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KEEPING UP WITH THE TIMES

With so many diagnostic tools available, when is the right time to upgrade? 

Nowadays with advanced vehicle technology, diagnostic tools have become an essential
piece of kit for garages whether the job involves re-f lashing ECUs to pulling out fault codes However, with the wide range of products and updates on the market, are workshops keeping their tools in check?

TOOLING UP
“There’s a lot more realisation now with anyone possessing old kit that they’ve got to look into upgrading” said Dave Richards, Managing Director at Launch UK. “The older kit predates the electronic park brakes where service resets were just a part in the dashboard. But on a Range Rover, it’s a programming function where you have to re-program five ECUs to reset all the service lights.” Julian Goulding, UK Marketing Manager at Delphi, points out that there are some older devices being used by technicians. He says, “There are still old and out-of-date tools out there, however, with the coverage we provide, that is dependant on the workshops updating to the latest software”, adding that the firm is continually stressing the importance of using modern units to trade customers.

HGS Mega Macs tool

From a tyre dealer perspective, Colin Webb, MD at TPMS firm Bartec Auto ID, advises technicians to consistently update their diagnostic equipment and software, due to the ongoing growth of new passenger cars and sensors making their way off factory lines. “The market is moving very quickly so tyre shop technicians need to have their tools updated as soon any new car comes onto the roads, otherwise, they will have trouble repairing the next car coming over the threshold”, highlighting that this could incur loss of business to OE franchise dealerships.

PRICE DRIVEN
Neil Hilton, Head of Business Development at Hella Gutmann Solutions, notes that many technicians are driven by price when it comes to upgrading their toolbox and do not necessarily understand the differentiations and benefits between what a budget and a premium tool can bring to the workshop. A challenge the firm is consistently educating garages and bodyshops about, as Hilton explains. “The comparison is you pay a little extra and buy a better quality machine that has more capabilities from day one and also has a longer lifetime”. He continued. “A customer who buys price driven compared to a customer who buys one of our HGS devices, the HGS customer has spent less in the long term because he’s purchased a machine that’s seen him through five years plus whereas the alternative customer has brought two or three more in that space of time and had less coverage”.

Delphi’s Julian Goulding agrees and expands: “There are still some technicians driven on price and this feeds through to diagnostics. What we try to stress to people is look at return on investment, what price you pay and the capabilities it gives you across a wide range of vehicles”. Similarly, Bartec’s Colin Webb says the firm has developed a method to take the hassle out of reminding tyre technicians and fast fit centres through regular wifi updates. He explains more. “We offer wifi updates so the technician doesn’t have to remember to do the update so they will always be ahead”. He elaborates, “The TECH500 is our latest tool containing wifi and software updating on it as well as wireless charging”, adding that the gadget also allows users to detect vehicle faults and re-program universal sensors on a range of vehicle models.

BUYING TRENDS
Launch UK’s David Richards said the firm has spotted a buying pattern between technicians who are keen to upgrade their apparatus. Speaking about his findings, he said. “One of the trends which we are trying to address is that technicians are wanting to up their game but don’t want to wait around for the boss’s tool. Most of those guys are not looking to spend £2,500 so we have products in the £500 to £1,000 range, which are affordable for them because they’ll usually spend around £500 on a set of spanners”. He continued, saying, “We’re already seeing some cases where you almost get the tablet for free but you’re committed to five years of software updates. Launch UK doesn’t operate like that and instead, offers two years free software for the customer”.

Launch UK’s X-431 PRO 3

ADAS DIAGNOSTICS
It’s all well and good having a unit that performs general diagnostics, but garages may struggle if the system can’t detect faults on ADAS systems, according to Hilton, who says many workshops are unaware of the business implications this could cause in the future. “Through our ADAS awareness seminars, it is clear from the shocked faces that most of the workshops, bodyshops and to an extent, glass companies, are still not aware of these systems on the vehicles they’re working on and the risks it poses to their business by not carrying out the correct processes or procedures”. He concluded. “All of our HGS Mega Macs equipment is capable of calibrating ADAS systems (some vehicles require additional hardware). We also offer a diagnostic tool that is purchased as a standard tool but also incorporates the required software at no extra cost to have the capability to calibrate ADAS vehicles”.

Although suppliers seem to hold a certain level of responsibility to encourage workshops to keep up with the times, it is crucial in this day and age for technicians to take charge by familiarising themselves with not only the diagnostics and software available, but not allow pricing to get in with the way of potential ROI opportunities.

Posted in CAT Features, Factor & Supplier News, Filters, Garage News, News, Retailer NewsComments (1)

TRANSFER WINDOW: NEW SUPPLIER DEALS

TRANSFER WINDOW: NEW SUPPLIER DEALS

Fram coming to ECP

Transfer season sees clubs scouting for talent and players looking for a comfy life, aftermarket brands have also been swapping sides over the last month.

  • First of all, The Parts Alliance has announced a five-year partnership with the AA. The products will cover batteries, vehicle parts and consumables in a supply contract for five years. “We are delighted to be a business partner and supplier to the AA, one of Britain’s most trusted brands”. said Peter Sephton, Chief Executive of The Parts Alliance.
  • Meanwhile, Sogefi Filtration has signed an agreement with distribution giant Euro Car Parts, which will see the latter stock products under the Fram brand from the beginning of July. This will include the full range of light vehicle filters sold through ECP’s outlets in UK and Ireland. Nigel Duffield, Sales Director at Sogefi said: “The cooperation with Euro Car Parts is very promising and will surely contribute to further develop the presence of the brand throughout the country”.
  • The CAAR buying group has also made some signings, with oil brand Mannol now being stocked by the group’s members. The lubricant producer has had a good month, because in addition to the supply deal it also won two awards from separate German car magazines for it’s Combi Energy 5w30 Long Life oil. Andrej Gaikov from Mannol said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been chosen by CAAR’s members to be stocked in their stores. I feel this is the start of a great partnership for both of us”.
  • The A1 buying group has introduced Warwickshire-based Compressortech into its approved suppliers list. The remanufacturer of A/C compressors can now be distribute its products across the chain’s members. Gary Stephenson, Business Development Manager for Compressortech said: “A1 is a significant and recognised buying group and our thermal cooling products will further complement their expanding product ranges.
    We look forward to working with the members.”

Posted in Batteries, Blogs, Factor & Supplier News, Filters, Garage News, News, Retailer News, UncategorisedComments (0)

AUTOMECHANIKA IN REVIEW

AUTOMECHANIKA IN REVIEW

For us at the magazine, it is funny to think that 2017 was only the second time Automechanika has taken place at the NEC, such is the amount that we have written and speculated about it. Nonetheless, this is only the second time the show has happened here, and it seems much of the aftermarket holds an opinion about it.

For me, the proceedings started the day before the event as SMMT had invited a handful of journalists to dinner at a nearby country pile to talk about the show, the aftermarket and the motor industry in general. One interesting stat that Chief Exec Mike Hawes raised was that the British public now spend more online on car accessories than they do on cosmetics. I haven’t been able to verify this yet, and I suspect it includes replacement tyres and servicing booked online, but even so it goes to show that the new generation of motorists are less willing to do things the old way. A point to ponder perhaps.

After the show was opened, complete with ribbon cutting and the traditional comedy big scissors (I wonder where they come from?) the show got underway and we grab show organiser Simon Albert for a few words. As the show had only just opened, he didn’t have much to tell us that we didn’t already know, such as the longer opening hours, increase in aisle space etc. However, he did confirm his hit list of companies that he’d like to see attending in the future and, of most significance to us, confirmed that the show would return next year.

On the Valeo stand

This surprised me a little, as I’d assumed that the show would become biennial in the years that the Frankfurt show was not held. However, I was keen to get going as my appointment book was full and I was running late before I had even started.

The first visit took me across Hall 19 and into Hall 20 where I could have a quick look at some of the stands as I scurried past. Liqui Moly and Auto Repar had particularly amazing looking stands. Schaeffler had used a space right next to the main entrance to build a gleaming white stage where cutaway versions of various products had been mounted on plinths for the reps to demonstrate. Valeo meanwhile, had approached the concept of having a stand in a different way, as it had simply brought a huge truck and trailer kitted out with demonstration models of various things into the hall.

MEANDERING
I won’t trouble you with the details of every meeting I had or what everyone said, except that on the first day a number of stands reported that footfall seemed a little low, which could be down to appalling weather that day as well as a crash blocking one of the motorways near the NEC that may have put some off attending. I should add that if the attendance was low on the first day, I didn’t notice it. From my point of view, Hall 19, where I spent the bulk of the time, seemed annoyingly busy with meandering people with a tendency to stop in front of me filling the aisles.

It was pleasing to see that many exhibitors had brought in things other than their products to keep people amused. Sales-i brought an Out Run arcade machine for example (a game that I spent too much time on in my youth). Denso brought a VR racing car simulator, which I quite fancied trying out, but decided not to as the racing driver Rebecca Jackson was looking on, and I had no wish to humiliate myself. Other stands brought various cars and bikes from series that they sponsor as well as the usual show novelties.

Holding an event after the show is always a risk, because while there will be a ready supply of people in the industry who are in the same place, there is no telling that they will be in the mood to go somewhere else after spending a day at the show. Even if they do, there is every chance that someone else has invited them first. With this in mind, I was curious to see how many people went to an event held by Motaquip at Warwick Castle on the first night. The answer as it turned out was a lot of people as the event was full. It was one of the more fun events that we’ve been to, with two apparently empty suits of armour jumping off the wall and alarming diners by staging a battle between the tables.

STAGES
Back at the show the following day I would have liked to have had more time to attend some of the industry and technical seminars that were taking place on a number of stages across the halls. Big names from the world of diagnostics including Frank Massey and James Dillon had been brought in as a lure to get technicians to the show (which by all accounts worked) while the heads of the garage associations talked about the various threats and opportunities du jour in the aftermarket. I did manage to get over to hear the winner of the Garage of the Year announced, which turned out to be Motorserv UK, which readers who have been paying close attention might recall we visited this time last year.

One notable absence from the show was TMD Friction (who are on record saying that they have ‘no plans’ to exhibit). However, the company did rent a plaza suite just outside of the main halls to hold a Pagid Live event in association with Euro Car Parts where a number of garage owners and technicians (the majority of whom had been brought down for the event) who, after a day at the show spend a couple of hours enjoying presentations on the benefits of the Pagid Expert programme and on ECPs garage scheme (see Hot Story).

If your reason for visiting the show was to find new products, you wouldn’t have been disappointed. Delphi brought a new bit of diagnostic kit for high- pressure injectors, European Exhaust and Catalyst introduced a 6-in-1 fuel system cleaner at the show and in a similar vein, Forté launched a 4-in-1 cleaning machine. Essentra Components launched something called a ‘High Tech Fluid Absorption Plug’ and I’m sure there were many other things never before seen at the event.

Throughout the show, I spent most of my time in the three aftermarket halls, but on the final day I had a meeting with Stericycle (a company that manages recalls for the VMs) and so I spent a while exploring the area dedicated to the automotive supply chain. It was markedly quieter than the aftermarket halls, although it should be noted that while the supply chain market as a whole is huge and worth big money, the number of buyers within it is relatively small, and stands dealing with VM services were of little interest to technicians, so it might be unfair to judge its success on the amount of feet in the room alone.

‘Billy’ character on Bosch stand

However, the highlight of the show for me came late in the afternoon on the final day when Helen Watkins from Bosch, who was manning the Extra stand, was accosted by a strange small man who kept offering her some of his special ‘home made’ sweets, much to the amusement of onlookers – apparently he’d been coming on the stand and doing this at various points throughout the show. However, just when Helen couldn’t stand the embarrassment anymore, the fellow took off what turned out to be a wig and false teeth to reveal himself as a well known customer of the firm. Apparently, his alter-ego ‘Billy No-Mates’ is a character that he regularly performs for some of his unsuspecting suppliers, and it was much to the amusement of the crowd that had built up.

It was almost time for us to leave in order to high-tail it back to London while there was still time to vote (remember that?) One point that is inescapable is the topic of the show frequency. As a conservative guess, I reckon I spoke to 40 company bosses during the show and the overwhelming majority said that they thought the show should run once every two years, preferably during the non- Frankfurt years in order to keep costs reasonable and keep the momentum of the show. From the point of view of the whole CAT team, we could have happily stayed there for a month if we could – there were so many people to see. However, I’m always curious to know the experience of our readers. Did you go? Were you exhibiting? What were the highlights, and what would you have liked to have seen? Give me a shout at greg.whitaker@haymarket.com.

Posted in Accessories, All Makes, Batteries, Belts, Braking, Car Care, CAT Features, Catalytic Converters, Clutches, Cooling, Exhausts, Factor & Supplier News, Filters, Garage News, General, Japanese - Korean - American, Japanese Parts, Lighting, News, Retailer News, Seals & Gaskets, Sensors, Shock Absorbers, Spark Plugs, Starters and Alternators, Steering & Suspension, Styling, Tools, Wheelhubs & Flanges, WipersComments (0)

GSF OPENS BRISTOL NORTH BRANCH

GSF OPENS BRISTOL NORTH BRANCH

Factor chain GSF Car Parts has announced the opening of a new store in Bristol.

Located at the Aztec West Business Park, Bristol North joins its South and central branches within the region as part of company expansion plans.

Following a similar setup to other stores, the 10,000sq ft. facility houses GSF’s fastest selling lines including braking, filtration and clutches with a strong focus on OE equipment for workshops.

“We’ll be looking initially within a 15 mile radius for deliveries”, said Simon McMullen, Regional Director at GSF Car Parts. “Our analysis suggests this gives us well over 100 garages and associated trades to target, so there are lot of opportunities for us” adding that the factor hasn’t ruled out building more sites across the city.

He concluded. “We’ve got experienced staff in place who know Bristol well. It’s been a great team effort to find and fit out suitable premises, put the staff in place and open with stock on the shelves – all in under a couple of months. We’re sure there’s even more potential for us around the area and we’ve been excited by the enthusiastic response already.”

For more information on deliveries and opening times, garages can head over to the GSF website.

Posted in Accessories, Batteries, Braking, CAT Features, Clutches, Factor & Supplier News, Filters, Garage News, NewsComments (0)

UFI OPENS REDDITCH WAREHOUSE

UFI OPENS REDDITCH WAREHOUSE

Luca Betti

Following last month’s news that Hella had signed a distribution deal with filter brand Hengst in the UK, UFI Filters has announced that it will be investing in its own distribution network in what it described as an ‘aggressive market offensive in the UK’.

Stating a three-year goal of achieving 10 percent UK market share over the next three years, the firm has obtained a new 10,700 sq ft distribution centre in Redditch that will hold stock of over 200,000 parts, with 2,600 SKUs covering 96% of the UK car parc.

The new warehouse will be serviced by logistics company Transmec and will allow for a 5pm ‘last order’ cut-off and morning delivery for orders with a minimum value of £350.

Commenting on the new initiative UFI’s Aftermarket Europe Sales Manager, Francesco Tomasoni said: “The new warehouse and service standards will fully satisfy our existing and potential customers needs. We are confident that our offering will be well received, as a result, across the market. While the UK aftermarket is dominated by a few larger suppliers, it is also highly fragmented and there is great scope for a highly focused and innovative company such as ours to deliver something that is truly new.”

Director, Luca Betti, added: “Our filters are original equipment on eight out of 10 of the UK’s top selling cars last year, with 24 different OE filters covering the many different versions of these cars. At a press conference, CAT asked who UFI wished to take market share from in order to hit the ambitious growth targets, to which new Aftermarket Sales Manager, Karl Ridings replied without hesitation ‘Sogefi’.

For its part, Sogefi were unconcerned. “I admire their aspirations, but I’m not terribly worried about it” said Sales Director Nigel Duffield, adding that his company has a ‘clear strategy’ for distribution that it will talk more about soon.

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MANN-FILTER

MANN-FILTER products from global OE filtration market leader MANN+HUMMEL, are produced to identical performance and quality standards as the OE filters fitted at vehicle and engine assembly stage and as supplied to VM franchise dealership as genuine OE service parts.

Therefore, UK Aftermarket leading brand MANN-FILTER meets the requirements of BER, provides genuine OE matching quality engine protection and creates peace of mind for independent garages and workshops.

Around 15,000 employees at MANN+HUMMEL sites in over 50 locations wordwide, design, develop and produce Original Equipment filters and modular filtration systems for all major vehicle and engine manufacturers in the Car, LCV, HGV, Off-highway and Industrial filtration market segments.

Posted in Catalogue Guide, FiltersComments (0)

Comline

The Comline Filter range is a genuine one stop shop – an all-makes range. Covering all European, Japanese and Korean cars and vans, we are one of the fastest-growing replacement brands. Comline distributors benefit from a leading range, matching OE, great availability and real value for money. The New 2010 Catalogue lists the complete programme including air filters, oil filters, fuel filters and cabin filters. This terrific aid for stockists includes a photographic library listing every pad. As well as the hard copy Comline filter data is on TecDoc, MAM, and of course the Comline online web catalogue – www.comline.uk.com.

Posted in All Makes, Catalogue Guide, FiltersComments (1)

Corteco

Does your car breathe cleaner air than you? CORTECO cabin air filter protect drivers and passengers from dust, pollen and exhaust contaminants and generate growing sales for wholesellers. CORTECO micronAir® cabin air filters: everyone benefits! micronAir® cabin air fliters enable you to access a large and fast-growing market: health in cars. Raise your customers’ awareness levels and their readiness to replace the cabin filter at regular intervals. Boost your turnover!

Posted in Catalogue Guide, FiltersComments (0)

UFI Filters spa


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SOGEFI Filtration

Looking for OE quality, all-makes replacement filters with a brand name your customers can trust?  Choose FRAM or CoopersFiaam filters only from SOGEFI Filtration, the UK’s biggest, most advanced OE filter manufacturer. All three brands deliver a complete selection of OE quality oil, air, fuel and cabin air filters for automotive, CV and off-highway applications. Find complete listings in the latest FRAM and CoopersFiaam catalogues, also available in CD Rom format. Call 01443 235596 to request your copy.

Posted in Catalogue Guide, FiltersComments (0)

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