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BILSTEIN GROUP TO HOST RECRUITMENT EVENT

BILSTEIN GROUP TO HOST RECRUITMENT EVENT

Distribution centre is now completed

German parts maker Ferdinand Bilstein is holding a recruitment open day, taking place at its Markham Vale plant on Saturday 14th October.

The event will run from 10am until 16:00pm where potential employees will be given a tour of its new distribution centre in North-East Derbyshire, plus a rundown of all the job opportunities available on site.

The component manufacturer said up to 140 jobs will be up for grabs with full training provided to  candidates that make the cut.

For those interested in attending should get in touch with a member of the Bilstein team as soon as possible through the company website.

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GETTING BACK ON TRACK

GETTING BACK ON TRACK

Fires and floods have wreaked havoc on some aftermarket businesses, but how have they fared since their ordeals?

Water recedes showing ruined stock

Disasters in the aftermarket are not uncommon. In fact, it can have a double- edged sword effect on business. Either, roll down the shutters for good or rebuild the company from scratch, coupled with numerous calls to insurance firms and the like to get back on track. Here are the tales of three of them:

STREETWIZE ACCESSORIES
Accessories and leisure brand Streetwize, knows this experience all too well where a flood caused by a burst riverbank left the team with no choice but to relocate into temporary office space a stones throw from its Radcliffe site that had been submerged underwater. The results were catastrophic for Streetwize Director Murray Silverman with the accident causing £500,000 worth of damage to stock (excluding plant and office furniture) while wrecking tonnes of paper work and computer systems in the process.

After notifying the insurance authorities, Silverman and his team had the troublesome task of keeping business afloat by informing customers of the situation and organising every stock item rescued from the flood. “It was a lot of pain and a lot grief”, recalls Silverman, “Customers are very sympathetic when it happens but you can’t turn on the tap and get the stock back. The first phone call from customers was, ‘we’re very sorry about the flood, how are you doing?’ The second call is a catch up asking when stock is coming back and by the third it’s, ‘we sympathise with you but we’re going to have to go elsewhere’, which we understood”.

Not wanting a repeat of previous events, Silverman snapped-up a large 100,000 sq ft. warehouse in the Trafford Park Industrial Estate, Manchester, incorporating all of its storage facilities under one roof. However, an efficient new space didn’t come without its complications. “After the flood it was up to the sales guys to win back all the orders that we’d lost”, said Silverman. “There was also the grief of losing staff where many employees couldn’t travel with us because it was a new area further away”; adding that Streetwize incurred many costs subsidising staff for travel and expenses to and from the new site.

Despite over a year of negotiations with insurers, the team managed to replenish all stock within six months of transitioning to their latest premises and as it stands, the business seems to have recovered well housing around 50 staff and growing its sub- brand Leisurewize that now has a strong foothold the European aftermarket. “Since we left our old site, one of the biggest areas has been in the leisure group where we picked up the caravan mover and two years on, we’ve gone from zero to number two in the UK and ranked high as one of the leading brands in Europe”, Silverman added. “We might have had a struggle in the last place but this has contemplated that”.

LMA
Similarly, in June last year, aerosol maker LMA, which cans many aftermarket brands, fell victim to a fire that caused hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage at its site on the Pocklington Industrial Estate, East Yorkshire. Fortunately, nobody was injured and no production machinery was destroyed, meaning, the factory could resume its normal operations the very next day as it began the tiresome process of recovering its wares from the fire. However, LMA owner Fraser Todd notes that if it wasn’t for their suppliers’ support, the future of the business could have taken a turn for the worst. “Due to the amount of stock we lost, it was a couple of months before we could be back to running all of the thousands of product varieties which we manufacture”. Todd continued. “We received a lot of help from suppliers to get our stock levels back to where we need them. In the end, we appointed our own loss adjusters, so we could manage the recovery while they argued with our insurer. However, had we not been as established as we are, the efforts of our insurance company would have ensured that as a business we collapsed”.

LMA after the warehouse fire

14 months on, Todd says the company is still fighting tooth and nail with insurers over final payments for some capital items such as forklift trucks and racking. Although the dispute is still ongoing, some positives have emerged from the ordeal. For instance, a new 8,000 sq ft purpose built factory has been created on top of the old site, combining its previous two units into one, complemented with a more robust design. Todd elaborated. “Because of changes in building regulations since our previous warehouse was built, plus some specific planning demands, we couldn’t build exactly what we had before. So we’ve built something which is designed to cope and withstand a fire more effectively and allow us to grow and become better at what we do”. He adds that the new layout has improved its logistical operations making stock and picking processes more efficient.

J S AUTOS
Family- run garage J S Autos is currently undergoing a similar situation to LMA after a fire broke out and engulfed the building in flames. The accident took place down Empress Road, Southampton last April where 79 firefighters were called to tackle a blaze that had apparently been caused by ‘petrol welding’ from a repair business a few doors down, according to owner Jhalman Rai.

Unfortunately out of the three businesses involved, JS Autos took the brunt of it suffering from damaged windows, vehicles and the roof collapsing in on itself. ‘Shocked’ was definitely an understatement for Rai as he retold the story to the local press. “It’s 40 years of business down the drain”, he said. “It’s a family business and it happened so fast. Smoke started coming from it and then all of a sudden it just went up, flames everywhere and we had to get out.”

Nevertheless, this didn’t defeat the garage owner’s spirit and it was business as usual to get the company back off the ground. The workshop owner said his company is currently working from a temporary tyre depot not too far from the original building and is in the stage of ordering a new MOT bay to resume services for local customers. “We’re applying for an MOT station at the moment. At our original site we had two MOT bays but there are none available at our temporary one so we have had no choice but to farm out our MOT services”, Rai expands. “Once the site is cleared, we’re going to see what plans we can get and look into getting a quote. It’ll probably take around a year before planning and developing the new site”, adding that the garage is making the best of a bad situation by trying to keep customers happy and paying its bills as normal.

While the odds were against these aforementioned companies, they are living proof that having a clear structure and support system in place, will see businesses survive and thrive no matter what disaster is thrown at them.

SURVIVAL TIPS
To avoid any firms from going through a similar ordeal, our suppliers shared some expert advice to business owners in case such events should arise.

LMA’s Fraser Todd said, “Following on from our experience, we’d recommend you thoroughly check your insurance policy. Irrespective of what your broker tells you, don’t expect your insurer to help your recovery. Don’t think they’ll be honest and faithful”, he expands. “Most likely the insurance will appoint their loss adjustor who will argue about the cost of everything and the values you have insured to reduce the claim. They will be slow to pay and hold out to make you agree to lower payments”.

Streetwize Director Murray Silverman concurs and advises aftermarket firms to invest in strong and long-term working relationships to see them through those turbulent times. He said. “It’s very important to have the right people around you and it’s really work ethic and getting support from your suppliers. If it’s suppliers you’ve known for years they can help you, compared to ones that are new or don’t know much about your business”. Todd agrees and concluded. “Business works on relationships and provided you have good relationships with your customers and suppliers there’s no reason why you can’t survive what happened to us”.

Although it’s still early days for J S Autos, we are certain the independent will continue going from strength-to- strength as it continues its recovery process, post disaster.

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AN INSIDE JOB

AN INSIDE JOB

 It can leave a bad taste when an employee commits fraud, but it must be dealt with, writes Adam Bernstein.

It’s bad enough losing out to theft committed by customers and third-party criminals, but it can leave a particularly nasty taste in the mouth when those most trusted – staff – commit criminal acts against the business that employs them.

According to Action Fraud, one in five small businesses will have been defrauded at some point in their trading history – sometimes to the point of bringing the business to its knees.

In March 2010, The Journal reported that a 21-year-old garage – Knights of Newcastle – was put out of business after a trusted employee, Colin Prudham, used the company computer to print off 419 fake MOT test certificates. The fraud only earned Prudham £12,500. In February 2011, a former employee in the accounts department was convicted for stealing over £50,000 from Lanehouse Service Station in Weymouth over a six-year period. The managing director, Peter Amery, described Joyce Britnell’s actions as a “major betrayal.”

And in February 2013, a bookkeeper stole £210,000 from a family business involved in motorcycle publishing run by her friends. Amanda Stevens took the money for, among things, hair and clothes leaving the company – Redcat – to pick up the pieces. The fraud committed over a number of years was only discovered when the VAT couldn’t be paid.

TAKING ACTION
While fraud is an ever-present risk, and a destructive one at that, employers can take preventative measures.

Background
The first step is to proactively check on everyone that is employed by the business, especially where they have access to sensitive systems or the company bank account. Quite simply, firms need to know exactly who they are employing. References should be sought and followed up with calls; the matter shouldn’t be dropped until satisfactory answers are received. Everyone from the cleaner to the members of the board, as well as contractors, should be subject to background checks. At the very minimum, it’s important to confirm an employee’s identity, date of birth, residential address, qualifications, employment history, criminal history and financial background. The process can be undertaken as part of the statutory obligation to ensure that an employee has the legal right to work in the UK.

Another option is to ask for a recent bank or utility statement, as well as details to check on qualifications, or a marriage certificate if a married woman has changed her name. You can also ask for past P45 or P60s, as well as data from Disclosure and Barring Service. Credit agency Experian offer background checks for those in the automotive sector to enable employers to check on, for example, qualifications and experience. At the same time, by signing up with one of the credit reference agencies – Experian, Equifax or Callcredit – employers will be able to monitor if employee (or third party) activity has changed the financial status of the business.

Policies
Another large step that a business can take to protect its position is to engender the ethos that fraud is not tolerated within the business. This starts at the top with everyone being able to see that the management plays by the same rules that employees have to follow. Policies and procedures need to be written, but they also need ‘buy-in’ from employees which requires consultation. On joining, every employee should be given, among things, an anti-fraud policy. If a fraud should occur and the employee concerned is dismissed, the event and the consequences should be widely communicated to all staff as a deterrent.

Control access
As harsh as it sounds, firms need to strictly control access to their premises and systems. As soon as an employee leaves the company their access to systems should be terminated immediately. Passwords should be changed, passes revoked and possession should be regained of company laptops and mobiles. (It doesn’t hurt to regularly change passwords held and used by all employees).

Take action
If a faked history or worse, criminality, is suspected, it’s important to take good legal advice with a view to with- drawing any employment offer made (or dismissing the employee). The situation should be reported to the police or, in the case of illegal working, to the UK Border Agency, as well as to the recruitment agency if appropriate. Ignoring the issue will only shuffle the problem to another employer; it could also leave the firm open to claims from future employers who weren’t warned about the ‘rogue’ employee.

Check further
Processes need to be put in place so that no one person has sole control over payment systems, chequebooks or the ability to singly authorise purchases over a given (low) value. Invoices should be checked to ensure that they are from genuine suppliers; unexpected requests to change bank accounts should verified – every time; and suppliers should be informed in writing each time a payment is made.

It’s important to also prevent premium rate and international numbers from being dialled out on company phones. Premium rate fraud – also known as PBX or dial-through fraud) involved out of hours calls being made to particularly expensive numbers. Similarly, phone logs should be regularly checked for increased use or unusual call activity.

Lastly, firms should take steps to destroy any documents with sensitive information that may allow a fraudster to misuse the corporate identity for criminal gain.

For paper, this means acquiring a fine cut cross shredder, while for data, firms should securely wipe computers (physically destroying hard drives and USB sticks) while factory resetting mobile devices. At the same time, time spent signing up on Companies House and other agencies websites seeking out their online protections is worthwhile. Companies House, for example, offers the PROOF scheme in relation to the changing of official corporate details; it helps prevent the hijacking of a company.

Fraud is an unpleasant fact of life. However, those firms that make it harder for employees who are criminally minded will be much better off. By removing the opportunity they’ll remove the temptation.

WHAT TO BE AWARE OF

There are countless different ways that an employee can abuse trust. However, the main forms that firms should be on the watch for are:
Procurement fraud: Fraud relating to company purchases of goods, services or works commissioned. Goods are invoiced but not delivered, or are subject to inflated prices.

Travel and subsistence fraud: Where employees claim for, say, food and mileage not incurred or which is higher than receipts can show.

Personnel management: Staff on sick leave but moonlighting elsewhere, misuse of company equipment and time for private purposes, or the use of false references and qualifications.

Exploitation of assets and information: The passing of internal company information for personal gain.

Payment fraud: The creation of fake accounts and invoices, the redirection of cheques and other payments, or the processing payments to the fraudulent individual.

Receipt fraud: The theft of inbound monies or where records for monies owed are altered.

False accounting: Changing records and accounts to misrepresent their true value, to enhance or alter their appearance, to gain funds from a bank, report overly high profits or to hide losses.

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AUTOSUPPLIES ACQUIRES BUTLERS AUTOMOTIVE

AUTOSUPPLIES ACQUIRES BUTLERS AUTOMOTIVE

Autosupplies Chesterfield Ltd has acquired Barnsley based motor factor Butlers Automotive with immediate effect.

The acquisition is the first of its kind for Autosupplies, having grown its head office and Bolsover branch to be one of the largest single branch motor factors in the UK, occupying a 40,000sqft site and employing more than 90 members of staff and managing a fleet of more than 50 delivery vehicles.

Butlers Automotive has been trading in Barnsley for more than 40 years, but in the past year has suffered setbacks with the tragic loss of both its owners Philip and Nicollette Parkin.

Tony Porter, Butlers Automotive Director, said: “To ensure the business continues to move forward, it needs to be under the stewardship of a vibrant business that understands the values of Butlers Automotive and that of its customers. We are delighted that family run business Autosupplies Chesterfield Ltd will be taking the business forward.”

David Clarke, Autosupplies Managing Director, said: “Firstly, I would like to pay tribute to Tony and the staff at Butlers Automotive for their professionalism and courage during a very difficult period.

“We are delighted to have secured Butlers Automotive’s future and can’t wait to get started. The name Butlers Automotive is highly regarded in Barnsley for its customer service and it is a name and brand that we are determined to grow. The business is founded on traditional values and this, coupled with the backing of the UK’s largest single branch motor factor in Autosupplies, means an exciting future ahead.”

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IAAF CONFERENCE SPEAKERS ANNOUNCED

IAAF CONFERENCE SPEAKERS ANNOUNCED

The proceedings for the IAAF’s Annual Conference are well underway with a variety of industry speakers set to take centre stage and discuss the ‘real’ issues affecting the aftermarket, post Brexit.

So far, confirmed speakers include Dr. Julia Saini (Frost and Sullivan), Allistair Preston (whocanfixmycar) as well as Steve Nash (IMI), Olaf Heffing (Mahle) and more. The event will be facilitated by racing car legend Johnny Herbert who will help debate other topics on the federation’s agenda including the Connected Car and the government’s recent announcement for the abolishment of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040.

IAAF Chief Exec Wendy Williamson said, “The expertise, experience and insight provided by our speakers will, I believe, feature in the future strategic planning of all those that attend”, she added. “We’re looking to the future, but we also recognise the pressures faced by our members today and will aim to provide some clarity and insight into these challenges”.

This year’s conference will take place at the Players Suite, Double Tree by Hilton on Thursday 7th December. For those invited, don’t forget your black tie!

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KEEPING A CAP ON THE PRESSURE

KEEPING A CAP ON THE PRESSURE

Times are changing in the radiator business, but Nick White has adapted.

NRG is the only radiator shop in Leeds.

There was a time when every market town in the land had a couple of independent radiator reconditioners, or at least a branch of a national chain such as Serck Marston. However, time moves on. “Reconditioning of car radiators is a dying industry” said Nick White, proprietor of Leeds- based Northern Radiators. “Radiators used to be copper and brass so you either went to the main dealer for a new one, or came to us to recondition it. Now the tanks are plastic, there is not the need”.

“The factories can just stamp out the plastic tanks and that’s what they do in China”. White adds that because some of these companies supply the public directly through auction sites, trying to import and compete in this sector is a waste of effort. “There’s more profit in selling the radiator cap on eBay than there is selling the whole unit” he remarked glibly.

However, where there’s brass, there’s more brass (as the old Yorkshire saying almost goes) and Northern Radiators has cut out a niche for itself in remanufacturing heavy duty and specialist rads that do still have heavy metal construction. “We do both corporate and private accounts, from councils and airports to people with classic cars” White explains, and to demonstrate the fact we went and had a look at the workshop’s ‘in tray’. Straight away we noticed some familiar-looking classic references, apparently from a Ford Cortina and a Triumph Vitesse, while another customer dropped off a radiator from his Rolls-Royce as we were speaking.

RANGE
Alongside these rads sat some more heavy-duty ones, apparently from fork-lift trucks, while another couple of huge and ancient-looking units waited, which had apparently come from backup generators in the basement of a building somewhere. Apart from cooling system radiators, the firm can also supply and recondition oil coolers, intercoolers and heater matrixes. It also offers a service to repair fuel tanks and sump pans.

Despite White’s earlier dismissal of new replacement rads, the firm does stock a number of quality performance parts from suppliers Mishimoto and Koyo, mainly as upgrades over OE for vehicles such as Subaru Impreza and Mitsubishi Evo. These high-end parts are bought by enthusiasts and command a reasonable margin.

While the firm has been at its current 3000 sq ft location for a few years, it dates back much further. In fact, the business was started in 1920. After the second world war, Nick White’s father Paul started his own radiator company following demobilisation. He acquired Northern Radiators in 1948. Now 94 years old and retired he still takes an active interest in the company. Northern Radiators was set up as a company in 1920. My father had come out of the army and started is own radiator company after the war and acquired Northern Radiators in 1948. He’s name is Paul White and he is 94 and still alive” said White.

TRADITION
Another traditional aspect of the business is the way in which radiators are recored which could make a fascinating article of its own, but in short involves quite a lot of hydrochloric acid and radiators tested under pressure. “The principal remains exactly the same” agrees White. “With modern health and safety we are a bit more switched on than a traditional operation, but radiators are very similar”.

And according to White, it will continue to be radiators at the ‘core’ of the business for a while yet. “We’ve tried various other things but we always keep coming back to radiators. At the moment we are very busy on radiators, just seven people. We are lean and mean and it is manageable” he concluded.

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KNOW YOUR LIMITS: SET AN ALCOHOL POLICY

KNOW YOUR LIMITS: SET AN ALCOHOL POLICY

What is the best policy for booze in the workplace?

Sensible policies for alcohol at work are encouraged

Do you have a policy on alcohol in the workplace? If you don’t then you are hardly unusual as most British companies either don’t have anything written at all, or they swing the other way and have an absolute zero-tolerance policy… which may or may not be enforced.

However, you should have a policy in place and have the means to enforce it. As the trend for fines for corporate manslaughter and injury continues to significantly increase across the UK, the emphasis on employers to operate strong and effective health and safety policies and practices has never been more vital.

KNOW THE LAW
Aside from drugs and alcohol costing British businesses in excess of £6 billion per year in lost productivity, under the Transport and Works Act 1992 it is a criminal offence for any worker to be unfit to operate due to drink or drugs and employers must show due diligence to prevent such offences from occurring in the workplace.
Laws that relate to drink- driving are of special interest to motor factors or any other business that has a van fleet. Don’t forget that limits vary within the UK with England, Wales and Northern Ireland having the highest permitted limit of 35 micrograms per 100ml of breath, compared to Scotland’s reduced limit of 22 micrograms, which is in line with the majority of the rest of Western Europe.

BEST PRACTICE
Of course, these limits are perhaps moot if your company has an absolute zero policy on alcohol. However, such a policy might not actually be the best plan. Suzannah Robin, a Director at breathalyzer maker AlcoDigital said: “One of the first steps in setting best practice policy is deciding a company alcohol limit. There will be many factors determining what this should be and it will very much depend on your business operations, however, we would always recommend that an employer sets the limit below the current legal drink-driving limit rather than at a dead zero”.

“Whilst zero may sound like a target every business should be aiming for, it can also cause issues where there may be discrepancies in results, caused by things such as liquor in chocolates or alcohol in medicines. Instead, using a scale of differing limits to determine the next steps an employer should instigate in the event of a positive alcohol test will provide staff with a clear set of rules and help to avoid any unjustified gross misconduct disciplinaries” she added.

EVIDENCE
If a company intends to screen staff on a regular basis it can use a Home Office approved breathalyzer. However, should a screening test reveal a positive result, a company will be obliged to re-test the employee.

Of course it isn’t just about the type of equipment being used, but also how the procedure is carried out and followed through. This means making sure staff implementing alcohol workplace policy have the sufficient training to perform such tests fairly and effectively. Robin explained: “If an employer does not follow best practice policy this can cause issues further down the line, particularly if an employee has tested positive for alcohol. Therefore, professional and reliable training is absolutely crucial for those being assigned to implement alcohol testing policies in the workplace.”

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SUKHPAL AND LKQ: ‘SIGNIFICANT INVESTMENT’ IN HGV FACTOR CHAIN

SUKHPAL AND LKQ: ‘SIGNIFICANT INVESTMENT’ IN HGV FACTOR CHAIN

Truck part supplier Digraph Transport Supplies has been acquired in a joint deal between LKQ Corporation and Sukhpal Singh Ahluwalia. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

The move is significant as it marks the first time that both the founder of Euro Car Parts and the corporation that now own it have embarked on a deal as joint investors.

14-branch Digraph will retain all current employees and James Rawson will remain as MD. Rawson has also made an investment in the business.

CAT spoke briefly to Sukhpal to confirm the deal had taken place. He said that the ‘fragmented’ state of the HGV parts market lead it to being an area considered for expansion into for some time and that Digraph was the best fit in terms of matching ECPs ‘sales and customer service ethic’.

In a statement to his team, James Rawson said: “This investment will enable Digraph to access to the resources we need to grow the business and implement our expansion plans. We will work closely with ECP to enhance customer service levels. I am thrilled to be working with Sukhpal and taking up the challenge of extending the Digraph service to customers throughout the UK.”

In related news, Sukhpal has extended his three-year contract with ECP, retaining his position as Executive Chairman.

 

 

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AUTOMECHANIKA BIRMINGHAM 2018 LAUNCHED

AUTOMECHANIKA BIRMINGHAM 2018 LAUNCHED

The preparations for next year’s Automechanika Birmingham are underway, with Show Director Simon Albert confirming that ‘over 300’ exhibitors have signed up so far.

Following a summer of touring the country and talking to exhibitors, the organisers are planning a number of new initiatives for the show. “One of the main things is improved networking” said Albert. “For exhibitors we are going to have a ‘facilitated meetings’ programme, so you can make appointments to have meetings with visitors on your stand”. He added that the event will host a network evening, where exhibitors and certain visitor groups can talk shop with each other.

2018 will also see a renewed focus on workshops. “We are also looking at garages, and we have had a lot of requests asking that the event caters more for them, so we are extending opening hours one evening, as we are aware that shutting their businesses early or all day is a barrier” said Albert. “Plus, garages will have their own dedicated hall, Hall 19. They can meet all of the tools and equipment manufacturers and they can certainly get a good return on investment on their day”.

Following the 2018 show, the orgainisers have announced plans to make the show a biennial event. Keep a lookout for the October CAT for more info.

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GET YOUR THERMALS ON

GET YOUR THERMALS ON

Ceramic coating process in action.

Oxford-based Zircotec’s ceramic heat shielding technology was first developed for the nuclear industry during the 1970’s when the manufacturer was still part of the UK Atomic Energy Authority. But after a management-buyout in 2008, the terms and conditions of becoming a Limited corporation meant the firm would have to relocate from its nuclear license site in Harwell and that’s what the team did, setting up an independent operation at their new digs in Abingdon seven years ago.

One of the employees that assisted with this buyout was Zircotec MD Terry Graham, who was keen to talk about the the firm’s latest multi-cloured offering Performance Colours. “Many aftermarket firms purchase these, because if they’re spending large amounts of money on modifying a vehicle and adding fittings to engine compartments, the coating will protect those extra features that they’ve installed”. He adds that the robust design eliminates the need for exhaust wraps. Although these components look pleasing enough, it’s the thermal barrier protection that is why people buy it as exhaust surface temperatures are reduced by a third.

PRODUCTION
The first thing you need to know when entering the facility is that you’ll not find the team with brushes and pots of emulsion to hand. Instead, expect high tech machinery and designated workstations designed for the electrolysis process right up to inspection and distribution. To facilitate this, the warehouse incorporates a masking lab, four grit blasters as well as three spray booths and several baking ovens for those colour specifications to set before ending up in Zircotec branded packaging.

Our first checkpoint was the delivery room filled with tailpipes, turbochargers and manifolds sent in from workshops and OEMs. Once the order is logged, it enters the masking lab next door where parts are carefully marked-up on customer request. Explaining the reasons for this, Graham said. “Customers don’t want coatings on certain parts such as the slip joints or serial number. This is because the coating has a certain thickness (0.3mm to be exact) so if we applied it on these parts, they wouldn’t fit together properly”.

The component then enters a grit blaster machine to smoothen its surface before ending up in one of three plasma spray booths where a metallic-based bond coating is applied for secure adhesion between the ceramic and substrate. Two hours after the operation, the product re-enters the booth so the ceramic coating can be ‘welded’ on. “With intense processes and temperatures, people ask us if we ever damage the pipe, and the answer is that we don’t”, Graham replied. “We are in effect ‘welding’ liquid metal or ceramic that we’re firing to the pipe. Each particle welds itself in place but doesn’t damage the pipe” adding that the spray gun melts the ceramic particles at 10,000°c and twice the speed of sound, which would explain the screeching noise coming from the booths.

For its Carbon Composite and Performance White coatings, Graham notes that parts coming in for this service will receive a similar setup in order to provide thermal protection for glass fibre, plastics and composite materials through its Thermohold formulation. Of course, working under any of
these intense conditions means staff are kitted out in the correct clothing, eye and ear protection before the finished article receives its final checks.

BRANCHING OUT
A new test facility is currently in its mock-up stage and will be completed later this year. As for the Performance Colour Range, the team are scratching the imagination with new and vibrant colours to replace some current ones in order to keep the line fresh and competitive.

In addition to this, the business has taken on some more projects from OEMs and has objectives to develop its exhaust coating portfolio and distribution networks overseas. “Our aim is to start testing out coatings in different arrangements and getting further improvements to the performance of them” Graham said. “Quite often are aftermarket customers don’t buy on performance so I’d like to obtain some more data and relay it back to them. We do quite a lot of work for these companies but there is still much more to be had” he concluded.

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