Tag Archive | "aftermarket"

TRADE BODIES UNITE TO FORM CONSENSUS GROUP

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TRADE BODIES UNITE TO FORM CONSENSUS GROUP


An aftermarket organisation has launched, bringing together a number of trade bodies and groups. The Automotive Aftermarket Liaison Group (AALG) has a stated aim of lobbying on issues that ‘affect the aftermarket in a post-Brexit Britain’.

Launched at an event held at Silverstone, the Group comprises of an alphabet soup of existing groups. These are: IAAF, IGA, GEA NTDA, the IMI and the SMTA. Representatives from all of the bodies explained the need to have a strong and united voice for the aftermarket on issues such as block exemption and guaranteed access to data, both of which are under threat in the so-called ‘Great Repeal Bill’set to take place when the UK leaves the EU.

Sandy Burgess, Chief Exec. of SMTA (Scottish Motor Traders Assoc.) commented: “As we progress towards the ‘Brexit date’, the landscape for our industry will change no doubt creating any number of situations which will generate the need for significant and potentially costly change. Acting as a strong united body the AALG will be able to use the pooled resource of the members to ensure a clear interpretation of the impacts of these changes and provide clarity of understanding to assist those within the industry to take sensible action to mitigate these impacts”.

The AALG has a rotating presidency. Currently, the IGA is at the head, so Stuart James is the point of contact for anyone in the aftermerket

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PAYING ATTENTION TO DETAIL

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PAYING ATTENTION TO DETAIL


Pri Chauhan shows us around a recruitment business that has an unusual point of difference.

Pete George and Pri Chauhan (R)

Imagine for a moment that you own a successful recruitment business and you wish to expand, what would the next step be? Perhaps you’d hire more staff and find a larger office? You might want to reach out to more potential clients through social media such as LinkedIn or Google Circles.

PG Automotive, a firm that wanted to expand from a small business suite wished to do all of these, but simply renting a f loor of an office block must have seemed too pedestrian for the management duo of Pete George and Pri Chauhan. Both are huge petrol-heads and the recruitment business that they own is focussed on the aftermarket… So perhaps it wasn’t such a huge leap of logic that they decided to expand into car detailing. The idea for the business was hit on following a meeting with Reep CEO Chris McDonald.

EXPANSION
The industrial unit chosen for the expansion is a lofty building, which PG fitted out with an upstairs area used for the recruitment agency offices. These are what you might expect, but it is the ground f loor that is altogether more interesting. A reception area resembles a boho New York loft, complete with contemporary furniture and lifestyle magazines. This leads through to a number of client rooms, which have floor to ceiling internal windows that look over the detailing bays. These rooms, which are also tastefully furnished can be either used for clients visiting the recruitment consultants, or for people wanting to watch and wait as their vehicle is detailed. “We did a lot of it ourselves” Chauhan recalled. “It cost Pete (George) a bad back and me a double hernia”.

Don’t confuse this operation with the sort of hand car washes you see in closed-down petrol
stations on trunk roads around the country. Reep comprises of some of the highest-end detailing products in the industry including Swissvax UK, Koch Chemie and Gtecniq. Indeed, it does not refer to itself as a distributor of car cleaning materials – the website prefers the term ‘world class surface technology’.

SERVICE
Whatever you want to call the service, the vehicles on the work area f loor on the day of our visit show that PG’s networking skills have resulted in a client base that most independent garages can only dream of. The car nearest the door to us was a mid-1960s Mustang convertible and it was probably the least valuable vehicle in the building. Waiting in the queue were two Ferrari 458s, an Aston and several Porsches and while we were visiting another car, which we think was a Lamborghini Aventador was unloaded from a curtain side trailer.

Ferrari 458 looking shiny

Having the detailing business has worked well for the recruitment firm as Chauhan says it gives the firm a point of differentiation and links it inextricably with the aftermarket. “I’ve enjoyed bringing clients here and they get it straight away. If there is a particular car in that they like we’ll arrange to see them while it is in and they can have a picture with it – though they can’t sit in it!” smiles Chauhan.

The bays themselves are described as F1-themed, though to our mind they more resembled spray booths in a bodyshop. Each one is temperature controlled and evenly lit and none have anywhere for dirt or contamination to build up. Alongside usual detailing facilities, the Gtechniq ceramic protection mentioned by Chauhan has been popular as it is tougher and more durable than traditional paint protection offered by dealerships.

One area where the bosses don’t get their hands dirty is in the detailing itself. As a recruitment company, it wasn’t too hard to find experienced professionals that wanted to work in a place such as this.

Indeed, it hasn’t been much trouble in getting anyone through the door as the team found at a launch event on a cold, wet Sunday in February. A capacity crowd turned up at the industrial estate to see some of the exotic cars that had been brought by customers to the gleaming facility. We’ll be interested to see how this hybrid business develops over the coming months.

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STEELS THE ANSWER IN MODERN GASKETS


We know what a gasket is, but what does it actually do, and how?

Fibre gaskets now less popular

What is a gasket? It sounds like an obvious question, but in point of fact, it is not the easiest to answer. Some would say it is any flexible material used to mate two surfaces, while others would have a more technical answer that distinguishes a gasket from a seal. Others, particularly those that own anything powered by the Rover K-series, might have another (possibly unprintable) definition of a gasket.

But for the rest of the aftermarket, when someone talks of gaskets they are generally referring to the cylinder head gasket, which as everyone knows is to act as an air, oil and watertight seal between the head and the block. If the gasket blows when the engine overheats then the driver will hopefully notice the sudden increase in temperature and take action before the head warps or the block cracks.

COMPOSITION
Head gaskets generally used to be made from a form of fibre, but these days are more often than not made from steel. The reason for this is that the crush rate is far more predictable, meaning the head can be tightened with a torque wrench without needing to carefully half-tighten each of the bolts in turn.

Another reason for using steel is that with crush gaskets the height of the cylinder head can vary, literally depending on how much the gasket is crushed under the cylinder head. This might seem like an inconsequential amount, but it makes a difference to modern fuel injectors that have a tolerance of only a few microns.

Steel gasket

PROBLEMS
However, steel gaskets have not been without problems. OEMs have battled with creating a gasket that will apply an adequate amount of pressure to stop gasses from escaping. One way of doing this is to add an additional ‘fire ring’ into the steel, although some aftermarket gaskets don’t have this welded ring, instead relying on a ring folded into the metal. Last time we addressed this issue, we spoke to Dominic Moxon, a Senior Product Engineer at FAI Automotive who explained: “The problem is this folded design will not last as it will not be able to cope with the pressures generated in the combustion chamber”.
Clearly, having to do a job twice, particularly an involved and complex task like a head gasket, so it pays to track down a gasket of a similar design to whatever was fitted to the vehicle originally.

WELL I’LL BE BLOWN… GASKET MYTHS DEBUNKED
Paul Grosvenor from Mahle advises that one of the most common misconceptions is that a good plan with a diesel engine is to replace the head gasket with a thicker one.

“It is not best practice to do that” he says. “The difference in the gasket thickness exists primarily because of the tolerance on other parts. It can ultimately affect the emissions levels by using a thick gasket when it should use the thinnest one”.

“Best practice is to fit like for like, because gasket thickness is calculated on the protrusion of the piston from the engine block so if they are only changing the head gasket they should fit the same as was fitted on it originally”.

UNDERLYING ISSUE
Dominic Moxon of FAI Automotive says that if a head gasket has been fitted for some time suddenly goes then technicians need to look for an underlying cause. “There is always a reason for it failing whether that is down to a manufacturing process, installation issues or a running fault”.

REMAN STANDARD
Simply replacing the gaskets and cleaning a used engine does not make it a remanufactured part. In the UK, the Federation of Engine Remanufacturers agreed a set standard for remanned engines 20 years ago and more recently agreed a strict definition with six other trade groups. John Gray, FER President, said: “The remanufacturing industry has lead the acceptance of a range of terms that have UK origins. This international agreement also provides us with further proof that remanufacturing is on the rise, which is extremely positive for the industry.”

Best practice is to fit gaskets like for like

COOLING BLOCK
Pour-in instant head gasket is hardly a professional repair, but claims that it will clog or cause damage to the cooling system appear to be wide of the mark, at least if you are using the Steel Seal product. “It contains no fibrous material to seal your blown head gasket. It relies on a thermo chemical bonding process that is a chemical reaction, to seal the leak in your blown head gasket” reads a statement from the company.

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DOING BUSINESS ON THE EDGE OF EUROPE

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DOING BUSINESS ON THE EDGE OF EUROPE


BGA Automotive stand at show

Why go all the way to Turkey to go to a trade show? It was certainly a question on my mind as I hurtled for an hour along miles of bus-only expressways on one of Istanbul’s Metro buses, which are both terrifyingly fast and constantly carry a crush-load of passengers.

If you’ve been watching the news recently, you’ll know that the country has had a period of instability. Tensions between secularists who want the country to resemble Western Europe and conservative Islamists who do not, have been bubbling under the surface for years, leading to a number of chaotic and occasionally violent protests. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan politically survived an attempted coup d’etat last year, after which he purged the country of most of the judiciary and any journalists that dared to question his strategy were thrown in gaol – all of which puts the UK’s bickering about the snap election in the shade.

IMPORTANCE
However, the importance of the motor trade in Turkey cannot be understated. It is both a huge producer and a consumer of parts and complete vehicles, and so the organisers of Automechanika chose to franchise a show here.

The show has the look and feel of other non-Frankfurt editions with a mixture of big OE brands, smaller and more specialist suppliers plus a mix of diagnostic tool dealers, car wash suppliers and accessory brands – of which a disproportionate number seem to sell little but garish curtains for trucks, complete with tassels and pelmets. It takes little more than a cursory look through the programme guide to note that regional and Far-Eastern producers have the lion’s share of stands and space. Turkish companies were by far the largest exhibitors, in terms of number of exhibitors with the Chinese coming in second place. Between them, the two countries took up two-thirds of stands. So did other exhibitors get a look in?

The answer according to some of the other exhibitors was yes. “Everything here rolls on rubber” Paul Aylett, a Sales Manager at UK rotating electrics firm Prestolite told us, explaining why Turkey was important. His statement is correct, road freight makes up the vast bulk of the infrastructure in what is both a highly industrial and geographically vast country. A look at Istanbul, a city of some 15 million people, shows that there is seemingly no end to the number of light vehicles snarled up in constant horn-tooting traffic.

But why would any of Turkey’s distributors, all of which we noted were present at the show, choose to take on products from smaller UK brands? “It is about quality, but it is partly down to brand UK” said Chris Cameron from BGA Automotive. “The service people receive from British companies is noted for being consistent, 43,874 for international which is a strength”. This point is repeated when we visit Land Rover parts distributor AllMakes 4×4. Richard Howe, the MD is keen to tell us about the ‘added value’ that firms like his can provide. “It’s all about knowing the standards and service that you can expect from a firm like ours” he said.

That isn’t to say that doing business in Turkey is easy, regardless of whether you are importing or exporting. Wherever there is political instability, there will be a fluctuating currency and when considering the value of our own plummeting pound, it might be that the bulk purchase you shook on a few months previously, suddenly seems not such a great deal after all. A chat with the team on the Autopumps UK stand revealed that the prices of some castings from Turkey had increased by a third in recent months – and while the quality is good, there are other options.

Another point worth mentioning is the language. If you have ever been to trade shows further east, in Dubai for example, you’ll know that English is widely spoken and the de facto language of business. In Turkey, this doesn’t seem to be the case, so whether you are planning to exhibit, do business, or simply visit a trade show in the country it would be wise to bring someone who speaks the lingo with you.

CULTURAL BUSINESS
There are other cultural factors to be aware of when doing business in Turkey as well as Sezin Ata of FM Consulting told us, following a presentation at the show. “The decision process is long, but don’t push it” she warns, adding that people rarely like to say ‘no’… and you’ll find that out when they don’t say ‘yes’. She said that most business leaders in the country trust their individual contacts rather that written agreements – which is not unlike the UK aftermarket, but it does stress the importance of making the effort to get out here and shake the boss man’s hand, even if the deal value is low.

Sculpture in Tuap Expo Centre

Another point Ata made was the form of business meetings. “Very often there will be more than one person at the meeting – the boss and a senior engineer is typical. However, you might note that the engineer doesn’t say anything… Doesn’t he have anything to bring to the meeting?” she says.

“Actually, this is because businesses in Turkey often have a strong leader and submissive employees. They’ll give their opinion on the meeting when the boss asks them later” she explained.
All this sounds like it is a matcho culture, but Sezin believes that business in Turkey is on the whole ‘more feminine than masculine’ because of the numerous decisions based on human relationships, rather than simply the balance sheet.

It is ironic that as Britain has been seeking to leave the EU that Turkey has been attempting to join it – although the brakes seem to have been put on that process for now. As both countries are on the periphery of the Eurozone, it seems logical that both will want to do deals and ties with each other.

COUNTRY PAVILIONS
Noticeable by its absence was any form of UK Pavilion, although the UK businesses that were exhibiting were mostly grouped in the same hall.

Until recently, SMMT would arrange an area for members to exhibit at various international trade shows, under the banner ‘Business is GREAT Britain’.

The reasons for dropping this varied depending on who we spoke to, but what you couldn’t avoid noticing was ho ‘brand Germany’ brought it’s A-game.

The gleaming white pavilion with a well-designed and uniform theme was a focal point for visitors who made a bee-line for the Teutonic gear (although they always scattered every time I tried to point a camera
at them).

Another small but important point about the German stands was that the Board of Trade had been organised enough to produce some decent printed material in the form of a booklet that gave a short and serious explanation of each of the companies and how they can help. This document aped the style of all of the official Messe Frankfurt literature –
it was a top job.

Brexit means that British companies are going to have to seek business outside the EU and it is my opinion as Editor that the DTI should pay close attention to the Germans and offer something similar at cost price.

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DEALING WITH HAZARDOUS WASTE

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DEALING WITH HAZARDOUS WASTE


Ross Barnes explains there is an ethical issue as well as a financial one in reprocessing catalysts.

You’ve most likely heard the old saying: where there’s muck there’s brass”. This might be true, but a more accurate phrase could be: “There’s money where there is hazardous waste”.

This is the case at Autoparts Precious Metals, which has become one of the first companies authorised to deal with RCF matting.

TOXIC SUBSTANCES
RCF matting is a toxic substance found in catalytic converters and it is part of the thermal insulation that separates the core of the device and the outer can that holds it onto the exhaust system. Think of the most deadly kind of asbestos and you are on the right lines.

The good news is that RCF is only found in a minority of catalysts. The bad news is that no-one knows which ones as there was never any requirement on the part of the producers to declare or label products with the material. As such, every single catalyst that is recycled needs to be treated the same way. You can’t differentiate” said Ross Barnes, MD of Autoparts Precious Metals. “All catalytic converters have to be treated as hazardous waste if they are going to be smelted for material extraction”. He adds that a typical converter weighing four kilos will have no more than fifty grammes of matting in it, but that is not the point. It is a known carcinogen, and Autoparts Precious Metals is one of a tiny handful of recyclers in the UK that are allowed to deal with it.

However, before this can happen there is a certain amount of paperwork to do. “The first thing was to apply for a variation permit” said Barnes. “We are a processor, so we had to apply for an entirely new hazardous waste handling permit, which we now have and we are one of the only few in the country to have it to date”.

The legislation was late in coming as the problem has been known about for years. “Catalysts have always been hazardous waste” explains Barnes, adding that the Environment Agency that have introduced the changes in the rules have themselves been seeking advice on the best course of action.

PERMITS
Barnes explains that getting hold of the permit was difficult. “We had to use a consultant” he said, adding that the plant had to be thoroughly inspected. “We’ve had to have our extractors checked and monitored, but they are all up to spec as they had been serviced regularly and all cleared first time”.

MD Ross Barnes and Purchasing Manager Tina Courtnell

Not all of the catalysts and DPFs that come into Autoparts are smelted. “As a core dealer, we purchase a lot of DPFs for re-use” he said, explaining that complete units destined for re-use simply require a transfer note.

We’re keen to see this operation for ourselves, so accompanied by Barnes and Purchase Manager Tina Courtnell we head into the main hangar, where core is stored. The main warehouse is neat and well ordered, although we are quite pleased to see that the smelting of the scrap cats does not take place on site.

“Once separated the metal goes off for scrap steel – it is non hazardous, while the ceramic, which is coated with washcoat and precious metals goes off to our partner’s smelter in Germany and then the RCF has to be properly disposed of” Barnes assures us. “When it leaves us there is a consignment note and we’ve separated the hazardous part from it and the rest goes back into the system”.

CORE COLLECTION
Although RCF is the conversation of the day, recycling catalysts and DPFs is only a small part of the operation. ABS units, A/C compressors, clutches, EGR valves and electronic power steering drives are just a few of the parts that are collected for remanufacture.

The warehouse is built in a courtyard with a number of sub- units around the perimeter that have various uses. On our visit, we were interested to see that one of these units was busy re-facing used clutch kits, which is still popular for clutches fitted to performance cars (we saw a parts trolley full of clutches for the Subaru Impreza). Indeed, clutches were the original part of the business as the company was established to arrange the collection of used clutches back in 1994 when Barnes saw parts in a garage he was working in getting thrown in the bin. “At the time, there was hardly anyone collecting core for remanufacturing. Scrap was about £5 per tonne and clutches were just getting thrown in the bin”.

Clutch core storage

By contrast, prices for parts were still high in the nineties as there was very little in the way of cheap components from the Far East on the market at the time, so it was good business to supply those that were able to remanufacture with quality core.

ETHICAL VALUES
However, it wasn’t just the financial issue that appealed to Barnes. There was an ethical element to it as well. “My boss said to me ‘I can see us opening our landfills one day and mining them’. We’re not there yet, but it was forward thinking. How can you mine ore on the other side of the world and make it into starters, alternators or clutches… and then just throw them? You’ve only got to get them out of the ground somewhere else and it is going to run dry” he said. “That’s what we’ve been doing with catalytic converters, because precious metals make it viable”.

Equally, high-tech parts such as ECUs, actuators and ABS systems are collected, for which the firm has been working with factors, where parts are purchased as a ‘sort of package’. “We can even offer a service where the customer can box parts up and send them to us” said Barnes in conclusion. “It is worth money, and more than that, if it can be used somewhere then it should be.

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GSF OPENS BRISTOL NORTH BRANCH

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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.

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THE FUTURE OF CLUTCH SALES

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THE FUTURE OF CLUTCH SALES


Is there a healthy future for dual mass flywheels and conversion kits? Daniel Moore investigates.

Dual mass flywheels (DMFs) absorb excess torque and dampening vibrations to allow smoother engine running at lower rpms. This process is carried out by storing rotational energy and releasing it over short periods of time, which, in turn, provides a silkier ride for the motorist while conforming to VMs’ objective to lower fuel consumption and emissions.

ZF DMF

DMF FAILURE
However, some problems can occur if DMFs wear, usually manifesting in a noisy and unpleasant journey for drivers, along with potential damage to the gearbox and crankshaft before the DMF fails alltogether. Nick Symons, Clutch Product Manager at ZF Services UK, notes. “Driving in high gear at low rpm or running the engine while stationary for long periods (to maintain air conditioning while parked for example) can cause premature wear to the dampening mechanism of the flywheel due to low-speed oscillation”. Frank Massey, Owner of ADS Automotive expands on Symons’ statement. “Most DMF clutches are wet clutches that require services and oil changes. Incorrect servicing and oil being used, or the wrong tools used for transmission work can be contributing factors to DMF failure”, he said.

 

Miten Parikh, Product Manager at Comline, explains that a trend towards VM’s fitting DMF’s on newer vehicles could result in increased labour time and a cost for the garage, especially if a replacement clutch is needed. He elaborates. “Vehicle manufacturer production lines are increasingly utilising the more complex DMF clutch options with around 50 percent of all new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles are equipped with a dual mass flywheel. From the garage perspective, this means more DMF clutch issues arriving in the workshop requiring increasingly complex and time-consuming repairs”.

CONVERSION KITS

During a time where most consumers are driven on price, there’s also been an uptake in solid mass flywheel (SMF) conversion kits entering the market, often used as a budget alternative and time-saving option to replace worn DMF’s and their associated components. Some may recall the four-piece clutch kit developed by clutch maker Valeo, introduced in 2005 that was produced as an alternative to cut out expenses and fitment times for workshops.

However, technicians are still faced with a dilemma whether to replace a similar DMF originally manufactured for the vehicle or order in a conversion kit to complete the installation procedure. According to Malcolm Short, Technical Services Manager for Schaeffer Automotive Aftermarket UK, there can be risks involved with installing conversion kits that don’t match the same criteria as the DMF taken off the vehicle. “Fitting conversion kits, essentially a solid flywheel conversion, doesn’t have the same conversion or capabilities that a DMF does. You can run the risk of damage to the gearbox and crankshafts”.

Malcolm White, Product Director at FirstLine, which owns the Borg and Beck brand, believes there is space in the market for conversion kits and DMFs to co-exist with one another. Speaking about his firm’s range of conversion kits he says, “This has been made possible by the development of the long travel damper, which uses advanced vibration clutch damper technology to create a damper capable of 40 degrees of torsional movement and is therefore comparable with the movement that was typical from the equivalent DMF at the time of the vehicle’s original manufacture”.

Comline SMF Clutch Kit

Aisin Europe’s Pierre Grégoire said the firm has developed a twin disc technology specifically for its SMF conversion kits. He elaborates. “Aisin Europe has developed a conversion kit to a single mass flywheel (SMF). What sets our conversion kit apart from our competitors is the utilisation of our unique twin- disc technology, a quality alternative for the price conscious customers who do not want to compromise on reliability, driving comfort and fuel efficiency”.

MARKET GROWTH
So the question on a stock vendor’s mind is ‘will there be market growth for DMF’s and conversion kits in the near future?’ As anticipated, there have been mixed responses from clutch makers and suppliers primarily down to electric cars that won’t require conventional transmission.

That said, LuK’s Malcolm Short notes: “There will definitely be market growth for DMF’s especially with the P2 Hybrid Electric Motor that is going into production this year which features a DMF on it”. First Line’s Malcom White takes a different view, saying that there will be a decline in the DMF and clutch market with the uptake of plug- in hybrids that incorporate an automatic or CVT transmission. “The growth of the latest petrol/ plug-in hybrids will represent a reduction for Dual Mass Flywheel and in fact clutch” said White. “VW being the exception as they continue to offer the DSG alternative on vehicles like Golf where customers are still looking for the manual experience”.

Peter Horton, Marketing Executive at Motaquip concurs. “Electrical vehicles don’t use conventional drivetrains, however are intelligence suggests we’re still over two decades away from electric vehicles making a Aisin Europe clutch disc significant impact on the clutch aftermarket”.

SEEING DOUBLE
There are other opportunities as well. “Double clutch is now fitted to VW, Ford, Hyundai, Kia and Fiat”, LuK’s Malcolm Short tells us. “We’re doing double clutch training every week now to emphasise to garages that this is something they should be getting involved with”. FLG’s Malcolm White takes the same stance as Short, noting that DCT is the next largest development project underpinned by VMs worldwide. “The growth of Double (Dual) Clutch Transmission is predicted to be more than 11 percent per until 2020”, he said. “These clutch solutions offer increased fuel efficiencies as well as an improved driving experience for motorists”.

Whatever the future brings, you can be sure that the long running debate over DMFs and solid f lywheel conversions has a little while to go yet, as the number of vehicles fitted with these transmissions runs in the tens of millions.

CENTRIFUGAL PENDULUM ABSORBERS
Some may remember the introduction of centrifugal pendulum absorbers on the BMW 320 in 2010. Although still classed as a newer technology, LuK’s Malcolm Short told CAT that the firm has developed this technology further by incorporating it into its dual mass flywheels to dampen judder and improve the overall driving experience. He added. “We now have a pendulum absorber contained in our DMFs. This started out on BMW where we developed it for them but now it is being fitted to high end passenger cars like Audi and Mercedes which will get spread across the board as it becomes more popular”. When first introduced, LuK produced a one-off solid conversion for the BMW and fitted it to a car. Visitors to the clutch fim’s factory in Baden-Baden would then be invited to go for a spin in the converted car and in a regular one in order to feel the difference for themselves.

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

DOING BUSINESS ON THE EDGE OF EUROPE

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DOING BUSINESS ON THE EDGE OF EUROPE


BGA Automotive stand at show

Why go all the way to Turkey to go to a trade show? It was certainly a question on my mind as I hurtled for an hour along miles of bus-only expressways on one of Istanbul’s Metro buses, which are both terrifyingly fast and constantly carry a crush-load of passengers.

If you’ve been watching the news recently, you’ll know that the country has had a period of instability. Tensions between secularists who want the country to resemble Western Europe and conservative Islamists who do not, have been bubbling under the surface for years, leading to a number of chaotic and occasionally violent protests. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan politically survived an attempted coup d’etat last year, after which he purged the country of most of the judiciary and any journalists that dared to question his strategy were thrown in gaol – all of which puts the UK’s bickering about the snap election in the shade.

IMPORTANCE
However, the importance of the motor trade in Turkey cannot be understated. It is both a huge producer and a consumer of parts and complete vehicles, and so the organisers of Automechanika chose to franchise a show here.

The show has the look and feel of other non-Frankfurt editions with a mixture of big OE brands, smaller and more specialist suppliers plus a mix of diagnostic tool dealers, car wash suppliers and accessory brands – of which a disproportionate number seem to sell little but garish curtains for trucks, complete with tassels and pelmets. It takes little more than a cursory look through the programme guide to note that regional and Far-Eastern producers have the lion’s share of stands and space. Turkish companies were by far the largest exhibitors, in terms of number of exhibitors with the Chinese coming in second place. Between them, the two countries took up two-thirds of stands. So did other exhibitors get a look in?

The answer according to some of the other exhibitors was yes. “Everything here rolls on rubber” Paul Aylett, a Sales Manager at UK rotating electrics firm Prestolite told us, explaining why Turkey was important. His statement is correct, road freight makes up the vast bulk of the infrastructure in what is both a highly industrial and geographically vast country. A look at Istanbul, a city of some 15 million people, shows that there is seemingly no end to the number of light vehicles snarled up in constant horn-tooting traffic.

But why would any of Turkey’s distributors, all of which we noted were present at the show, choose to take on products from smaller UK brands? “It is about quality, but it is partly down to brand UK” said Chris Cameron from BGA Automotive. “The service people receive from British companies is noted for being consistent, 43,874 for international which is a strength”. This point is repeated when we visit Land Rover parts distributor AllMakes 4×4. Richard Howe, the MD is keen to tell us about the ‘added value’ that firms like his can provide. “It’s all about knowing the standards and service that you can expect from a firm like ours” he said.

That isn’t to say that doing business in Turkey is easy, regardless of whether you are importing or exporting. Wherever there is political instability, there will be a fluctuating currency and when considering the value of our own plummeting pound, it might be that the bulk purchase you shook on a few months previously, suddenly seems not such a great deal after all. A chat with the team on the Autopumps UK stand revealed that the prices of some castings from Turkey had increased by a third in recent months – and while the quality is good, there are other options.

Another point worth mentioning is the language. If you have ever been to trade shows further east, in Dubai for example, you’ll know that English is widely spoken and the de facto language of business. In Turkey, this doesn’t seem to be the case, so whether you are planning to exhibit, do business, or simply visit a trade show in the country it would be wise to bring someone who speaks the lingo with you.

CULTURAL BUSINESS
There are other cultural factors to be aware of when doing business in Turkey as well as Sezin Ata of FM Consulting told us, following a presentation at the show. “The decision process is long, but don’t push it” she warns, adding that people rarely like to say ‘no’… and you’ll find that out when they don’t say ‘yes’. She said that most business leaders in the country trust their individual contacts rather that written agreements – which is not unlike the UK aftermarket, but it does stress the importance of making the effort to get out here and shake the boss man’s hand, even if the deal value is low.

Sculpture in Tuap Expo Centre

Another point Ata made was the form of business meetings. “Very often there will be more than one person at the meeting – the boss and a senior engineer is typical. However, you might note that the engineer doesn’t say anything… Doesn’t he have anything to bring to the meeting?” she says.

“Actually, this is because businesses in Turkey often have a strong leader and submissive employees. They’ll give their opinion on the meeting when the boss asks them later” she explained.
All this sounds like it is a matcho culture, but Sezin believes that business in Turkey is on the whole ‘more feminine than masculine’ because of the numerous decisions based on human relationships, rather than simply the balance sheet.

It is ironic that as Britain has been seeking to leave the EU that Turkey has been attempting to join it – although the brakes seem to have been put on that process for now. As both countries are on the periphery of the Eurozone, it seems logical that both will want to do deals and ties with each other.

COUNTRY PAVILIONS
Noticeable by its absence was any form of UK Pavilion, although the UK businesses that were exhibiting were mostly grouped in the same hall.

Until recently, SMMT would arrange an area for members to exhibit at various international trade shows, under the banner ‘Business is GREAT Britain’.

The reasons for dropping this varied depending on who we spoke to, but what you couldn’t avoid noticing was ho ‘brand Germany’ brought it’s A-game.

The gleaming white pavilion with a well-designed and uniform theme was a focal point for visitors who made a bee-line for the Teutonic gear (although they always scattered every time I tried to point a camera
at them).

Another small but important point about the German stands was that the Board of Trade had been organised enough to produce some decent printed material in the form of a booklet that gave a short and serious explanation of each of the companies and how they can help. This document aped the style of all of the official Messe Frankfurt literature –
it was a top job.

Brexit means that British companies are going to have to seek business outside the EU and it is my opinion as Editor that the DTI should pay close attention to the Germans and offer something similar at cost price.

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UFI OPENS REDDITCH WAREHOUSE

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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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FUELLING SYSTEMS: WHAT’S REALLY THE PROBLEM?


In many cases, the injector and pump are not the cause but the victim of the piece.

The fuel system market is growing, with a recent report citing continued growth globally to 2022. Europe is the second largest market for fuel injectors, partially due to improving economic conditions and tougher emission standards, which is expected to grow the market further.

These emissions standards are at the forefront of manufacturers minds and therefore the onus is on their suppliers to develop products that keep vehicles running efficiently. This has put pressure on the fuel system, which is constantly developing to keep up with the demands of the modern world, and forcing the aftermarket to keep up with innovation, causing problems when it comes to identifying faulty units.

FINE TOLERANCES
Petrol and diesel injectors are intricate parts, with holes around 50 microns wide. To put this into perspective, the human hair is around 100 microns wide, which really highlights the tolerances they’re put under. Any form of dirt or grime pulled through the system from the tank or lines could cause issues. As fuel has to be injected at high pressure, a reduction of 8-10% efficiency could cause a misfire due to a leaner fuel mixture.

Yet a number of fuel system parts can be replaced when they are not the main cause of any issues. The injector is the point that can be observed when a problem is being diagnosed, meaning if there is a report of low fuel pressure, some garages can believe the injector is the issue, leading to a replacement that is not necessary, especially if the original issue remains.

Julian Goulding, UK Marketing Manager at Delphi explains: “The problem causing a loss of pressure could be further down the chain. For example, the pump may have an issue, may not be generating enough pressure, or in terms of diesel, it could be contamination in the rail. It is important that garages therefore carry out a full diagnostic of the system before replacing the injector, then that will resolve the problem. Where the problem becomes visible, may not be the root cause.

“Our distributors see a lot of parts that are returned due to the fact that they have failed early, and this is down to the fact that the original issue has not been rectified, damaging new parts much quicker. It may be a simple flush of the system that is required, but with a set of injectors costing £800 to £1,000 it can be costly to a garage if the part is misfitted or not required.

Garages must also play their part in ensuring injectors and pumps are not damaged or contaminated during fitting,” Goulding continues. “The areas where such components are stored and worked on need to be clean, torque settings must be adhered to and care must be taken, after all, especially in the case of diesel, the fuel system is a high-pressure system.”

Injector testing kit in action

Karl Horton, Warranty and Technical Manager at Carwood, believes there are other reasons as to why a number of units returned are not faulty:

“From injectors being returned to us, we have a three percent return rate on our remanufactured products,” he comments. “Of this, around 1.2% is accepted as we recycle a lot of products in our remanufacturing facility. The remainder is returned either due to contamination or incorrect fitting, or there is no fault found with the unit. What customers do with the products can depend on the level of training on the fitment of these items. We find that some garages are fitting injectors and pumps as a process of elimination, and we return these once we have tested them to see if they are working or not.

“One thing we have also found is that customers are not programming injectors properly. Automatically they then think that the problem is with the product rather than what they are doing. If you look back at vehicles from the 1980s compared with modern ones then there are big changes. A lot of injectors and pumps today are programmed and there are technicians that don’t carry these procedures out, expecting them to work rom the off. In many examples, that isn’t the case.”

UNDER PRESSURE
What then, could be the cause of fuel system issues? “The pump itself is a durable part within the fuel system and under good conditions ‘should’ last for the lifetime of the vehicle,” explains Chris Newey, Product Manager at Cambiare. “However, the fuel pump isn’t the only part of the fuel system that can experience problems which could result in a lack of fuel being delivered to the engine. Typical causes for low fuel pressure include a dirty fuel filter in which the fuel is being obstructed from flowing at the required pressure,incorrect tank venting in which the quantity of air coming into the fuel tank is insufficient to allow fuel to be withdrawn by the pump or restricted fuel lines in which the diameter of the fuel lines is insufficient to support the f low of fuel.”

“Damage during fitment is not an uncommon situation for fuel pumps and injectors. The most common issue we experience with ‘damage during fitment’ is broken fuel pipe connectors on the latest electric pumps. Whilst care should be taken when connecting and securing the pipes to ensure a tight seal, fitters should not over-tighten them as it can cause damage.

Bosch diesel injector

“Removal of old injectors can also be problematic. Over time, the O-Rings can harden and the cylinder head can corrode seizing the injector in place. Once removed, it important to ensure the fuel rail is free from any residual material to ensure the correct fitment of the new injectors and the new seals provided with the new injectors should always be used.”

HIGH LEVEL OF DETAIL
Ian Proctor, Diesel Product Manager at Bosch, adds: “We estimate that around 300,000 Bosch injectors are replaced in the UK every year and it is a part that is made up of very intricate pieces. Most injectors tend to see a lifespan of eight years, however the tolerances they are subjected to are great. Any contamination in the system can mean particles being pushed through the small injector holes which can cause wear, this can add to early failure of a component and is included in that high number of yearly injector replacements.

“When you take an injector apart, there are pieces inside that can easily become lost. For example, a garage may remove the injector and start to take it apart to clean it, before realising that the number of components within is greater than they realised. Without taking care, they may have already lost one of the tiny bearings that lie within, which will mean the entire unit will need to be replaced, or sent to a repair centre where an expert can examine it, at cost.”

DIRTY FUELLING
Which procedures should garages be undertaking to make sure of a correct diagnosis? Chris Newey of Cambiare adds: “Check the electrical circuits to ensure connections are in place, undamaged and in particular, free from rust.

“Fuel injected engines are extremely sensitive to the pressure of the fuel. Technicians should check fuel pressure using a pressure gauge to identify if the pressure is not running too high or too low. If the pressure is too high for the vehicle and the pressure regulator is faulty, the fuel consumption will increase causing a rough idle and surging. If the pressure is running too low for the vehicle, it can cause lean misfire, hesitation, rough idle and misfire when accelerating.”

A common theme is that of contamination in the system, which throws garages off the scent when diagnosing fuelling problems. Cleaners can therefore play their part in repair, sometimes before the idea of replacing the injector or pump should come into question.

Carl Ebanks, Brand Manager at Redex, comments: “Not so much contamination but dirt deposits from the fuel builds up on the fuel injectors, which alters the spray pattern and dosage so they become less efficient, making the car overall less efficient. Fuel System cleaners reduce emissions, clean up the dirt deposits in the fuel system, improve engine performance and save fuel. Cleaners stop dirt deposits building up on them, but do not prevent issues in the case of mechanical breakdown.”

As such an expensive and mechanical piece of the vehicle, diagnosing the problem in a fuel system is only part of the job and taking time to explore and rectify potential problems could save much future hassle. Parts are delicate and care is required, while attention is mandatory.

Posted in CAT Know-How, Factor & Supplier News, Garage News, NewsComments (0)

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