Experienced professional ‘Launches’ into diagnostics brand

Launch UK, one of the leading UK suppliers of automotive diagnostics equipment, has appointed Richard Collyer in the role of product and equipment specialist, bringing a wealth of aftermarket experience to the established brand.

Collyer’s primary role will be to market, demonstrate and sell Launch’s ATF 501S, a device to clean and maintain the entire transmission system easily and quickly.

Richard Collyer

The tool is an innovative piece of equipment and Collyer will utilise more 30 years of aftermarket knowledge to help communicate the product’s benefits to customers.

Collyer will also be working alongside Launch experts to bring new and exciting products to the Launch UK range. The first of which will be a DPF gun that will effectively clear a blocked DPF unit without dismantling – something that is sure to be widely anticipated by the aftermarket with concerns surrounding emissions continuing to grow.

Launch UK is continuing to support customers throughout 2017 by offering numerous additional benefits alongside the sale of its quality diagnostics range, including a 24-month extended warranty, free software updates up to the value of £425 on selected products and market-leading technical support via its official website at launchtech.co.uk.

Dave Richards, Launch UK managing director, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Richard to the team and we’re confident that his advanced expertise and wealth of experience will be a strong asset to Launch UK. His enthusiasm is clear to see and we are excited to introduce our new-to-range products with Richard on board to help us along the way.”

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BEHR HELLA SERVICE’S Advanced Training Academy

As the thermal management experts, Behr Hella Service has an impressive knowledgebase and product range that can ensure that independent workshops have the ability to service heating, venting and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to the highest standard. To achieve this goal, workshops not only need to fit premium quality products, but have a complete understanding of the HVAC system and be aware of any recent advances. To empower the independent, Behr Hella Service has recently launched its Advanced Training Academy (ATA).

The academy focuses on giving workshops essential updates on the technical developments of the HVAC system, but also refreshes the technicians’ memory on existing challenges and industry best practice.

Head of Business Development for Behr Hella Service, Steve Hudson, said: “This is a really exciting initiative for workshops, it solidifies their knowledge on the systems – making them more confident in their abilities – and also teaches them new things about technologies they may not have come across yet.

“It’s really important in this industry to have specific training, as it motivates technicians to continue learning new things and keep them abreast of what’s happening in our sector.

“It’s also a great idea for garages wanting to expand their business or if they want to focus on becoming specialists in the area. Being trained by one of the leading experts in the original equipment (OE) and aftermarket fields, is definitely a route to take advantage of and the best part – it’s free!

“We’re making ATA training available through your local motor factor, so let them know and they will liaise with us.”

At the beginning of 2017, Behr Hella Service increased the transparency of its portfolio by introducing a new Premium Line branding. More than 7,500 products currently encompass the Behr Hella Service range, which will be grouped under two different markings. The Premium Line will include around 4,500 part numbers produced by OE manufacturers, with the remaining 3,000 references forming the basis of Behr Hella Service’s Standard product range, which is produced to OE specifications.

In many cases customers will still be able to choose between an OE or standard product for specific applications, with Behr Hella Service maintaining its strategic focus on product quality, price levels and service. Standard products will produce equal performance under normal conditions, whereas the OE Premium Line offers higher performance reserves to cope with extreme conditions and are designed to last for the entire life of the vehicle.

To register interest, garages need only to complete the online form found at strengthenyourpotential.com

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HELLA and ZF form strategic partnership

ZF and HELLA are entering into a strategic partnership. Both automotive suppliers will benefit from this cooperation on sensor technology, particularly for front camera systems, imaging and radar systems. ZF will further strengthen its portfolio as a systems supplier which offers both modern assistance systems and autonomous driving functions, whereas HELLA will drive technological development and benefits from a broader market access with its leading technologies. The first joint development project in camera technology will start immediately, with the objective of a market launch in 2020.

“This strategic partnership for sensor technology with HELLA enhances our position as a complete systems supplier for modern assistance systems as well as autonomous driving functions,” says Dr. Stefan Sommer, CEO of ZF Friedrichshafen AG. “This non-exclusive cooperation with HELLA is an important expansion of our Vision Zero ecosystem of development partnerships. Thus, we can create a wider technological foundation for safety and autonomous driving.”

Dr. Rolf Breidenbach, CEO at HELLA KGaA Hueck & Co., adds: “HELLA is a strong and experienced provider of sensor technologies. Our knowledge aligns perfectly with ZF’s expertise. By combining our strengths, we clearly aim to provide market leading and high performing assistance systems and autonomous driving functions. In addition, this cooperation will strengthen HELLA’s position as a well-regarded supplier for imaging and radar sensor technologies.”

Front cameras to achieve the best Euro NCAP rating
In their first joint project, the partners are targeting a current market trend: In the future, the highest Euro NCAP safety ratings will require the assistance of camera-supported assistance functions. Therefore, the demand for front cameras in all vehicle segments will rise. ZF and HELLA will offer automotive manufacturers a joint product and are starting development immediately with an expected SOP in 2020. ZF brings hardware and its expertise in functions, systems and integration to the table, whereas HELLA and its subsidiary HELLA Aglaia Mobile Vision contribute competence in efficient, tried-and-tested imaging software and application development.

In the mid to long term, the partners will also provide camera systems for automated driving functions as well as for commercial vehicles and off-highway applications. ZF will expand its camera portfolio and thus will offer more options to customers while continuing to work with established partners. HELLA Aglaia will gain a new customer and partner for its independent and open software solutions for driver assistance systems.

Long-term development partnership for radar systems
In their cooperative work in the radar systems sector, the two partners will also identify opportunities to provide attractive volume-production solutions in the short to mid term by jointly building up their product portfolio. HELLA’s 360° surround view radar systems together with ZF’s mid-range and long-range radar systems will establish a new and comprehensive systems solution. While the joint development will focus on systems solutions, each partner will continue to develop and to offer its technology independently on a component level. Here, the true potential of a long-term development partnership lies in the ability to utilize common system architecture as well as product families which are adapted to each other.

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On the right track: Comline retains spot in The Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 league table

Comline Auto Parts (Comline), the British distributor of European, Japanese and Korean replacement car parts, has officially ranked in The Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 league table for the second year in succession.

Comline retains its place among the UK’s most illustrious and successful exporters after once again demonstrating prodigious two-year average sales growth of 46.57%. Furthermore, the Bedfordshire-based company was also recognised for annual international sales of almost £25 million across the 16/17 financial year.

First published in The Sunday Times’ Business section on the 11th June, 2017, the International Track 200 league table, now in its eighth year, ranks Britain’s mid-market private companies with the fastest-growing international sales. With Comline product being exported far and wide to over 40 countries worldwide, it is little surprise to see the company retaining its position in this distinguished list.

Comline Marketing and Communications Manager, Leigh Davies, underlined the enormous satisfaction felt by all at Comline in ranking alongside the UK’s elite for a second consecutive year:

“This incredible accolade is hugely satisfying for everyone at Comline. Our sustained success is a reflection on all facets of our organisation performing to a very high standard, and a tremendous amount of hard work has been put in right across the business.

“Following on from last year’s Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade and, more recently, our listing in the Financial Times’ FT1000, inclusion in the International Track 200 is another massive feather in the cap.”

The Sunday Times Track 200 is sponsored by HSBC and compiled by Fast Track, a research and events company that has generated a network of the UK’s best private companies, illustrated in league table format in The Sunday Times.

HSBC UK Head of Commercial Banking, Amanda Murphy, commented: “This year’s Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 is testament to the exciting opportunities available to ambitious UK businesses with appetite to grow their goods and services abroad.

“Advances in technology mean that service sector companies make up the majority of the businesses on the list, a trend that we’re sure to see continue. We work very closely with our business customers to help them achieve their goals, so it makes me immensely proud to see so many of them succeed.”

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Online platform scoops award in Paris

WhoCanFixMyCar.com, a platform which allows drivers to get quotes from the best local garages, has won the ‘Automotive Garage of Tomorrow’ Award in the Viva Tech conference in Paris.

The event, hosted by global parts manufacturer Valeo, was attended by over 50,000 guests including 5,000 start-ups, 1,000 investors and 400 speakers.

Co-hosted by Valeo, Google, BNP Paribas, Cisco, Airbus and many more, WhoCanFixMyCar was invited to present to an international audience made up of automotive and technology industry experts, investors and other businesses from Europe and beyond.

Standing alongside start-ups from around the world, Al Preston, Co-Founder of WhoCanFixMyCar, delivered the story behind the UK based business.
“40,000 new drivers are posting repair work to our garage network each month, a number which is already double the rate from six months ago.

“We have created an online marketplace where drivers, workshops, parts suppliers and manufacturers can benefit from better connectivity. We’re delighted to have won the ‘Automotive Garage of Tomorrow’ Award and hope that we can continue to help contribute positively to the digitisation of the aftermarket.”

On WhoCanFixMyCar winning the ‘Automotive Garage of Tomorrow Award’, Valeo commented;

“Whocanfixmycar has demonstrated its marketplace performance enthusiastically and professionally, offering inter-mediation between garages and drivers.

“With more than 9,000 partner garages and over 300,000 monthly visits, Valeo saw WCFMC add an incredible amount of value to garages while being innovative and efficient, values which are central to what Valeo believes in.”

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Roadlink wins ‘Manufacturing Champion’ award

Roadlink International proudly received the award of ‘Manufacturing Champion’ at the prestigious Express & Star Business Awards 2017 held at Wolverhampton Racecourse on 8 June.

Roadlink gained the coveted title ahead of two other successful manufacturers, all being described as ‘passionate and entrepreneurial’, after undergoing a thorough judging process at the recently expanded Roadlink facilities in Willenhall, West Midlands.

Copyright Jonathan Hipkiss Photography
Express and Star Business Awards 2017. Manufacturing Champion Roadlink International with sponsor Robert Hupfer and Mark Sharples from UTC Aerospace

The accolade follows a number of investments which are delivering planned business growth for the commercial vehicle (CV) parts supplier. Within the past 18 months, Roadlink has invested £700k into the expansion of its caliper remanufacturing facility, resulting in increased production, sales and job opportunities for the local community.

These recent developments have enabled the company to benefit from productivity improvements in caliper remanufacturing, whilst adhering to its ethos of continuous improvement in product quality.

Based in the West Midlands, the Express & Star is recognised as the biggest-selling regional evening newspaper in the UK and its Business Awards ceremony brings together 36 shortlisted companies throughout every sector of commerce and industry to celebrate the strength and breadth of the region’s economy.

Helen Arthur, Roadlink joint managing director, said: “This award is testament to our great team and their hard work over the past year and we’re thrilled to receive such recognition. Since opening our new remanufacturing facility in 2016 we have made significant progress in the business, this being reflected and celebrated in the new title of ‘Manufacturing Champion.’ Naturally we would like to pay tribute to our team and thank our customers for their continued support.”

Roadlink has also recently seen its distribution and remanufacturing processes being successfully audited to the new ISO9001:2015 and ISO14001:2015 international standards. This, along with its ‘Investor in People’ status, demonstrates its total commitment to delivering the highest quality products and service.

As one of the leading suppliers of parts for commercial vehicles, Roadlink, recently celebrating 35 years in business, currently promotes a comprehensive range of new and remanufactured brake calipers and brake shoes as well as an extensive range of pads, discs and drums.

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SMMT calls for “business as usual” interim arrangements to avoid cliff edge at UK Automotive Industry summit

At the SMMT’s International Summit held on Tuesday 20th June, the UK automotive industry called on government to seek an interim arrangement with the EU that would maintain membership of the single market and customs union until a final agreement on a new relationship with the EU is negotiated and implemented.

The sector accepts that the UK will leave the EU and fully supports a bespoke and comprehensive agreement on a new relationship with the EU. However, a final agreement would be hugely complex and it does not believe such a comprehensive agreement can be reached by March 2019 – just over 20 months’ time. Without agreed interim arrangements, businesses would be faced with the ‘cliff edge’ and forced to trade under the World Trade Organisation rules – the worst foreseeable outcome for the sector, its employees and the British economy.

Speaking as the sector announced its annual performance figures, SMMT said it was time to be pragmatic about what can be achieved in the time available and what the consequences would be if the UK left without a deal. The UK and EU automotive sectors are highly integrated and any new relationship will need to address tariff and non-tariff barriers, regulatory and labour issues, all of which will take time to negotiate.

The UK automotive industry has always maintained the importance of the EU to its prosperity. The EU is by far the UK’s biggest automotive export market, taking over half our finished vehicles, four times as many as our next biggest market. The sector already exports to over 160 different global markets and has a consistent approach to free trade. It needs that trade to be tariff-free, as frictionless as possible to support the ‘just in time’ manufacturing process and with consistent regulation.

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World’s first driverless bus to go into service

The world’s first driverless bus is set to go into service in China after it was revealed in the city of Zhuzhou recently.

The vehicle, which is effectively a hybrid of bus, tram and train, follows a pre-set route laid out by white dots on the road. Called the Autonomous Rapid Transit (ART) Smart Bus, operator CRRC says it combines the relatively low running costs of bus routes with the complexity and modularity of subway trains such as London’s Underground.

Image courtesy SMMT

The ART will follow the pre-set path using sensors in the passenger compartments which will pick up the white dots. ART will be marketed as an option for smaller to medium sized cities that cannot afford to invest in the infrastructure necessary to have a subway or tram system.

As the bus’s autonomous systems allow it to detect other vehicles, it will be able to share the road with them and will not need to be separated from commuter traffic. Initially, each ART vehicle will have a ‘driver’ on board to take over in case of emergencies, though the drive system uses cameras and radar to remain wholly autonomous.

ART buses are doubly articulated with three separate carriages, and will hold up to 300 passengers when they start operating in 2018, along a 6.5km route through central Zhuzhou.

The ART is completely electric, and will run for 25km on a 10 minute charge, which will be incorporated into the initial infrastructure via charging points at the ‘station’ end of the line, where the ART buses will also be stored overnight. The routes will be timetabled to allow rapid recharging of the buses with minimal inconvenience to passengers.

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British motorists buy more car parts, accessories and services online than cosmetics or groceries finds new research

The UK’s car servicing and repair sector grew again in 2016, with turnover rising 2.4% to £21.6 billion, according to figures released by the Society
of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Growth was primarily driven by sustained record numbers of new car registrations, and greater reliability, leading to more vehicles remaining on British roads for longer but still requiring regular servicing and maintenance. The increasing level of advanced technology in modern vehicles was also a major influencing factor.

New research, commissioned by SMMT from independent consultancy Frost & Sullivan, shows that in 2016, UK motorists increased their annual spending on car maintenance by 1.7% to an average of £707. This was due, in part, to the replacement of more high tech components, which require new skills and equipment to fit. While tyres, lubricants and filters are still the most commonly replaced items, the research shows that demand is rising fastest for telematics devices and tyre pressure monitoring sensors.

SMMT’s key figures on the UK automotive aftermarket

The performance figures highlight the sector’s significant contribution to the UK economy. In 2016, the UK automotive aftermarket, which includes parts makers, distributors, retailers and workshops, grew its contribution to the economy by 2.5% to £12.5 billion and created 1,400 new jobs. The total number of livelihoods supported by the sector now stands at some 347,000 – more than the population of Coventry.

The increasing digitalisation of cars and components presents challenges and opportunities to the sector as it strives to keep pace with advanced vehicle technology, data driven servicing and the changing needs of motorists. The research shows that British motorists are also leading the way in online car maintenance, with one of the fastest adoption rates in Europe. Last year, UK consumers bought a higher percentage of automotive parts, accessories and services online than they did cosmetics and groceries.1 Together they spent some £920 million on items such as tyres, brakes and batteries, and by 2022 this is forecast to rise by more than three quarters to £1.65 billion.

There is also consumer appetite for connected services such as vehicle health reports, fault detection and recall alerts, all of which make it easier to maintain cars. The research identifies growing interest in emerging forms of mobility such as car sharing schemes, forecast to attract some 2.3 million members worldwide by 2025, and e-hailing. Consumers are also increasingly turning to other digital services for their maintenance needs and online comparison websites, common in the insurance and finance sectors, are now entering the aftermarket. An estimated 100,000 people in the UK are currently using these sites to compare workshop offerings and prices, and this is set to grow significantly. This all makes clear the need for aftermarket companies to continue adapting their business models, and increasing their investment in mobile platforms to remain competitive.

As the number and age of vehicles on UK roads increases, by 2022 the UK automotive aftermarket is projected to be worth some £28 billion, with an employee base of 400,000.

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Autonomous boats to hit the water in 2017

The technologies required for autonomous shipping, such as sensors and GPS, already exist and aren’t the challenge for the industry, according to Rolls-Royce. The challenge is to find the optimum way to combine them reliably and cost effectively.

Rolls-Royce sees autonomous cargo ships as the future of the maritime industry

For example, software that can help vessels decide what actions to take off sensor and camera data is still being perfected, according to the company, and regulations have yet to catch up to what is already possible.

“To secure regulatory approval, as well as industry support and public acceptance, remote and autonomous ships will need to be at least as safe as existing vessels,” the company said in a study. “They have the potential to reduce human-based errors but at the same time new types of risks will arise and will need to be addressed.”

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