Tag Archive | "aftermarket"

SUPPLIER UPDATE: WINTER DEALS

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SUPPLIER UPDATE: WINTER DEALS


New supply deal for Pro-Align

A couple of important supply deals have been signed this month. First, around-the- wheel kit dealer, Pro-Align, has arranged with diagnostic tool maker Texa to supply the latter’s new aftermarket ADAS system. As the wheel alignment company has a contacts book full of past and existing customers in the crash repair and tyre fitting markets, it seems like an obvious add-on.

Pro-Align will also carry Texa’s range of diagnostic equipment.“Texa is pleased to welcome Pro-Align to its’ distribution network, where they are ideally placed to offer a complete service to OE and professional workshops facing the challenges of repairing newer vehicles fitted with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems,” commented Dave Gordon, Texa’s OE and National Accounts Sales Manager.

Meanwhile, Poland-based supplier of new and remanufactured rotating electrics, AS-PL Limited has struck a deal with the Nexus trading group. The brand’s products will be available through factors that buy with the group, initially through Nexus Automotive’s Central Europe representative. Tomasz Kaszubowski VP of AS-PL said: “When joining the Nexus Automotive Central Europe group, we gain not only the ability to share knowledge and mutual experience. At the same time, we can carry out actions that will improve our competitiveness and contribute to satisfying our customers’ needs.”

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AIMING FOR PERFECTION

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AIMING FOR PERFECTION


PROMOTION ARTICLE ON BEHALF OF AISIN GROUP

Aisin braking portfolio

The Aisin group is a diversified global conglomerate with special expertise in materials processing, precision engineering and manufacturing technologies. While the principal activity is the design and manufacture of automotive parts and systems, the group also produces household appliances such as fuel cells and other products related to the energy, lifestyle and wellness sectors.

Guided by the founder’s commitment to “quality first”, Aisin has developed a strong position as a global supplier of premium automotive parts and systems to vehicle manufacturers. In addition to Toyota, which has taken a 24% equity in the company, Aisin is a major supplier to the Volkswagen Group, BMW, Volvo, General Motors, PSA Group, Renault-Nissan, Mitsubishi, Honda, Suzuki and Changan Group.

Aisin Seiki group
Japan-based Aisin has been processing materials and manufacturing premium precision products for more than 70 years. Founded as an aircraft parts manufacturer, the company has now developed into a Fortune Global 500 company with more than 190 subsidiaries and affiliates around the world. The Aisin group is a strong top-10 supplier in the automotive OE and aftermarket industries, and recorded net sales of over 29 billion Euro in the 2016 financial year.

Drive, turn, stop…

The Aisin automotive product range is comprehensive, covering all the principal vehicle functions – driving, turning and braking – and includes drivetrain, clutch, brake, chassis, engine and cooling systems, in addition to vehicle body parts.

The group strives to anticipate customer needs and has invested heavily in the last few years to meet the changing requirements of the automobile industry. Using its expertise in diverse metals and processing technologies, Aisin is now producing lighter vehicle parts – including cast parts for the engine and related areas – helping car manufacturers meet lower fuel consumption and emission standards.

Strong R&D resources

For these new trends, Aisin is able to draw on its impressive worldwide research and development assets. Back in 1970 it was one of the first auto parts manufacturers to construct its own vehicle proving ground equipped with test tracks. Aisin now has three proving grounds worldwide with a variety of track surfaces.

In parallel, state-of-the-art indoor testing facilities enable Aisin to evaluate a wide range of vehicle performance areas including electronic devices, fuel economy exhaust emissions, high-temperature environments and vehicle stability control systems.

Going forward, Aisin aims to continue working with its subsidiaries and customers to anticipate future requirements and fulfil its mission to contribute to the creation of a better auto society and higher standard of living.

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PHOENIX COMPANIES RISING FROM THE ASHES

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PHOENIX COMPANIES RISING FROM THE ASHES


It’s a sad fact of life that businesses can and do fail and the fallout can impact upon many – owners, shareholders, employees, customers and suppliers alike. Often there is nothing underhand about the failure – the company is wounded fatally by a lost contract, a massive hike in rent or rates, or has been unable to adapt to changing market conditions.

Occasionally, however, firms are set up to fail through the deliberate actions of their management with a view to defrauding creditors. In certain situations, directors of the failed company turn to what is known as a ‘phoenix’ company.

PHOENIX RISING
‘Phoenixing’, or ‘phoenixism’, are terms that describe the practice of carrying on the same business or trading successively through a series of companies which in turn becomes insolvent – the idea being that a new business rises from the ashes of an old one, like the Phoenix bird of Greek myth, hence the term. Each time this happens, the business of the insolvent company (but not its’ debts), is transferred to a new, but similar, phoenix company, usually through the use of a pre-pack administration. A pre-pack administration involves the business of the liquidated company being sold as a ‘going concern’, (i.e. as an operating business) through a process orchestrated by an appointed insolvency practitioner. The insolvent company then ceases to trade and might enter into formal insolvency proceedings or be dissolved.

Phoenixing often harbours negative connotations, mainly because of the actions of directors who force their companies into insolvency to then purchase back company assets through the new company, leaving behind any liabilities in the insolvent company. The process often involves financial loss being suffered by the creditors of the failed company – a practice that can both leave a nasty taste in the mouth and give phoenix companies a rather bad reputation.

There is no doubt that in rare circumstances, the directors of a company do set out to commit insolvency fraud and so will deliberately reform a business using a phoenix company to avoid paying creditors. They will ensure that the phoenix company is set up so that it appears slightly different from the insolvent company. The business will continue to trade and operate and the creditors of the insolvent company will not usually recover their debts as they remain with the insolvent company – a separate legal entity – and will not be transferred over to the newly formed company. The bad news for creditors and suppliers is that they will have no contractual claim against the new company for debts incurred by the old, defunct, company.

THE LAW SAYS
The governing law of England and Wales allows shareholders, directors and employees of insolvent companies to set up new companies to carry on a similar business, so long as the individuals involved aren’t personally bankrupt or disqualified from acting in the management of a limited company, and the trading name of the new company is not the same or similar to that of the insolvent company. Setting up as a new entity is legal if the process has been managed properly. Entrenched company law principles mean that a limited liability company is a legal entity separate from that of its shareholders and directors. Except in very limited circumstances, the responsibility for debts incurred remain that of the company, subject to the actions of the company directors.

One circumstance where a director can be made personally liable, jointly and severally with the company, for all the relevant debts of the new company, is where they contravene the Insolvency Act 1986 by acting as a director of a company with a prohibited name (i.e. a name which is similar to suggest an association with the previous company’s name). Further, the director will also be liable to a fine or potential imprisonment.

SEEKING SOLACE
So, what can you do if you suspect some sort of insolvency fraud being undertaken by a company that you are dealing with? What happens where you find yourself in the situation where you have supplied a company and your invoice has not been paid? What should you if do you’re also unable to reach anyone at the company to speak to about the money that you are owed?

The company at this point may or may not be insolvent. If the company in question is insolvent, the appointed insolvency practitioner’s function is to investigate the practices of the company and distribute any assets found to the creditors of the business. Predominantly, the underlying assets of the insolvent company are required to be sold at market value and not (deliberately) at an undervalue. You, as a creditor of this business, should have an interest in such investigations and you should speak to and assist the insolvency practitioner where possible.

Company directors owe numerous duties to their company and the key duties are codified in the Companies Act 2006. These include promoting the success of the company, exercising independent judgement, exercising reasonable care, skill and judgement, and avoiding conflicts of interests. Where a company is threatened with or starts to undergo insolvency proceedings, directors not only owe duties to the company, but also to the creditors of the company and a number of provisions of the Insolvency Act 1986 apply in this case.

STRICT RULES
There are strict regulations placed on the directors of an insolvent company and any appointed insolvency practitioner regarding the use of a phoenix company to carry on the business of an insolvent company. The intention of the regulations is to protect the interests of unsecured creditors and to prevent company directors from escaping their obligations. It is a criminal offence under the Insolvency Act to knowingly carry on business with an intention to defraud creditors.

If this is proven, an insolvency practitioner may make the decision that the director is liable to make a contribution to the company’s assets on winding up. Remember, it is legal for a phoenix company to be formed from the insolvency of a prior company. However, any director that is subject to a disqualification order or a bankruptcy order cannot act as a director of the newly formed company. You may suspect that a director of a company that you are dealing with may be acting in breach of a disqualification or bankruptcy order and if this is the case, you should also report this to the Insolvency Service.

DEAL WITH IT
Information is available online, free, at Companies House to any member of the public who wishes to see who is registered as a director of a company that they are dealing with. The name of the company (this may be different from the name with what the company trades as) or the company number will be required to use the Companies House search function.

Despite the losses that can be experienced by a creditor because of the use of a phoenix company that may have been subject to insolvency fraud, the financial failure of a majority of UK companies is not usually as a result of wrong doing nor the misconduct of company directors. Companies can be dissolved or face financial difficulties for a variety of reasons.

One protective solution, obvious as it sounds, is to conduct preliminary investigations on new customers before entering into a trade agreements or offering trade credit. As noted above, check the publicly available register at Companies House for information on company directors and their companies, seek trade references, and also carry out credit checks. Forewarned is forearmed.

It may be worth checking to see whether your supplier contracts have, or possibly should have, clauses which aim to protect your legal ownership of the supplied goods until payment has been made by a customer. Some supplier contracts may include what are known as retention of title clauses which will state that the goods delivered by a supplier remain their property until payment by the customer has been made. Legal advice should be sought as ‘retention of title’ clauses require careful thought and drafting to ensure that they are effective, an event of insolvency should be properly provided for in such terms and conditions in order for a supplier to limit exposure to the risk of non-payment.

WHAT TO BE AWARE OF
Directors who don’t conduct business in line with their legal obligations face potential disqualification from acting as a company director. The Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 prohibits directors whose conduct led to the insolvency of a company from taking on similar roles elsewhere for a prescribed length of time. If, as a creditor, you feel or suspect that a director of the company you are dealing with is conducting their business in an unfit manner, you can report them either to the Insolvency Service, Companies House or the Serious Fraud Office.

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MARATHON ACQUIRES NEW WAREHOUSES

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MARATHON ACQUIRES NEW WAREHOUSES


Independent wholesaler Marathon Distribution has acquired two warehouses bringing its’ branch network to 14 sites. The move comes as part of a business strategy to improve its’ Northern logistic operations.

The Warrington distribution centre has recently opened its’ doors to trade customers.

Meanwhile, construction work on the new Gateshead site is still underway and should be functional by February next year.

The opening of these centres has also sparked a recruitment drive, creating a number of job opportunities and an internal shake-up, as Adrian McComas, Sales and Marketing Manager at Marathon Distribution, elaborates: “Several colleagues from our Castleford and Redditch depots will be transferring over to the new Warrington site.” He continued, “Regional Director Lee Pearsall has been appointed to manage operations for this part of the country.”

More branches are in the pipeline. McComas concluded: “We will also be looking to expand into Scotland in 2018 to enable us to service our Scottish customers more efficiently. We’ve already got substantial business in the North East and West of England, so it will make it easier to service those areas and gives us an opportunity to develop the business more, with more frequent opportunities for our stockists.” We look forward to reporting on these new sites when they go live next year.

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MAJOR PLAYERS IN THE MINI MARKET

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MAJOR PLAYERS IN THE MINI MARKET


Simon Jackson and Justin Jeffery explain why stock holding is key to the running of Mini Spares.

We’re waiting at Mini spares, which differs from the usual display of polish, wheel trims and buckets that usually surround a factors trade counter. Instead, it looks more like a mock-shop showroom as it has an eclectic range of classic Minis on display. Models to note include a 1963 Morris Traveller, a red 1971 Cooper S and a Monte Carlo Mini on display, among others.

While we could stop and stare at these vehicles all day, we had to remind ourselves that the team were busy and we needed to get on with business. With that said, Co-Director Justin Jeffery and General Manager Simon Jackson greeted us, of whom are both old hands in the industry; beginning their careers at the firm as teenagers. Both of them have seen their fair share of changes to the company and market: “When we started at this premises over two decades ago, you could ring up a company and have 10 CV joints sent out to you, and if you ran out, you could easily order another 10.” said Jackson, “For us to do that now, it’s near enough impossible to get a European manufacturer to even begin to talk to us. That’s how everything has changed.”

STOCK HOLDING
To overcome this obstacle, the team relocated from their previous site in Friern Barnet to a purpose-built warehouse that has grown exponentially since first opening. Elaborating on Jackson’s earlier sentiment, Jeffery said, “This was one of the main reasons for moving here. We realised early on that to be in control of your own stock is very important, and to do that, you have to be able to make it yourself.” He continued, “All the grilles, bumpers and corner bars are all manufactured for us exclusively for us. That’s what stands us apart from most competitors where many of them are resellers of product, we actually go out and get it manufactured, otherwise, these cars will go off the road.”

To stock the components, the team has continued expanding the warehouse, with extra storage space and several mezzanine floors. As it currently stands, the space totals 37,000 sq ft employing 55 staff across the factory floor, sales and marketing departments.

In order to maintain its 9500 part numbers and ensure they’re dispatched on time, the team follow a specific process which has boded well for business, as Jeffery elaborates; “We can normally get up to 300 orders on a Monday, anything from small boxes to large packages that have to be shipped internationally. The process we follow is, ‘picking, checking, packing,’ where every order is checked before it gets dispatched, then the guys pack and send it out.”

Minis in the customer area

Although a bespoke stock management system is in place, the Mini Spares team have had to adjust their stock holdings accordingly. Jeffery elaborated, “Typically, brake and suspension products are some items that used to be bought together and would all be in one place within the warehouse, however, our computer system shows us the quickest way to go around and pick wares in the building. We’ve gone away from that, meaning, staff that have been with us for a long time have had to adapt.” He adds that a fair amount of human intervention is needed to get stock holding correct, even though the system is in place.

Jackson agrees with Jeffery’s statement and expands, “Again, how we have to buy things has changed. It’s not feasible to keep certain products together anymore because of the stock holding,” he added, “Where we used to keep 100 items for a certain product line, we now have to hold a 1,000 of them.” To resolve this issue, the team have created a Bulk Storage area, that replenishes shelves as and when required.

PRODUCTS AND EXPORT
Another essential part of the business is sourcing gearboxes and cylinder heads to be sent off for refurbishment. This has led to some new additions that the duo were keen to show us, “Our new alloy five-point cylinder head is a fairly new project, originally made in cast iron”, notes Jeffery, “We have gone out to change, design and improve this product. Filters are another key addition. Everyone used to buy Unipart filters, but Unipart said ‘we’re not doing them anymore’. Luckily for us, we found the original manufacturer and were able to order enough quantity to get them interested in making them again.”

The firm hassate two satellite branches in Birmingham and York, both supplied from the Potters Bar HQ. “It’s the later stuff that’s dropping off the production lines. People are not interested”, said Jackson. “Volumes are too small [for the main suppliers to be interested in] and that’s what we’re now concentrating on.” He concluded.

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200K INVESTMENT AT REVCOAT

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200K INVESTMENT AT REVCOAT


Calcination Oven

Catalytic converter brand Revcoat Technologies has made a major investment in new processes and machinery. New equipment includes a calcination oven, automatic case seam welder and several types of automatic coating machines.

The firm produces various types of diesel particulate filters in addition to the converters for petrol engines and has spent over £200k on the new equipment.

James Slade, Director at the firm said: “Over the past 12 months we have researched and developed catalyst wash-coats using high oxygen storage chemicals and Nano-technology precious metal solutions to meet the requirements of today’s emission standards.”

“Combined with our specifically designed coating and canning technology we can produce emission catalysts tailored to any requirement. Our catalytic solutions and our proprietary catalyst coating technology are individually tailored to take advantage of the latest technology in raw materials.”

“Our investment in this technology for the development of automotive emission catalysts gives us the ability to offer solutions for present and future requirements of environmental legislation.” Revcoat Technologies is owned by by European Exhaust & Catalyst Ltd.

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ASA RESPONSE COULD IMPACT USED CAR DEALERS

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ASA RESPONSE COULD IMPACT USED CAR DEALERS


Glyn Hopkin dealership

In a move that could have far-reaching consequences on the used car industry, the Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint against two lineage ads for car dealer Glyn Hopkin. The adverts related to two three-year old Alfa Romeo vehicles, and the complaint was that the vehicles were not advertised as being ‘ex-fleet’.

The vehicles in question had been registered directly to Fiat- Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). In response, the dealer said that the vehicles were not for sale directly from the website and that would-be purchasers would be able to see all the documents related to any particular car.

Glyn Hopkin stated that they bought the advertised vehicles directly from FCA and that an ex-fleet did not suggest that it had multiple drivers. Furthermore, the actual previous usage, irrespective of the registered keeper, could not be categorically defined on a used car and they stated that such information had not been given to them by FCA.

SMMT was asked for its input. It said that it believed that the Office of Fair Trading’s (OFT) ‘Guidance for second hand car dealers’ only applied to ex-fleet vehicles that might have had multiple users, and that by describing a vehicle as ex-fleet did not necessarily mean that it had been used by more than one driver.

SMMT also pointed out that the new car market had changed radically in the UK, through the growth in popularity of PCP and lease schemes, where most of the vehicles were owned by fleet management/vehicle leasing companies.

The ASA accepted these points, but still ruled that the advert broke guidelines and that it, and all others like it, must state that if a vehicle had been part of a fleet if had been used for business purposes, even if they had been in the hands of a single user from new, as had been the case with both of the cars in question.

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RUBBER PLANT COMES BOUNCING BACK

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RUBBER PLANT COMES BOUNCING BACK


Fabrication line in new plant

If you think of the Dunlop brand, you’ll probably come up with the eponymous Fort Dunlop, the giant building sat next to the M6 which I remember in my youth as being vast, foreboding and, well, old.

However, this building was a spring chicken compared with Dunlop Suspensions’ former building in Coventry’s Holbrook Lane. The WW1-era factory was sprawling, dark and low. It was also riddled with holes – some apparently from stray bullets sustained in the dog-fights over the city in the second war.

MODERN
While the historic value was not in doubt, it didn’t really work as an avatar for a modern, high- tech business. “People visiting the site would think ‘failed 1960s UK manufacturer’ and once you’ve formed that view it is very hard to dispel it” said Ian Hamilton, MD of the company. A move was on the cards, and the view of the management was if they were going to be in the new site for as long as there were on the old, it made sense to build something bespoke. “We did as much as we could, because we were only going to do this once” explained Hamilton.

As such, plans were drawn up for a brand-new site at the Prologis Park industrial area. The build was projected to cost in the region of £5m once the plant was taken into account, and the new building would feature the latest environmental systems, such as integration of thermal processes and an advanced soak away under the car park. It was going to be the first of its type in the area, however, this came with its own problems.

EXPANSION ISSUES
“One of the problems with being ‘first through the door’ is it is you that tends to get shot” explained Hamilton. “For a start, we were stuck between two county councils, with most of the building being in one, and the car park in another”. Interestingly, the footprint of the new build is much smaller than the old, with 60,000 sq ft as opposed to nearly three times than at the old place. “We didn’t use much of it really” said Hamilton. “Although every nook and cranny was stuffed with things, because when you have the space, people will fill it up. I’ve learnt that in any future business dealings to buy the smallest space needed. It saves so much money, because if you haven’t got anywhere to put it then you don’t buy it!” he added.

It isn’t only the building that has enjoyed a reboot. Working practices and machinery have modernised to keep up with the times. Processes that once took thirty burly men to complete can now be done by machinery, allowing employees to concentrate on lighter and more technical work. On our visit, the firm was busy producing a batch of air suspension for a bus manufacturer on one line, and a number of aftermarket products for Range Rovers on another. It is also worth pointing out that there is real manufacturing going on here, with CNC machines buzzing and autoclaves heating. It is not simply an assembly and distribution centre.

The lean systems in place also allow for small batch sizes. “The rivals are on the volume trail” asserts Hamilton, adding that the items produced are not exactly bespoke, but ‘tailor made’, which allows the firm a USP. “We assume our competitors consider volumes of less than 100,000 not to be worth the engineering time” he said, adding that CEO Chris Davis could identify ways of producing strong aftermarket references.

Dunlop Suspensions (officially known as Dunlop Systems and Components Ltd) had an interesting time in the last century as it was one of the pioneers of the disc brake and claims to have invented the ceramic disc. The company worked on many automotive projects, including the four wheel drive Jensen Interceptor FF. However, it was the rubber cone suspension on the original Mini, which had been designed by Alex Moulton and was produced by Dunlop Suspensions that captured the public’s imagination. The firm produced parts for the Hydrolastic and Hydragas systems that were standards on BMC cars of the era, but a disastrous merger with Pirelli indirectly lead to the whole Dunlop group of companies being sold to BTR in the 1980s. BTR gradually split them up and sold them off, with the Systems and Components division transferring to Trelleborg AB at the end of the 1990s. However, a management buyout in 2007 allowed the company to modernise, culminating in the building we are looking at today finally being completed in 2014.

As the old proverb goes, it is an interesting time to be a manufacturer in the UK. The effects of currency fluctuations and the threat (or opportunity if you like) of leaving the single market is hanging over those in the supply chain. Nonetheless, this company has shown that it can adapt to the pace of change – and long may it continue to do so.

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HELLA TECH WORLD – THE EASY ACCESS SUPPORT SITE

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HELLA TECH WORLD – THE EASY ACCESS SUPPORT SITE


PROMOTION ARTICLE ON BEHALF OF HELLA

The website, is free of charge to users, available round the clock and kept up-to-date, giving workshops a genuine advantage, allowing them to develop a greater level of technical competence, which will contribute to the overall success of their business. HELLA, one of the world’s leading original equipment (OE) component and system suppliers, created the easily accessible portal to provide technicians with complete online support, including the latest range extensions, which are updated monthly, technical product information and HELLA Online Training – in short – to assist workshops to future proof their businesses.

TECH WORLD also links to the company’s online catalogues enabling them to browse all that HELLA, Behr Hella Service and Hella Gutmann Solutions has to offer. In addition, briefing notes are available, which give detailed information on product features and specifications, as well as links to supporting Apps, such as the ELIVER light comparison App and Behr Hella Services Compressor App.

Technicians can also access a range of practical technical training modules for lighting, electric and electronics and thermal management, and take advantage of the detailed technical information, with access to a know-how tool in which HELLA reveals how components work.

With this insight, they are able to more easily identify the cause of a fault and through this technical background knowledge how to rectify it. What’s more, technicians have the option to view technical clips and diagnostic tips to assist with the repairing process. To optimise the whole repair process, HELLA has continued to invest to provide excellent product availability and depth of range to help technicians complete their work to the highest possible standard. HELLA’s commitment to make the workshops day-to-day business life easier, faster and ready to face the future, demonstrates that the company really is the ‘workshop’s friend.’

To experience HELLA TECH WORLD please visit – www.hella.com/techworld. For more information about the OE quality products available from HELLA, please call customer services on: 01295 662400 or email hella.sales@hella.com

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NEW DIVISION AND DATA FIRM FOR SCHAEFFLER

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NEW DIVISION AND DATA FIRM FOR SCHAEFFLER


Changes at Schaeffler for the New Year

The Schaeffler group is expanding its company divisions with the announcement of its aftermarket subsidiary that will come into effect on January 1st.

The clutch maker will now consist of three separate divisions – Automotive OEM, Industrial and the newly appointed autonomous Automotive Aftermarket business, where all sites operating under this brand will report directly to the company’s head office in Langen, Germany. The full upgrade to division status has also prompted a shake-up in the senior management team appointing Michael Söding to the Board of Managing Directors of whom has been President of the AAM business since it was established in 2009.

“This upgrade to division status within the Schaeffler Group allows AAM to push forward necessary improvements and changes faster and more effectively – for the benefits of our customers”, said Jeff Earl, UK Marketing Manager at Schaeffler, “The UK AAM organisation will also reap the benefits from this stronger position within the group. We will continue to deliver the market leading range of LuK, INA, FAG and Ruville repair solutions, along with the unmatched levels of service that customers have come to expect.”

To further strengthen its position, the group has also acquired Autinity Systems GmbH for an undisclosed sum. Speaking of its latest purchase, Earl said, “autinity systems GmbH specialises in the digital collection evaluation and analysis of machine data in real time, and its acquisition allows Schaeffler to strengthen its data capture and status monitoring capability as key elements in the computer assisted production of its industrial and automotive components,” he concluded. “The acquisition is part of the M&A adopted by the Schaeffler Group, supporting the global concept of “Mobility for tomorrow” and providing additional technological capabilities to assist in the ongoing pursuit of its digital agenda.”

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