Tag Archive | "Connected Car"

MAINTAINING A PROFESSIONAL STANDARD

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MAINTAINING A PROFESSIONAL STANDARD


Garage owner Graham Gent invites CAT up to MOT-A-CAR in Sittingbourne, Kent

As the festive season approaches, most workshops will be embracing the spirit of Christmas by means of winter health checks as well as changing batteries, bulbs and wiper blades – all of which are things that boom in the colder months.

Although this is a buoyant time for garages, one business in particular has been busier than normal. Sittingbourne-based MOT-A-CAR was our
destination today, where the team have been working tirelessly to get their new Van Shop up and running.

VAN SHOP
Launched a month earlier, the new unit has allready attracted leasing companies, that have started booking in their van fleets. for servicing. Garage Owner Graham Gent explained: “We have always serviced vans, but we felt a need to separate the units we currently have.”

“We do everything in here from motorcycle testing to mini buses classes one, two, three, four, five and seven”. He adds that wife and business partner Claire, deals with the marketing aspect of the firm, using her expertise to spread awareness of its latest addition through the company’s website and social media platforms.

UNITS AND SERVICES
As Gent already touched on, the business contains several units that all serve a different purpose. Apart from the newcomer, a Tyre Shop with a class four MOT bay occupies the site, alongside the main workshop space – used for servicing a mishmash of vehicles from farmers Land Rovers to high-end, executive cars. The workshop also contains a reception area featuring oils and additives from the likes of Forte and Mobil, that were stacked along counter display stands on our arrival.

Besides general MOT repairs, there are plenty of services in the company’s itinerary, as Gent brings to our attention, “We’ve got a total of four vehicles that go out for car collections and deliveries”. When asked what areas are covered, he said: “We travel anywhere in Swale from the Medway towns to Maidstone and Canterbury. We have been further afield, but the difficulty is time out of the workshop, so we have to monitor this accordingly,” adding that a vehicle recovery process is also provided by the firm, which would explain the large pick-up truck parked outside the premises.

BUSINESS GROWTH
The company’s expansion over the years comes down to several factors. However, Gent says the main one is the team’s work ethic, something that has been difficult to identify when recruiting potential candidates prior. “The biggest challenge has been employing staff”, Gent recalls, “Many people coming into the trade aren’t as driven as they should be. They don’t see it as a profession but rather as a job, and unfortunately, there’s too many kids coming out of college that don’t seem motivated.”

The owner plans workshop expansion

Teething troubles aside, the business employs seven technicians bringing experience from fast-fits, independent garages and dealerships up and down the country. Gent himself is a Master Technician who began his training as a young man at a nearby Ford Dealer. He later moved on to manage a workshop at a local Renault dealership, before opening the business with wife Claire 15 years ago.

Gent mentions that the team have ‘tapped into the data and report side of its Garage Data System (GDS)’, thus enabling them to exploit further sales and margin opportunities. This internal programme has proved a necessary asset with the garage reporting an annual turnover of £500,000 last year.

CONNECTED FUTURE
While talks in the aftermarket revolve back to connected cars, Gent is aware of this technology and how it may impact business in the foreseeable future. With that said, he is in the midst of putting infrastructure in place to safeguard the company. This will involve investing in another unit on-site for repairing electric and hybrid vehicles, as well as acquiring some charge points and an electric vehicle bay.

Of course, training on these systems is fundamental, but Gent seems to have this under control as he prepares to enrol staff onto relevant courses next year. He concluded: “We have to balance courses with our technicians’ levels and experience. It’s about finding the right place and training provider. We also want to buy a few more workshops to expand our brand, but again, it’s all about finding the correct location.” We look forward to visiting Gent’s new sites in the near future.

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THE ‘DISRUPTIVE FORCES’ OF THE NEAR FUTURE

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THE ‘DISRUPTIVE FORCES’ OF THE NEAR FUTURE


A senior figure at Delphi explains some of the change to vehicles and how this could affect the aftermarket.

Unless you’ve been living under one of Ned Ludd’s stocking frames for the last decade, you can’t have missed all the brough-ha- ha about the connected car. Trade bodies talk about the issues endlessly and the topics are often brought up in discussions in Europe.

However, the people that discuss the why’s and wherefores are rarely the people who are actually developing the systems. As a result, there are often crucial points that are misunderstood. To counter this, we had a conversation with David Paja, Senior Vice President and President, Electronics & Safety at Delphi, who states that there are are three obstacles (or ‘megatrends’ as he calls them) that need to be addressed before the sort of connectivity that VMs and governments are asking for can be achieved.

BIG DATA
The first huge problem is the sheer volume of data that is captured by next-generation vehicles’ sensors, cameras and radar. “If you think of a vehicle on the road today, the amount of data captured by the vehicle is in the order of several megabytes per second, but as we move towards fully autonomous vehicles, there could be many gigabytes per second that could be generated,” said Paja explaining that a gigabyte is equivalent to 1,024 megabytes.

“Not all of that data is usable, but when we think of the needs of moving it around the vehicle, the needs are first of all one gigabyte per second, moving up to ten gb per second”.

Paja explained that with that amount of data, the ‘current connectivity doesn’t scale’. “We will have to rethink all of the architecture” he said. The key in how to manage all of that information is ‘centralisation,’ – or in other words, upload it to the cloud. Not all of it will have any use or relevance, in fact Delphi says that only around five percent will be stored, although that is still going to be a heck of a lot of data.

This brings Paja to the next point: What to do with all of this info, and who would want it. The answer might surprise you, as the data thrown up by cars turns out to be extremely valuable to those who know what to do with it. “In the future, a lot of value is going to be put on the data,” he said. “A lot of analysts have attempted to size the value data services business. They talk about $750bn of potential value. We’ve been adding capabilities to extract the right data and move into a marketplace where it can be monetized. So we are in a good position to embrace this megatrend.”

There are lots of people who want the data – and not just staticians looking to build electronic road pricing models. All sorts of information that can be useful to marketing experts and insurance companies can be gleaned from the computers by those that know how to cut to the data required. To that end, suppliers are starting to do deals with software firms that offer ‘data solutions’: Delphi for example has acquired Dearborn-based data analytics firm, ControlTec. It has also started work with a ‘data broker’, a firm that buys raw data, structures it and offers it for sale.

Don’t think that all of this computing happens on remote cloud servers though. Indeed, your own vehicle will decide what info needs to go where, so some analytics must be done on board the vehicle. This requires a sharp rise in the size of the computers. “Traditionally a computing power increase tends to follow Moore’s Law, where the capacity doubles over time, but when you think about the computing power increase needed here, it is not a linear curve, but exponential,” explains Paja. “Today, a vehicle can have up to 50 ECUs and modules. With the connected car you could double that… well, that isn’t scalable, there isn’t room on the car for a start. It isn’t practical and would be too expensive so there has to be a significant consolidation.”

The plan from Delphi, and no doubt from other ECU suppliers is to reduce the number of ECUs, including the various body control modules from the current 50 to just three large computers. “Our view is that there only needs to be three, and this will enable savings in mass production,” he said, adding that consolidating the computers and redesigning the network bus accordingly will make affordable, true self- driving cars closer to becoming a real possibility.

SERVICE

So where does this brave new world of scaled data leave the aftermarket? Asked how the aftermarket will connect to the cars, he replied, “That’s a good question, and one I’m not sure I have the answer.” Pressed further, it seems that the OBD port will only be left on the car for as long as legislation actually requires it to be there, because diagnostics data can be streamed wirelessly. This goes back to the question of ‘access to data’. The dealership will be able to communicate with the car, potentially from anywhere as it is connected to the cloud, through a channel, but the connection obviously needs to be encrypted to keep out hackers and would-be car thieves. The problem for us in the aftermarket is to identify who has the ‘right’ to also have access to these secure channels and how this right is enshrined in European law.

However, if you can get on the network then the good news is that electronic fault- finding should be a bit easier, thanks to the huge reduction in the number of controllers and associated wiring, although Paja explains that monitoring live data comes with a caveat: “It certainly does (offer diagnostic advances) across multiple controllers but the amount of incoming data by orders of magnitude… Discriminating data becomes very important when you have such a large amount of it.” The network itself will be different to the CAN that garages have become used to. Some data (firing the injectors, triggering the airbags etc) obviously has priority over other functions, but the wiring won’t be as crude as simply having high – and low – speed network wiring.

MAJOR CHANGE
Whatever happens to vehicle’s wiring looms over the next few years, one thing is clear: It certainly won’t be business as usual, for either the VMs, supply chain OEMs like Delphi, or us in the aftermarket. “I don’t think there has been a situation in automotive history where there have been so many ‘disruptive forces’ happening at the same time,” said Paja. “Electrification will be a disruptive force and autonomy as well as data connectivity. The three things are happening at the same time. There are opportunities as it is pushing companies to adapt and adapt very fast.”

Let’s hope we all manage to adapt, before it’s too late.

DEBATE OVER ACCESS TO DATA
Who will, and who won’t have access to data on the next generation of vehicles is a topic that has been kicked around by the aftermarket and by people speaking on behalf of the VMs for ages, and now the discussion has reached the Commons. Transport Minister Lord Callanan said, “Risks of people hacking into the technology might be low, but we must make sure the public is protected. Whether we’re turning vehicles into wi-fi connected hotspots or equipping them with millions of lines of code to become fully automated, it is important that they are protected against cyber- attacks. That’s why it’s essential all parties involved in the manufacturing and supply chain are provided with a consistent set of guidelines that support this global industry.”

The IMI’s Steve Nash asks who actually has access to this info, which largely falls outside the scope of the new GDPR data protection act, as it relates to the vehicle and not the individual. “With the sector currently unregulated and no national standards in place, it’s not always possible to track the people who may have access to our personal information,” Nash said. “We are working hard to get government to address this area as well as the creation of systems at the manufacturing stage, so that motorists have confidence that they are not at risk.”

Mike Hawes, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Chief Exec commented: “A consistent set of guidelines is an important step towards ensuring the UK can be among the first – and safest – of international markets to grasp the benefits of this exciting new technology.”

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VMs TO ‘DESIGN OUT’ HACKERS

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VMs TO ‘DESIGN OUT’ HACKERS


DfT Minister Lord Callanan

A new set of government guidelines have been announced by Department for Transport Minister Lord Callanan to protect motorists from cyber attacks on the next generation of connected and autonomous vehicles.

With immediate effect, manufacturers and technicians developing smart cars and high tech vehicles must ensure crooks are kept at bay by designing out any cyber security threats preventing would-be hackers from obtaining personal data, stealing cars that use keyless entry and taking control of them with malicious intent through wi-fi.

“Risks of people hacking into the technology might be low, but we must make sure the public is protected” notes Callanan. “Whether we’re turning vehicles into wi-fi connected hotspots or equipping them with millions of lines of code to become fully automated, it is important that they are protected against cyber- attacks. That’s why it’s essential all parties involved in the manufacturing and supply chain are provided with a consistent set of guidelines that support this global industry”.

Although most of the weight rests on VMs’ shoulders, Steve Nash, Chief Executive of the Institute of the Motoring Industry (IMI), says attention must also be brought to independents repairing these models, which is yet to be addressed by government in their latest guidelines.

“Computer diagnostics, vehicle programming and software updates are commonplace in the motor industry today. However, with the sector currently unregulated and no national standards in place it’s not always possible to track the people who may have access to our personal information” Nash said. “We are working hard to get government to address this area as well as the creation of systems at the manufacturing stage, so that motorists have confidence that they are not at risk.”

Mike Hawes, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Chief Exec commented: “A consistent set of guidelines is an important step towards ensuring the UK can be among the first – and safest – of international markets to grasp the benefits of this exciting new technology”.

The new guidance can be viewed on the DfT’s website.

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RMI UNVEILS NEW VOICE FOR BODYSHOP SECTOR

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RMI UNVEILS NEW VOICE FOR BODYSHOP SECTOR


The National Association of Bodyshops and Vehicle Builders and Repairers Association have merged brands to become a ‘single voice’ for the UK’s independent crash repair sector.

Formerly known as RMI Bodyshops (NAB & VBRA), the National Body Repair Association (NBRA), enters the sector with a new rebrand and focus to tackle an agglomeration of issues expected to affect its members in coming years.

Jason Moseley, Executive Director at RMIF, will head up the new division. “The RMI Bodyshop Division for the first time ever has one voice representing the bodyshop repair industry”, he said. “One thing that we hear in the market is consolidation. My view and the view of the NBRA is quite possibly that over the next 10 years, two thirds of revenues from repair could come from four big consolidated bodyshop groups and potentially in the end we could see those groups performing virtually all the insurer paid repairs. Acquisition is all part of this consolidated picture and that’s exactly why the NBRA has reflected on what we need to do and the services we need to provide that is changing”.

The partnership also seeks to challenge ongoing problems with data protection, the Connected Car as well as enticing younger generation technicians into the industry to tackle these models.

Roger Collins, Chairman of the NBRA, concluded. “It’s vital as part of our change we are the centre of change, discussions and negotiations because it’s undoubtedly going to change the market”.

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IAAF CONFERENCE: WILLIAMSON URGES CHANGE

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IAAF CONFERENCE: WILLIAMSON URGES CHANGE


IAAF Chief Exec Wendy Williamson has opened the annual conference under the title ‘How to Survive and Thrive Post Brexit’.

“As an ardent remainer, I spent weeks being shocked about the result of the referendum” said Williamson. “However, as the people in the corridors of power are fond of saying: ‘Brexit means Brexit’ and we must respect the decision and get on with it”.

Her introduction included a warning about the speed that VMs are developing fully autonomous cars and trucks. “Last year, I said that the greatest threat was the connected car… Well, now I think I may have been wrong” Williamson said, before showing short promotional films from Ford and Volvo Trucks, adding that these new developments are not nieche high-value vehicles, but they are from mainstream manufacturers, and that the aftermarket must adapt accordingly.

The conference is in progress at the time of writing, with presentations from Frost and Sullivan and Boswell Aftermarket underway.

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IAAF: WILLIAMSON’S STARK WARNING

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IAAF: WILLIAMSON’S STARK WARNING


IMG_20151217_103228IAAF chair Wendy Williamson has opened the Federation’s annual conference with a stark warning.

Under the theme of ‘survive and thrive’ Williamson spoke about the challenges presented to the independent sector by new cloud-based technology that is being introduced by the vehicle manufacturers.

“The threats from the VMs have now grown to unprecedented levels. Last year we talked about the connected car, but this year. We are facing a potential lock out from all the VMs. I genuinely believe that this is a greater threat than we faced ten years ago with block exemption regulations.”

“Technology seems to be outpacing regulations. To give you one example, Volvo have deleted functionality from the 16-pin socket apart from emissions data. The next step is that the garages will have to have pre-verified diagnostic tools and will have to pay the VM on a case-by-case basis to access the information they need.”

Williamson also thanked the industry for the work it had done in the past year. “I believe we are on the right track and I hope we are not just surviving, but thriving as well and I hope you enjoy what will be an interesting and stimulating day”.

 

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