Tag Archive | "Components"

FERDINAND BILSTEIN TO OPEN NEW SITE

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FERDINAND BILSTEIN TO OPEN NEW SITE


New site will go live in January

Component supplier Ferdinand Bilstein has confirmed that warehouses in both Kent and Yorkshire will close as the firm relocates logistics to a new purpose built facility at the Markham Vale industrial complex. In responses to questions asked by CAT, the company confirmed that the closures ‘will unfortunately lead to redundancies’. However, 140 jobs will be created at the new site (see panel for the firm’s complete response).

The switch-on date for the highly automated facility is January 2018, with full operation of both Febi and Blue Print brands expected by the last quarter of the year. Head Office functions such as HR, finance and purchasing will remain in Kent.

A facility owned by Bilstein Group in Ennepetal, Germany, features a large ‘dark warehouse’ automated stock and picking system installed by Witron Integrated Logistics. A similar system is being installed at the new site.

Ferdinand Bilstein UK changed its name from Automotive Distributors Ltd (ADL) in early 2015, following the acquisition of ADL by Ferdinand Bilstein GmbH+Co (now known as Bilstein Group) in 2011.

Q & A: FERDINAND BILSTEIN

1) What date is the Markham Vale set to go live/open its doors for service?

Markham Vale will ‘go-live’ and be operational from January 2018. Blue Print stock will move in first, followed by Febi a few months later. However, full operation of both brands at the site will be from Q3/Q4 of 2018.

2) Have the previous Kent and Yorkshire operations already closed down? When did/will they roll down the shutters for good?

No, the offices in Kent will remain open, and so functions such as HR, Finance, Product Management, Purchasing, IT and Marketing will continue to run on this site. However, the warehouses in Kent will close during the first quarter of 2018. The Yorkshire operations will close during the later months of 2018.

3) What prompted the move to the Derbyshire business park?

Ferdinand Bilstein UK Ltd wanted to improve its efficiency and logistics capabilities in order to improve customer service. The site in Derbyshire proved a fantastic opportunity, with its central location offering excellent transport links just off junction 29a of the M1, as well as close proximity to customers.

4) Have or will there be any redundancies from the transition over to the new premises? If so, how many are expected?

The warehouses at the Kent site will close, and this will unfortunately lead to redundancies. However, we are working closely with training organisations, recruitment agencies and other local businesses to help staff find new positions in the local area. Staff in both Kent and Yorkshire have been offered the chance to relocate.

5) For those who have been kept on, will they maintain their original roles or take on a different one within the company?

Staff who have chosen to make the move to Markham Vale will be able to maintain their original roles and responsibilities from the new site, and some will be offered the chance to develop further, to fill the new requirements at the site with the installation of new technology and systems. Training will be offered to staff who wish to learn these new skills. Staff who are remaining in Kent will retain their current roles.

6) What does the Markham Vale site comprise of?

Markham Vale is to become our main distribution centre. With this in mind, the 14.4 acres site is largely taken up by a 215,000 square foot, state of the art warehouse, complete with manual racking and semi-automated machinery – the Order Picking system. There are offices upstairs, meeting rooms and a canteen.

There is a reception area to greet visitors to the site. There is also a garden space outside of reception to provide a break from the office or warehouse during lunch. And a large carpark. A lot of time and effort was put into the planning stages to ensure the site had the best facilities for our staff.

7) There are currently up to 140 jobs at the Markham Vale site. When are you expecting to get all these positions filled and the new employees into the warehouse?

A recruitment open day was held on 14th October attended by 600 people to let people see the new building/site and what we have to offer them. The warehouse roles will be filled from October until the beginning of next year, allowing time for training before the site is operational in January. Once the site is fully operational, more job opportunities are likely to become available in the offices as well as the warehouse, as the site grows.

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HANDLING DIESEL COMPONENTS

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HANDLING DIESEL COMPONENTS


Injectors and related components need special care, but do garages appreciate this?

Diesel system components are a paradox. On one hand they survive for years if not decades in a harsh, high temperature and even higher pressure environment of an engine. On the other hand, when the parts are out of their clean, contamination-free safe zone the are immensely fragile and even the slightest knock or the tiniest contamination particle can render them useless.

CR Injector

It is interesting to note that the component manufacturers take getting injectors through the factory, to the garage and into the engine, extremely seriously. “Delphi’s common rail injectors are manufactured and packed in conditions of utmost cleanliness in our OE facilities. All outlets are fitted with protective caps and plugs and the injectors are sealed into VCI (Vapour Corrosion Inhibitor) bags. The bagged injectors are then packed into strong, durable cardboard cartons for delivery to distributors and end users” explains Gail Flint, UK Category Manager, Fuel Injection Systems, Delphi Product and Service Solutions. She adds that on fitting, garages are encouraged to vacuum (as opposed to blowing compressed air across the component) when fitting and that the old core should be returned packaged in the same way complete with end caps when being returned to the factor.

DEBATE
However, a thorny debate arises when it comes to remanufacturing that core. Arguments over what is a repair and what constitutes being a remanufactured item are as old as the industry, but in the days of high-tech electronics and ultra-sensitive precision parts the topic has never been more pertinent. Part of the problem, according to various remanufacturers is a lack of universal build specs from OEMs. Chris Paxman, MD of TT Automotive said: “There always has been companies who want to do the job properly, and others who want to get it working to a fashion and make a quick buck”. He adds that where there is official field repair information available from the OEM ‘most reputable diesel repair shops will be using this to remanufacture the unit’.

Graeme Stock, MD of Hirsche Automotive said a key difference between repairers and reconditioners is the way they’s approach each unit. “Repairers would solve the immediate fault, and if there were 10 racks the same, perhaps with different faults, they’d just repair that one challenge. What we do in R and D is we solve the issue across the board. Every time we produce it, we will strip the whole thing down and build it back up. You have to change the mentality, if you don’t do that, you aren’t a reconditioner, you are a repairer”.

PROGRAMME
The OEMs do have various diesel programmes, but some in the industry want this expanded and formalised. The one fundamental change [that we’d like to see] would be that the OEMs recognise the value of an approved diesel centre network that they promote the benefits of using the same, that they introduce new programmes quicker through this network and making sure that the component parts are competitively priced” said Ian Neill, Director, Diesel Systems at Carwood. “This would ensure that the approved networks who have made very significant investments in equipment and training would capture a major share of the available market before the non – genuine repairers got a foothold”. He adds that in his opinion the reason that this is not happening as a given is because it is in conflict with the OEMs own reman programmes.

Despite the bad headlines, there are as many diesel vehicles on the road as ever and while the parts are delicate and difficult to transport until fitted, there is no denying that a modern workshop cannot simply refuse to take diesel work on.

NO SHORTCUT FOR DIESEL PARTS

An important point to understand about diesel components is that there is no such thing as a cheap price- fighting brand on new components. On glow plugs, for example, there are only half a dozen companies that produce them, and all have various OE contracts. The reason for this, as outlined in the main text, is that all diesel components are highly precision engineered parts and even the slightest error in the length of a glow plug, for example, could result in the crown touching the piston which would result in significant engine damage. A year ago CAT visited the Hidria glow plug factory in Slovenia, and were surprised how few people were involved in the physical production, as the vast majority of operations are automated and in clean room conditions. As with other diesel system components, each product is coded for traceability and are subject to many tests before leaving the building, including a fast heat change test, plunging the plugs from a hot ambient temperature to -40° in a flash.

Hidria

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SUPPLYING CLASSIC CARS ONE PART AT A TIME


Howard Robinson takes us around Collectors Car parts in Egham

howard-robinson

Owner Howard Robinson

Collectors Car Parts first opened its doors to the public in 1982 and since then it has gone on to become a treasure trove of long- obsolete components, stocking nearly every part imaginable for classic cars.

Howard Robinson has been the owner of the operation since day one, and little did he know that his hobby as a young man would turn into a large business venture supplying components to customers across the UK and overseas. Robinson previously owned two factors in the Heathrow area, but due to the large quantity of stock in his possession and some customer parking issues, he relocated his business to a large warehouse space in the Thorpe Industrial Estate, Egham two years prior. We paid a visit to the parts enthusiast to find out how business has taken off since the move.

While entering, we were taken back by the size of the facility with one third of the space catering to Robinson’s motor factor and manufacturing business and the other
section home to a large hall filled with parts, or at least with boxes that are filled with parts. “I moved here in September 2014 but we couldn’t move into the main hall because the builders were piling the floors”, said Robinson, “The estate was built on infill so it was sinking and we couldn’t do anything for six months”. However, this didn’t leave a chink in his armour as Robinson built his own mezzanine floor to continue business and line his wares on the shelves.

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Shelves filled with classic spares

CUSTOMER BASE
Although there’s still some unpacking to do, this hasn’t stopped the business from running with customers dropping in and motor factors on call every day enquiring about his classic spares. “I have customers calling me from all over the world but one of the big companies on my books is a factor chain who call virtually everyday for parts”, said Robinson: “Monday is always my busiest day. The phones just go absolutely ballistic with calls I can’t cope with so many coming in”. For his UK base, the one-man- band uses APC to deliver parts around the country while using a local international freight company to distribute products overseas.

Robinson has built up a strong customer base over his last 34 years in the trade and accumulated most classic car components between the 1920’s and 1980’s. If this space wasn’t enough, he also owns a small farm containing hundreds of sets of pistons up to 1980 just a stone’s throw away from the warehouse. Robinson elaborated: “I’ve probably got the best comprehensive collection of parts books anywhere in the UK” he said. “It took many years to accumulate so many books and change part numbers and so forth. I do all British car parts from the 1920’s right up to the 1980’s or anything that has been made in the UK I’m sure to have it somewhere”. From braking and water pumps to exhaust silencers and trims, Robinson has parts that cater towards ‘the bottom end of the market’ including Ford, Vauxhall, BMC and many more.

PRICING
With so many parts at his disposal, logging them onto a computer management system
would prove a daunting task, so we were curious to know how Robinson keeps track of sales and stock. “Although I have a computer myself, I’ve been bought up with the old system
of card indexes, books, changing part numbers and I think it’s nearly as quick as doing this old stuff rather than doing it on a computer”, he said. “If it was all on a computer, I’d be here for the next 100 years because I have so much stock”. His parts catalogue collection is quite the spectacle with one room serving as a miniature library with shelves filled with catalogues and price lists from manufacturers and suppliers dating back almost
100 years.

Robinson’s combined industry knowledge along with his most up-to-date price list allows him to price his wares competitively for dealers to buy and sell on to consumers. He elaborated: “I came into this business because there are people in this business that charge way too much. If I can sell something for half their price I will undercut them so they don’t get away with charging ridiculous sums”.

FUTURE PLANS
Robinson has some exciting challenges ahead, which includes going into new territory specialising in motorcycle parts and hosting his own events for the local motorcycle clubs over weekends in the main hall. “I’m going to have a small shop to cater for motorcycles on the weekend, selling motorcycle silencers, trims and all sorts of things”. He will also continue running his auction in the main hall on Saturday afternoons selling anything from ‘greasy gearboxes’ to old ‘back engines and rusty parts’. “I’m always on the lookout for old spares dating backing as far as I can go. I’ll sell anything, there’s no air and greases in my auctions it’s as it comes”.

Robinson is giving himself another year to finish setting up and getting his motorcycle business off the ground, and has cordially invited us back next year to see everything in action. “The future is doing these motorcycles. If I can make this successful I will be doing the same thing opening places across the country. It’s going to be quite ataskandaneweraforamotor factor which is what I am”, he concluded.

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REMANUFACTURER CALLS FOR CLEAR BUILD SPECS

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REMANUFACTURER CALLS FOR CLEAR BUILD SPECS


Poor quality reman still available say FDS

Poor quality reman still available say FDS

A remanufacturer has hit out over a lack of defined specs from OEs, resulting in mixed quality between reman suppliers.

“The root cause of the problem is the lack of universal build specifications from the OE manufacturers,” said Steve Smith, Managing Director of remanufacturer Feather Diesel Services (FDS). “They don’t define what should be done when their products are remanufactured, and the market can fall into the trap of assuming it’s all the same.

“It’s just easier for people to look at a price, rather than the processes involved in top-quality remanufacturing.”

FDS have identified four key areas where it believes costs are being cut in diesel remanufacturing. These are first, not replacing some components, secondly, not cleaning properly, thirdly, not testing and fourthly, through use of non- genuine components. All of these directly impact quality and reliability.

Smith cited an example of a poorly remanufactured pump that was available to purchase in the UK, but the most expensive part of the pump known as the ZME valve had not been replaced.

* Read the diesel system feature in CAT next month.

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