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Automotive components and systems manufacturer Schaeffler has published its financial report for the first half of the year. 

Company revenue, reported as €7.2 billion euros for the first six months, decreased at constant currency by 0.8 percent in what the report referred to as a ‘persistently difficult market environment’. This was driven largely by the automotive divisions, while the industrial division saw some revenue growth. 

Meanwhile, the firm’s earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) margin was 7.7 percent compared with the prior year’s 11.0 percent margin, with the decrease attributed to a decrease in gross margin and higher expenses. However, this did improve from 7.5 percent in the first quarter to 7.9 percent in the second. 


The Automotive OEM division saw revenue of approximately 4,514 million euros for the first half of this year, with the firm claiming a drop of 2.9 percent on last year in constant currency. Though the company did say that ‘order intake was very encouraging in the first six months, totaling 7.7 billion euros’ and that the E-Mobility business division won a 1.1 billion euro supply contract.

Schaeffler’s Langen HQ

Similarly, the Aftermarket division also reported a revenue of 905 million euros, a drop of 2.4 percent at constant currency, attributed to a ‘considerable decline in revenue in the Europe region’. EBIT before special items was reported as 136 million euros compared to 177 million euros in the prior year, while EBIT margin before special items was 15.1 percent, down from 19.3 percent in the prior year. 


Dietmar Heinrich, CFO of Schaeffler, said the company is ‘increasingly successful in managing our use of capital more efficiently,’ and noted: “In the second half of 2019, we will focus on even stronger discipline regarding cost and capital and on generating cash flow. 

Meanwhile, Klaus Rosenfeld, CEO of Schaeffler, noted the ‘persistent weakness’ of the global automotive business, and said: “Following a difficult first six months that fell slightly short of our expectations, we believe that the market environment will remain challenging in the second half of 2019 as well.

“We have acted on this trend by adjusting our full-year guidance for 2019,” he said. 


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Divisional Director Steve Gray discusses the next steps for the Parts Alliance’s new SCMF branch in Croydon.

A full range is now stocked

Last month, the Parts Alliance opened two branches: namely an SAS Autoparts store in Newcastle and SCMF in Croydon. Well, that got us thinking that we have never actually been to a branch of the factor properly known as Southern Counties Motor Factors, so we jumped on the bus to South London to see if it is similar to other branches of the Parts Alliance.

On arrival, everything seems to be running efficiently as the firm’s delivery drivers set off on their early morning runs to nearby workshops and motor factors. Inside, the warehouse follows an accessory shop format with a trade counter situated at the back with well- known car care, tool and retail brands stacked against the centre walls. A sales office is also featured next door, where staff could be heard rattling phones and dealing with customer calls on our arrival.

SCMF Divisional Director Steve Gray and Andy Rogers, SCMF’s South West Regional Business Director, accompanied us along with Branch Manager William Barrett who joins the team from his previous management post at Andrew Page in Croydon. Both Barrett and Rogers have extensive years of experience between them having worked in a range of senior roles within the supply-chain industry.

After getting acquainted, it was time to check out the warehouse. The design and structure is bright and modern, which was hard to envisage for Rodgers at the beginning, as he explained: “This building was just ‘bricks and mortar’ when it was acquired, however, we completely gutted the premises and installed a new roof, windows and reconfigured the entire layout”. Gray expands: “It went like clockwork”, he said. “It was a turnkey operation led by our project management team.”

For logistical purposes, bulk items such as Comma oil barrels have been allocated to aisles near the depot entrance in order to shift these wares to and from the site without hassle. Gray added a general point regarding deliveries: “We receive up to four deliveries of stock throughout the day from our local distribution hub in Sidcup. The main focus for us is on fast moving parts, and we have good traction on those”.

Racking was installed in double-quick time

Meanwhile, PA brand DriveTec brake discs occupied the central aisles in the new black, red and white packaging, launched in Q4 last year. In addition, the ground f loor contained filtration products from the likes of Mann Filter, plus a comprehensive clutch portfolio from major players including Sachs and LuK, stretched across the shop floor.

The upstairs mezzanine consisted of exhaust products, which were hanging up in a tidy formation, while more DriveTec branded wares could be found in the form of wiper blades. Other PA core product lines included Monroe shock absorbers and Shaftec steering and suspension parts awaiting distribution. “We opened the warehouse with 16,000 SKUs and we’ve got 50 per cent mezzanine so it’s easy to extend” notes Gray. He adds that the facility has been built in a ‘modular way with an extension pre-planned in mind’, that will be constructed along the top floor without fear of disrupting day-to-day operations.

The Croydon site currently employs 12 staff, but the firm is now on a recruitment drive to fill more positions within its sales and warehousing departments, following expansion. Another objective for the team is to gradually increase its f leet of vans and motorcycles in particular, to bypass traffic disruptions around the area. Gray expands: “We opened SCMF Croydon with six vans, but we’re increasing this and our bike fleet because the traffic is quite bad here. As with our current fleet, we will continue to deliver within a three to four mile radius”. Motorbikes are a popular way of getting parts delivered along the Capital’s notoriously congested roadmap.

As with other Parts Alliance brands, there is a plan in place to open more SCMF branches.

Gray mentions they will be announced in good time once suitable building sites have been sourced. We will certainly drop by some of these locations as and when they’re confirmed, but for now, it’s business as normal for the team at SCMF.

Posted in Accessories, Batteries, Braking, Car Care, Clutches, Exhausts, Factor & Supplier News, Filters, Garage News, News, Out and About with CAT, Retailer News, Shock Absorbers, Spark Plugs, Steering & Suspension, Tools, WipersComments (1)


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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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AN INVESTIGATION has found that defective second-hand tyres are being sold to motorists, after figures showed 989 deaths or injuries have been a result of these models over the last five years.

Evidence was gathered when trading standard watchdogs posed as customers and bought samples from a number of dealers in County Durham. An Inspector at TyreSafe concluded that six out of seven purchases were deemed faulty while one was classed as ‘legal’ and over 18 years old.

Two were seriously damaged after being under-inflated. Two had damage to the bead, a reinforced rubber section inside the wheel. One contained water, showing it had not been stored properly. Five had no official ‘part worn’ stamp, classing them illegal according to a report in the Sunday Mirror.

Previous data collated from TyreSafe backed up the paper’s sentiment, highlighting that 98 percent of second-hand tyres carry no ‘part worn’ markings while 4.5m are sold to UK motorists year-on-year.

A TyreSafe spokesman, said. “Competence among used tyre retailers is questionable and the majority of used tyres are not properly inspected. A tyre is classed as a waste product until it’s been fully checked”.

The National Tyre’s Distributors Association (NTDA) has expressed its dismay, describing these practices as ‘appalling’ and a ‘ticking-time bomb’. The federation also calls for a ban on used car tyre sales in an attempt to reduce further accidents and deter rogue traders from selling on faulty products.

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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.


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”.


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”.

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”.

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.

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)

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