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AFTERMARKET LIVES: VISIT TO NGK

Mark Hallam invites CAT up to NGK’s distribution hub in Hemel Hempstead.

Most workshops will know the NGK brand through its BoxClever scheme, where customers can trade in their empty lambda sensor boxes in exchange for reward points to spend on an array of gifts at the firm.

Besides this loyalty programme, the manufacturer has had a strong foothold in the aftermarket for many years; beginning its operations in Nagoya, Japan 81 years ago. Eventually, the firm expanded its footprint overseas by building spark plug factories around the world. Presently, the network totals 11 factories, four development sites and over 20 sales offices worldwide.

LOGISTICS
However, today’s visit brought us to its UK headquarters in Hemel Hempstead, which was previously located in Hendon (North West London) before relocating nearly two decades ago. “The transition of NGK’s UK HQ to Hemel Hempstead was due to the requirement for more space for a rapidly growing business”, said Mark Hallam, UK Marketing Manager at the firm. “The Hemel Hempstead site was purpose built in a location with transport links ensuring an efficient delivery service to our customers”, adding that the warehouse had previously been extended to stock its core ignition lines with plans in the pipeline to expand it even further due to company expansion.

The current premises houses 100 staff and a large warehouse space where parts are sourced from Japan and distributed to trade and supply chain customers across the country. The site contains a finance and marketing department as well as its sales office and OE division where a team of staff are employed to communicate directly with vehicle manufacturers. Hallam elaborated. “NGK work directly with all of the major VMs around the world”, he continued. “NGK Spark Plugs and lambda sensors are the world’s number one OE fitment”.

BRANDING
Despite the firm’s bread and butter being in in glow and spark plug sales, this is not the only part of the business. “NGK are more than just a spark plug company,” remarked Hallam. “We also sell glow plugs, lambda, NOx, EGT, MAF and MAP sensors as well as ignition coils and spark plug covers. Under our NTK brand we also operate a specialist Technical Ceramics division from Hemel Hempstead specialising in ceramic cutting tools and IC packages.”

Hemel Hempstead DC

To communicate its ‘more than spark plugs’ message to garages, the firm recently launched a range of aftermarket products under the NTK division with over 150 part numbers, including 87 Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensors and 69 Manifold Absolute Pressure (MAP) sensors that have been ‘well received’ so far. In addition, the company updated its logos to bring awareness to both businesses. “In 2016, NGK developed a new brand identity with two new logos. “All ignition related products come under ‘NGK’s Ignition Parts’ with all sensor products coming under ‘NTK Vehicle Electronics’”, noted Hallam.

STAFF RETENTION
Staff longevity has played a crucial role in business expansion with most employees possessing over 20 years experience The standard setup involves a team of reps that are sent out to different regions in the country to work closely with existing customers by developing and keeping their stock holdings competitive as well as scouting out new leads to grow the firm’s UK footprint. “The NGK sales representatives are an asset to the company offering our customers market leading sales, product and technical support across the UK”, said Hallam. He adds that staff loyalty has played a big contribution towards the receiving its A1 Motor Stores Award, which proudly sits behind a glass trophy cabinet in the foyer area.

Going into the autumn and winter months, the team at Hemel Hempstead will continue growing the UK base organically through customer retention while hammering home the message of NGK and its various subsidiary brands. Although there are some new developments on the cards, everything is being kept top secret until a big reveal at Automechanika Frankfurt next year.

Posted in Factor & Supplier News, Garage News, News, Out and About with CAT, Retailer News, Sensors, Spark PlugsComments (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)

ZF AND HELLA SIGN SENSOR DEVELOPMENT DEAL

ZF AND HELLA SIGN SENSOR DEVELOPMENT DEAL

Dr. Stefan Sommer (L) and Dr. Rolf Breidenbach (R)

OE brands ZF and Hella have inked a deal which will see both suppliers cooperate on sensor technology, such as front cameras, imaging and radar systems.

Both firms will now begin a joint development project in camera technology, aiming for a market launch in 2020.

“This strategic partnership for sensor technology with Hella enhances our position as a complete systems supplier for modern assistance systems as well as autonomous driving functions,” says Dr. Stefan Sommer, CEO of ZF Friedrichshafen AG. “This non-exclusive cooperation with Hella is an important expansion of our Vision Zero ecosystem of development partnerships. Thus, we can create a wider technological foundation for safety and autonomous driving.”

Dr. Rolf Breidenbach, CEO at Hella KGaA Hueck & Co., added: “Hella is a strong and experienced provider of sensor technologies. Our knowledge aligns perfectly with ZF’s expertise. By combining our strengths, we clearly aim to provide market leading and high performing assistance systems and autonomous driving functions. In addition, this cooperation will strengthen Hella’s position as a well-regarded supplier for imaging and radar sensor technologies.”

Posted in Factor & Supplier News, Garage News, Latest News, News, Retailer News, SensorsComments (0)

TIGHTENING UP EMISSIONS

TIGHTENING UP EMISSIONS

Do you know your Lambda from your EGTS? Here’s a factor’s guide to what those small box parts actually do.

With the existing laws set by the Euro 6 legislation, the pressure for vehicle manufacturers to invest more resources into developing better vehicles that complied with the legislative guidelines are continuously scrutinised. Emission pollutants such as nitrogen oxide (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), total and non- methane hydrocarbons, as well as various particulate matters were expected to be reduced with the use of modern automotive technology.

Effective reduction of pollutants goes beyond ensuring that emissions control systems such as CATs and DPFs are up to scratch. Vehicle electronics and engine management systems are integral in optimising a vehicle’s efficiency and in turn, lowering its carbon footprint. With a wide array of products that support the lowering of harmful emissions, we thought it would be worth sharing some points about the significance of the various sensors that you deliver to garages everyday.

LAMBDA SENSORS
By the simplest definition, lambda sensors monitor the air- to-fuel ratio within the exhaust and relays the information to the ECU. Lambda sensors are vital to ensuring a vehicle’s optimal performance and aid to reduce harmful carbon emissions.

The perfect air-to-fuel ratio for optimum engine efficiency is known as the stoichiometric ratio. The stoichiometric ratio for a petrol engine is 14.7:1 in which 14.7 grams of air is needed for every 1 gram of fuel. This ratio allows for optimum fuel efficiency, wasting less fuel and in turn, producing the least amount of emissions.

Traditionally, lambda sensors produce a voltage signal based on the volume of air detected in the exhaust. If the mixture is too rich (too much fuel supplied), the sensor produces a voltage of around 0.9 volts. When the mixture is too lean (insufficient fuel supplied), it produces around 0.1 volts. A perfect stoichiometric ratio produces 0.45 volts. To compensate for imperfect mixture ratios, the ECU adjusts the fuel mixture by adding more fuel when the mixture is lean, or using less fuel when it is too rich.

Whilst traditional lambda sensors do the job of regulating the stoichiometric ratio, it was unable to provide the ECU with an accurate reading of how rich or lean the air-to-fuel ratio was. Lambda sensor technology needed to keep up with the demand of the tighter euro emission standards.

With the introduction of the 5-wire lambda sensor, the ECU is not only supplied with a signal that relays if the air-to-fuel ratio is running too rich or too lean, it also conveys by how much. This precise information is swiftly sent to the ECU to allow the vehicle to rectify the air-to-fuel ratio more efficiently and effectively and increate the overall performance of the vehicle.

EGTS

In comparison to lambda sensors, exhaust gas temperature sensors are relatively new. An EGTS measures the temperature of the exhaust gas that is monitored by the ECU to help prevent long-term damage to components. The EGTS protects a vehicle’s exhaust system from overheating, which is especially important when a diesel particulate filter regenerates. The DPF reduces the amount of soot that is released with exhaust fumes by collecting and storing it within the filter. Over time, soot accumulates within the filter and needs to be incinerated at extremely high temperatures
in order to remove from the exhaust system and release it in the surrounding air, safely.

Cambiare sensor thumb

Typically, exhausts run at temperatures in excess of 900C in order to successfully regenerate the DPF. At these extreme temperatures, thermal overload becomes a huge risk. The EGTS monitors the heat produced from the exhaust, supplying the ECU with a signal to ensure that the temperatures reached do not fall outside a vehicle’s safety parameters.

Due to the extreme conditions that EGTS operates in, they are prone to damage during exhaust component replacements. Therefore, they need to be replaced simultaneously with a DPF and/or exhaust, as opposed to waiting for the dashboard warning light to illuminate.

Timely replacement of an EGTS prevents damage to the DPF and subsequent engine damage. Our firm’s EGTS use two types of technology – positive temperature coefficient and negative temperature coefficient. PTC increases the resistance with the increase in temperature. NTC, works in an opposite fashion with the sensor producing Temp sensor less resistance as the temperature of the exhaust increases.

EGPS
EGPS are differential sensors that measure the pressure of gas between the intake and outtake the diesel particulate filter (DPF). By measuring the pressure, the EGPS communicates a voltage signal to the ECU. This enables the system to detect the level of soot and particles collected within the DPF. This information enables the ECU to monitor and detect when regeneration is required for efficient emissions reduction.

As a result, a malfunctioning sensor can cause a variety of problems which impacts the increase of oil consumption and emissions. If the sensor is faulty, DPF regeneration can increase unnecessarily leading to the shortening of the DPF lifespan.

Cambiare covers a range of applications within its portfolio of lambda sensors and EGTS. Stocking more than 100 EGTS and 500 lambda sensors, they are available from FPS via same/next-day delivery.

Posted in CAT Features, Factor & Supplier News, Garage News, News, SensorsComments (0)

NGK

Note: 2009 catalogue still valid now! Under the NTK brand name, NGK spark Plugs Ltd is the world’s largest producer of oxygen sensors. All sensors are direct fit and contain the necessary fittings, grommets and gaskets to ensure a fast, trouble free installation. Regular range extensions ensure that high vehicle parc coverage is achieved at all times and with such a large OE supply base complete confidence in the product is ensured. From the earliest single wire types to the latest five wire broadband varieties and its exclusive Titania design NTK sensors offer the ideal solution to your lambda supply requirements. Regularly refreshed catalogues containing connector images, sensor lead dimensions and full cross reference tables are available in various formats.

Posted in Catalogue Guide, SensorsComments (0)

Klarius: Lambda Sensors

Klarius Lambda Sensors are produced using the latest design and manufacturing processes. Suitable for most production cars – with over 548 products available. Can be fitted to Klarius and other brand systems. Its sensors are fully interchangeable with other leading brands – Klarius is confident that all of its sensors will match or beat the performance of a car’s OE sensor.

Posted in SensorsComments (0)

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