Tag Archive | "NGK"

IS THE AFTERMARKET EMISSIONS COMPLIANT?

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IS THE AFTERMARKET EMISSIONS COMPLIANT?


By Greg Whitaker

At this year’s What Car? Awards the coveted ‘Car of the Year’ gong was picked up by Kia for its e-Niro EV. This marked the first time that a car maker from the Pacific Rim had picked up such an accolade, but crucially it was the first time that an electric car could be considered practical enough for the magazine to recommend one to its readers as being better than, rather than just a compromised alternative to, a conventional petrol or diesel-powered car.

Electrification is one of three major areas (or to use industry jargon ‘megatrends’) where the motor industry is changing and fast, with the other two being ‘connected car’ and autonomy. This is good news for the health of all concerned, but does it mean that car manufacturers are done with conventional power trains?

The answer is no, at least if you read some of the press releases about emissions-reducing technology that is being developed in reaction to emissions. Delphi Technologies for example produces a GDI (gasoline direct injection) system that runs at 350 bar – tech that the manufacturer itself immodestly describes as ‘state of the art’. However even this has now been supplanted by a new system that runs at an intense 500+ bar, or around 7,500 psi.

Under pressure

Such pressure means the fuel vapour mix is so fine it will explode at an atomic level, meaning even very small particulates are reduced by half. However, running engines so hard is not without problems.

“The industry has long recognized that increasing injection pressure to 500+ bar could substantially cut engine-out particulates while improving CO2 emissions and fuel economy,” explained Walter Piock, Chief Engineer, Gasoline Systems, Delphi Technologies.

The challenge has been to achieve such pressures without increasing the drive loads from the pump. As most engines power the GDI pump through the camshaft drive, a conventional approach would usually require a costly redesign and strengthening of the camshaft mechanism.

“By designing an innovative new internal sealing system for our GFP3 500+ bar pump, in some applications, we have designed a downsized plunger diameter which prevents increasing the loads in the drive mechanism,” said Piock.

Descriptions of the Multec 16 injectors and ‘forged rail’ make no reference to the parts being serviceable, and it is likely that components under that significant amount of pressure will be sealed for life.

Time will tell how reliable a pump that operates under such a load will be, but there can be no denying that the increase in combustion efficiency will allow the petrol engine to be a viable proposition to both the buying public and to politicians for a while yet.

Of course, the aftermarket has to follow OE so there is little in the way of innovation in this field, although products such as ‘universal’ lambda sensors could well make the emissions from a vehicle worse as they are not calibrated to the specific values needed for the application. Fortunately there a plenty of OE-spec parts available, such as the recently launched wide band (also known as five-wire) sensor range under NGK’s NTK sensors brand.

“We have had a very positive response from our customers to the launch of our new NTK five-wire sensors. NTK has more than 40 years’ experience in the sensor business and this is a fantastic addition to our portfolio” said Mark Hallam, Marketing Manager at NGK UK.

Slippery issue

It is also no secret that lubricants are getting thinner in a bid to increase engine efficiency. “Car and lubricants manufacturers try to improve the fuel economy of cars by reducing the viscosity of engine and transmission oils. A thinner oil flows more easily and requires less energy for it to be pumped into the engine,” said Bob Wood, a Technical Engineer at Total Lubricants. “To be compliant with ACEA specifications, synthetic oils or severely hydrocracked base oils are used in combination with the dedicated additives, to not only meet the minimum requirements, but to exceed them”. Wood added that the pace of development of thin synthetic oils for modern and hybrid engines is fast, and that innovations in the additive pack, such as the firm’s patented ‘age resistant’ technology would continue.

Standards question

Buying aftermarket products that directly relate to the emissions that a vehicle produces can be complex. Equipment such as DPFs and catalysts vary wildly in price and this is due in part to different methods of producing them. One of the main areas of debate over the last few years is how effective these components are. David Carpenter of Cats and Pipes explained to us the last time we spoke that: “When buying a product of this technical complexity, in order to guarantee the product complies, it is important to purchase a product that meets Euro classification and comes with all the relevant and up to date test data and quality approval marks”.

Crucially, and in reference to a row that the aftermarket had seen in recent years, he added: “It is also important to question the data and information received to ensure it applies to the actual product you are purchasing. Also, very simply, if the aftermarket version you are buying is totally different in appearance and size to the manufacturer fitted version, there has to be a difference in performance”.

“This is particularly relevant with DPFs and CATs that are supposed to meet the Euro classification to be retailed in the UK. If they are physically only half the size of the original factory fitted part, they cannot possibly meet the standards to which they are supposed to comply. This is a challenge for the aftermarket and small companies which often do not have the time or resources to check all this information and are often buying purely on price and good faith however visual checks are a good place to start,” he furthered, concluding that apart from the environmental issue, products that don’t meet the spec result in returns and unhappy customers.

It seems that the battle of price vs quality is not over yet.

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MAN ARRESTED IN FAKE SPARK PLUGS RAID

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MAN ARRESTED IN FAKE SPARK PLUGS RAID


Trading Standards in East Sussex has uncovered a haul of fake spark plugs, valued at nearly £40,000

Istvan Lorincz of Hailsham was found to be in possession of bags of the engine components, along with sophisticated label making equipment and cartons. He had been passing off the fakes as authentic parts on internet auction sites.

Fake plugs found in raid (Photo: East Sussex Trading Standards)

Hove Crown Court found him guilty of 25 breaches of the trademarks act and handed down a four-month prison sentence, suspended for eighteen months.  

Cllr Bill Bentley, East Sussex County Council told local paper, The Eastbourne Herald: “This unscrupulous individual was caught with counterfeit motor parts with a very high value”.

“He was knowingly selling these items online to unsuspecting consumers and businesses around the country, to the detriment not just of the buyers, but of the manufacturers whose products he claimed to be offering and to genuine traders trying to make an honest living”

Rumours of fake spark plugs in the market have been floating about for a while.

 

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NGK BECOMES SHAREHOLDER OF TECALLIANCE

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NGK BECOMES SHAREHOLDER OF TECALLIANCE


Ignition giant NGK Spark Plug has become a shareholder of aftermarket data firm TecAlliance.

TecAlliance’s portfolio includes international vehicle and product data, repair and maintenance information, the TecDoc catalogue, data management and analytics as well as consultancy services n.

Damien Germès, Senior Vice President EMEA at NGK Spark Plug in Europe confirmed: “To become a shareholder of TecAlliance is a strategic decision and investment. We fully understand how essential it is for aftermarket distributors and workshops to have high-quality, instant data in a fast-changing market where digital solutions are becoming of vital importance. This investment is another demonstration of our commitment to continuously serving and supporting the independent aftermarket”.

“We are pleased to welcome as a new shareholder such an important player from the field of vehicle electronics”, emphasised Jürgen Buchert, Managing Director of TecAlliance. “This is another step towards our continuous goal to optimise and deepen the quality of our data and tailor-made solutions for a digital automotive aftermarket.”

 

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SUPPLIERS FINED IN RECENT CARTELS

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SUPPLIERS FINED IN RECENT CARTELS


Another cartel has been exposed

The European Commission has fined OE suppliers Bosch, Continental and NGK a total of €151M, after participating in one or more of five historic cartels concerning the supplies of spark plugs, hydraulic and electronic brake system components to VMs in Europe.

The first cartel lasted from 2000 until 2011 and aimed at avoiding competition by respecting each other’s traditional customers and maintaining the existing status quo in the spark plugs industry in the European Economic Area.

The second and third related to the supply of various braking components including electronic parking brake systems between 2007 and 2011.

All suppliers acknowledged their participation in these cartels and agreed to settle the
case. Denso was also involved in the first cartel, but was not fined after revealing the existence of its cartel to the Commission. TRW also escaped fines altogether for disclosing the second and third cartels, while Continental avoided charges for one of the two cartels it participated in on the same grounds.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who is in charge of competition policy said: “These cases are about collusion at the expense of car makers. But in the end, any extra costs these carmakers may have incurred could potentially be passed on to final consumers when they buy a car. So our work will help to make sure that those markets work fairly for consumers.” She concluded added: “Today’s decisions are unrelated to our investigation that several German carmakers might have broken EU competition rules. That is still ongoing”.

“We will be active in this area as long as we keep finding companies that hope to
make higher profits by colluding instead of competing.”

Previously, bearing suppliers and air conditioning component makers have been fined under the same anti-trust rules for colluding against vehicle manufacturers.

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AFTERMARKET LIVES: VISIT TO NGK


Mark Hallam invites CAT up to NGK’s distribution hub in Hemel Hempstead.

Most workshops will know the NGK brand through its BoxClever scheme, where customers can trade in their empty lambda sensor boxes in exchange for reward points to spend on an array of gifts at the firm.

Besides this loyalty programme, the manufacturer has had a strong foothold in the aftermarket for many years; beginning its operations in Nagoya, Japan 81 years ago. Eventually, the firm expanded its footprint overseas by building spark plug factories around the world. Presently, the network totals 11 factories, four development sites and over 20 sales offices worldwide.

LOGISTICS
However, today’s visit brought us to its UK headquarters in Hemel Hempstead, which was previously located in Hendon (North West London) before relocating nearly two decades ago. “The transition of NGK’s UK HQ to Hemel Hempstead was due to the requirement for more space for a rapidly growing business”, said Mark Hallam, UK Marketing Manager at the firm. “The Hemel Hempstead site was purpose built in a location with transport links ensuring an efficient delivery service to our customers”, adding that the warehouse had previously been extended to stock its core ignition lines with plans in the pipeline to expand it even further due to company expansion.

The current premises houses 100 staff and a large warehouse space where parts are sourced from Japan and distributed to trade and supply chain customers across the country. The site contains a finance and marketing department as well as its sales office and OE division where a team of staff are employed to communicate directly with vehicle manufacturers. Hallam elaborated. “NGK work directly with all of the major VMs around the world”, he continued. “NGK Spark Plugs and lambda sensors are the world’s number one OE fitment”.

BRANDING
Despite the firm’s bread and butter being in in glow and spark plug sales, this is not the only part of the business. “NGK are more than just a spark plug company,” remarked Hallam. “We also sell glow plugs, lambda, NOx, EGT, MAF and MAP sensors as well as ignition coils and spark plug covers. Under our NTK brand we also operate a specialist Technical Ceramics division from Hemel Hempstead specialising in ceramic cutting tools and IC packages.”

Hemel Hempstead DC

To communicate its ‘more than spark plugs’ message to garages, the firm recently launched a range of aftermarket products under the NTK division with over 150 part numbers, including 87 Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensors and 69 Manifold Absolute Pressure (MAP) sensors that have been ‘well received’ so far. In addition, the company updated its logos to bring awareness to both businesses. “In 2016, NGK developed a new brand identity with two new logos. “All ignition related products come under ‘NGK’s Ignition Parts’ with all sensor products coming under ‘NTK Vehicle Electronics’”, noted Hallam.

STAFF RETENTION
Staff longevity has played a crucial role in business expansion with most employees possessing over 20 years experience The standard setup involves a team of reps that are sent out to different regions in the country to work closely with existing customers by developing and keeping their stock holdings competitive as well as scouting out new leads to grow the firm’s UK footprint. “The NGK sales representatives are an asset to the company offering our customers market leading sales, product and technical support across the UK”, said Hallam. He adds that staff loyalty has played a big contribution towards the receiving its A1 Motor Stores Award, which proudly sits behind a glass trophy cabinet in the foyer area.

Going into the autumn and winter months, the team at Hemel Hempstead will continue growing the UK base organically through customer retention while hammering home the message of NGK and its various subsidiary brands. Although there are some new developments on the cards, everything is being kept top secret until a big reveal at Automechanika Frankfurt next year.

Posted in Factor & Supplier News, Garage News, News, Out and About with CAT, Retailer News, Sensors, Spark PlugsComments (0)

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