t see it for at least another 12 months – even when not in for a battery related job. With 40% of national breakdowns resulting from a direct result of battery failure, there are many car’s batteries not being checked until it is too late and the vehicle won’t start. Accurate testing can identify batteries in a poor condition and could result in a new battery being fitted, keeping your customers happy and on the road.

Be confident informing your customers that it is only 0.8 Volts between test results being Green and Red. That’s LESS than a AAA battery (1.5V)! Despite only a small difference in Voltage, there is a huge difference in battery performance.

 

VARTA Partner Portal

 

VARTA were the first-ever AGM batteries fitted by OE manufacturers in 2003. In Europe today, 8 out of 10 newly manufactured vehicles with a start-stop system powered by an AGM, come with a VARTA.

Workshops can directly benefit from the expertise of the world’s largest manufacturer of automotive batteries by accessing the free to use VARTA Partner Portal.

To access this, interested workshops should visit the VARTA partner portal (https://www.varta-automotive.com/en-gb/business-portal) to register on any internet enabled device, tablet or smart phone.

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LKQ CONFERENCE FOCUSSES ON CHANGE MANAGEMENT

A conference between managers within the LKQ  Europe took place at Wembley recently with a focus on change management.

Nick Zarcone, CEO LKQ Corp. spoke at the conference

John Quinn, CEO of LKQ Europe, underlined the need for embracing the modern era: “It is clear we can’t assume the coming years will resemble the past because things are changing faster than ever before. We need to anticipate these opportunities and act. We all need to recognise the critical need to adapt and change as there is a massive opportunity for LKQ to actively shape the independent aftermarket for the benefit of our customers, employees and shareholders” he said.

The conference attendees agreed that the key to continued success is putting customers first through helping the customers understand and navigate the changing environment.

READ: HAMILTON APPOINTED NEW CEO OF EURO CAR PARTS

Arnd Franz, COO pointed out: “We need to offer our garage customers everything they need for a successful business – service, support, equipment and training on new issues arising from the technology shift. We have to grow LKQ in order to gain the scale effects required to provide our customers with solutions that will allow them to remain competitive. We need to support them with logistic networks that give them flexibility and speed for their customers. We need to equip them with brands and concepts upon which end-customers can rely”.

READ: ECP PARENT TO ACQUIRE STAHLGRUBER

Nick Zarcone, CEO of parent company LKQ Corporation, focused the executives’ attention on the fact that taking care of the employees will be as crucial as catering to the customers in the future: “We need to attract the best in class talent that embody our values. And we need to help our employees embrace the upcoming change while simultaneously keeping the customer the centre of attention”, he stated.

READ: ROBOTIC FUTURE OF STAHLGRUBER

In the UK, LKQ Europe is best known for Euro Car Parts and its body panels and paints business. On the continent the corporation also owns Sator Group, Rhiag Group, Elit, AutoKelly, and Stahlgruber, as well as a recycling specialist Atracco. It also holds a minority interest in publicly traded Mekonomen which is headquartered in Sweden.

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