Online ‘Industry Briefing Bitesize’ proves successful

The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) has brought its very first online ‘Industry Briefing Bitesize’ to aftermarket professionals, providing them with an informative insight into the continued growth of electric vehicles (EVs), as well as giving an update on ongoing IAAF activity.

Mike Smallbone, head of membership development at IAAF, kicked off the proceedings, welcoming members as they joined, before introducing Steve Carter from Train4Auto Consultancy, who delved into the increasing demand for cleaner vehicles.

Carter spoke of how the effects of the pandemic has led to a dramatic improvement in air quality as a result of the significant reduction in NOx, and how this will accelerate momentum for electric and hybrid vehicles. Carter acknowledged that less than 10 percent of garages in the UK are equipped to work on these vehicles and is calling on the aftermarket to embrace this form of technology sooner rather than later.

Even before lockdown, sales of EVs were amplifying, making up 35 percent of all UK car sales in March alone, and with governments across Europe making huge investments into clean energy, Carter warned that this trend is set to continue.

Carter said: “As an industry, we need to take the rise of electric vehicle sales seriously and view it as an opportunity. Change is inevitable and it’s important that the supply chain plans accordingly sooner rather than later, as we’re beginning to see justifiable benefits as a result of the effect Covid-19 has had on the environment.

“Technology is constantly evolving, and the industry needs to keep up to speed, which is why new training will be available to ensure technicians can safely service electric vehicles, while developing their skillset.”

Wendy Williamson, IAAF chief executive, then addressed members, highlighting IAAF’s current activity, including the recent good news that the government have launched a consultation for the MOT extension to end.

Williamson also discussed how the IAAF welcomes the proposed adoption by the UK government of the forthcoming Type Approval legislation, which would ensure the OBD port would remain open for repair and maintenance information. Work is also continuing on the forthcoming Block Exemption renewal, due in 2023, which is absolutely vital for the sector, as it underpins our right to repair vehicles from new and to fit parts of OE matching quality.

More information was also provided on how IAAF is building a consensus against an overall scrappage scheme, before Smallbone spoke about member communication and gave an update on membership activity for the second part of 2020. This includes Hannah Lyon-Wall from Financial & Credit IS, who will update members on the impact Covid-19 is having on the credit insurance market. Members will also experience an exciting addition to the range of benefits, provided by Fin Cred IS.

An open forum then followed, whereby members could engage with one another and the key speakers to discuss how the coronavirus has affected their business, as well as pose any questions on the topics discussed.

Smallbone added: “It was great to see so many members come together and embrace our ‘new look’ Industry Briefings, and we’re really pleased with how smoothly the ‘event’ went. It’s important that we continue to engage face to face with members in whatever format necessary to keep them updated on the latest goings on in the industry, and it’s a real positive that these online sessions can enable us to continue to do so.”

The next event will take place on 23rd July with Quentin Le Hetet, general manager of GiPA UK.

Members can register their interest for the event by emailing [email protected], who will then send over more information.

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New IAAF web platform

The IAAF is delighted to announce that our popular website is moving  to a new platform.  As a result it will be necessary for members to resubscribe themselves to the ‘members only’ area.

Information is being sent out to members today giving them details of how to resubscribe, so please do check Spam and Junk mailboxes to ensure that you don’t miss this important email.

The ‘members only’ section of the website has been designed to make it easier to gain insightful material and services, such as HR Manager Lite, a free legal helpline and access to Alternative Dispute resolution, reflecting the professional and supportive services IAAF provides.

The IAAF will regularly update its website to ensure members are up-to-speed with any developments; and they should continue to send in the latest company news so that it can be posted to the new website to [email protected].

The IAAF would like to thank the membership for its continued support.

If you experience any problems in resubscribing to the IAAF please contact the office on 0121 748 4600 or email [email protected].

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IAAF Annual Conference & Awards Dinner 2020

It is with deep regret that, given the exceptional circumstances we are currently facing, the IAAF Board has reached the decicion that the Conference and Dinner, scheduled for 3rd December this year, should be postponed for the foreseeable future. It was felt that to plan for such a large event, given that restrictions are only being lifted very slowly, would be foolhardy, and it has been decided not to go ahead.

However, the good news is that the IAAF is trying to re-create some form of ‘event’ during the day of 3rd December, possibly with some of the members being able to attend in person. Naturally, this will of course be subject to the prevailing social distancing requirements in place at that time. The IAAF will make an announcement later in the year with more details, but for the time being, please keep the date pencilled in your diary.

The IAAF would like to thank all those who usually attend or sponsor the event. Their support and understanding is very much appreciated.

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Survey reveals 50 percent of garages operating at half capacity

More than 50 percent of automotive garages in the UK are running at half their normal capacity, according to a survey carried out by automotive aftermarket PR and marketing agency Impression.

The survey of garages was conducted to assess the current state of the marketplace as restrictions to halt the spread of the coronavirus ease.

The survey also found that 56 percent of garages are operating with a reduced workforce with the remainder of staff on the government’s furlough scheme.

In relation to government support, 87 percent of all garage respondents have received financial support.

The survey asked what social distancing measures had been put in place and 85 percent are carrying out vehicle sanitisation, while 73 percent of garages are offering Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for staff and customers.

Areas of work were also explored by the survey, with repairs being the largest part of the business, followed by servicing and then MOTs.

Thirty percent of garages were also buying more parts online and seeing motorists do the same, with some garages pointing to a breakdown in communication with their parts suppliers.

On the subject of sales visits, 53 percent of garages were not accepting a visit and 31 percent of garages were accepting visits but only with an appointment.

Finally, when asked if they would be confident with dealing with the increased level of MOTs when the extension ends, 72 percent of garages said yes.

Mark Field, Impression director, said: “The survey shows a more gradual return to normality for the automotive aftermarket and also highlights just how tough it has been for garages throughout the UK. Garages have also been very effective in putting in place social distancing measures to protect both employees and customers. With confidence growing, the sector is more than able to cope with an increase in MOT demand when the extension ends.”

Impression is holding “Communication surgeries” for companies during the Covid-19 outbreak. The surgeries are open daily, including weekends. Those interested simply need to post a question on any of Impression’s social media feeds below or contact Mark Field on email [email protected]

The PR agency is also sharing best practice for businesses operating in the automotive aftermarket via its social media platforms.

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ECOBAT brings start-stop training to the fore

Following the successful launch of its ONE BOX start-stop battery testing and installation solution at Automechanika Birmingham last June, ECOBAT Battery Technologies (ECOBAT), has further developed its offering with the release of a free start-stop battery training, assessment and certification.

The first element is a comprehensive, but easy to follow YouTube video, hosted by ECOBAT’s very own Christopher Jones – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EyAwPUAljWA&t=1s – which provides viewers with a step-by-step guide that takes them through the assessment, removal, replacement and validation processes and introduces them to the four parts that make up the ONE BOX package, and together, allows technicians to tackle start-stop battery replacement with confidence.

Once they have viewed the video, technicians can now undertake the online assessment – https://ebtuk.typeform.com/to/S8AOWi – which covers not just the removal and installation process, but information concerning the battery and the start-stop system, to discover whether they have achieved the necessary score to have passed.

Due to the importance of following the correct procedure, the assessment has a low margin for error, but provided the technician has demonstrated they have the understood and crucially, can replicate the process, they will pass and can move onto certification.

By visiting the ECOBAT website – https://uk.ecobat.tech/brands/one-box/one-box-assessment – the successful applicant is then able to download their certificate in a choice of branded Lucas, Numax or multiple (joint Exide/Lucas/Numax/VARTA) or non-aligned formats. They are then in a position to put into practice their new found knowledge to the benefit of motorist and workshop alike.

The Video in Detail
The donor vehicle for the video demonstration is a 2011 VW Passat BlueMotion Tech diesel and the first step is to carry out an assessment of the condition of the battery, for which Chris uses the ECOBAT EBT780 battery test tool. This vital piece of equipment allows users to understand the true condition of the battery and as the onscreen result can be printed and given to the owner, it’s easy to demonstrate whether it needs to be replaced or is still fit for purpose.

Battery testing is a principle that ECOBAT recommends technicians conduct on every vehicle that enters the workshop because battery related issues are still the most common cause of vehicle breakdown. Therefore, irrespective of what the vehicle is originally booked in for or whether it is or isn’t equipped with a start-stop function, testing provides an instant sales opportunity.

If the battery has failed the test and needs to be replaced, then the next tools required from the ONE BOX kit are the charger and the OBD port connector lead, which together provide a supply feed of power to the vehicle’s electrical systems when the battery is disconnected and removed, and ensures that any memory functions are not lost or have to be re-entered at the conclusion of the work.

Naturally, whether the vehicle is fitted with a start-stop system, which will require either an absorbent glass mat (AGM) or enhanced flooded battery (EFB), or is designed for a traditional SLI (starter, lights and ignition) version, identifying the correct replacement for the application is paramount. In order to do so, technicians simply need to enter the vehicle’s registration number into the ECOBAT battery finder – https://batteryfinder.ecobat.tech/ – and the appropriate battery from VARTA, Lucas or Numax will be shown, along with its fitting times and installation instructions.

Once the supply feed has been established, removal of the battery begins by disconnecting the lead to the negative terminal, followed by the positive, whereas installation of the replacement starts first with the connection of the positive lead and then the negative.

Although some start-stop equipped vehicles are fitted with a self-diagnosing system and do not require the replacement AGM or EFB battery to be validated, many popular vehicles from 24 manufacturers do, which is where the final tool in the ONE BOX package, the EBT420 validation tool, comes into play.

With the new battery installed, the charger and OBD connector can be removed and the EBT420 validation tool plugged into the OBD port to begin introducing the new battery into the vehicle’s battery management system and returning the charging algorithms to their default settings, as well as turning off the dashboard warning lights. The process is very straightforward as the tool does the work because after inputting the brand and part number, the technician is led through a series of screens that simply needs them to authorise each step to ensure the system is correctly set and the battery performs as it should.

As Chris states at the conclusion of the video, “replacing AGM and EFB batteries is as simple as that”, which is the key message workshops need to grasp to unlock the massive potential still available to independents up and down the country.

For further details, please contact ECOBAT Battery Technologies on: 01743 218500 or visit: www.ecobat.tech

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TecAlliance introduces TecDoc VIN Catalogue – Truck

Despite the prevalence of vehicle manufacturer (VM) derived electronic parts catalogues (EPC), they generally rely on a variety of search methods to identify a replacement part, which for wholesalers and CV workshops servicing and repairing multi-brand fleets, makes the identification process time consuming, laborious and not cost-effective.

“In order to solve this problem, TecAlliance, the organisation behind the renowned TecDoc Catalogue, which is widely recognised as Europe’s leading replacement parts identification solution, has developed the TecDoc VIN Catalogue – Truck, a commercial vehicle (CV) specific resource that simplifies and unifies the search process for fast moving items for the main seven brands,” explains Key Account Manager for UK and Ireland, Jason Meade.

“We have determined which parts should be listed by analysing existing data to find the most popular searches and by basing its criteria on the vehicle identification number (VIN), TecDoc VIN Catalogue – Truck users can identify the exact vehicle for which the part is required without relying on a VM specific EPC, this not only saves time by not having to switch between catalogues, but makes the search method consistent.

“In addition, as TecDoc VIN Catalogue – Truck is an online system, it can naturally be incorporated into an existing website to provide a fully integrated e-commerce solution, which enhances the user experience and increases online ordering and paperless transactions, and further contributes to business efficiencies.”

Based in Uxbridge, Greater London, DB Auto Consultancy is an early adopter of the solution. When asked about TecDoc VIN Catalogue – Truck, proprietor, Dave Burgess enthused: “The biggest single benefit that the TecDoc Catalogue has brought my business, is significantly reducing the returns, which has naturally increased our overall efficiencies.

“As all wholesalers will be very aware, part returns and the problems they create, as well as the costs they subject a business to, are some of the fundamental issues when it comes to profitability, particularly in an industry as fiercely competitive as ours and with such small profit margins.

“The specific nature of the search criteria, combined with the accuracy of the data in the TecDoc VIN Catalogue – Truck, allows us to precisely identify the correct replacement item, which means, for example, that we don’t have to supply more than one part reference to cover the possible options.

“The system uses the VIN and is easy to use and reliable, as this method identifies the precise vehicle and the associated original equipment part numbers for its various components. From this information, TecDoc’s official data suppliers match their products, which allows us, as a catalogue user, to choose the ideal replacement part for our customers, from a broad range of suppliers.

“Just as part returns are the thing that we as a wholesaler want to minimise, from our customers’ perspective, vehicle downtime is the biggest threat to their profitability, because a stranded vehicle simply becomes a cost. So, being able to quickly identify the correct part from a choice of suppliers, allows us to source the replacement in the shortest timeframe and reduce the period the vehicle is out of service.

For more information concerning the TecDoc VIN Catalogue – Truck, or about TecAlliance in general, please contact Jason Meade on: 01268 572009 or email: [email protected]

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LKQ Europe sees continuous recovery across business

“After a significant slump in the spare parts business at the beginning of April, the market will not return to its former level so quickly, but we are seeing continuous recovery of the workshop business in all our markets,” said Arnd Franz, CEO of LKQ Europe, the largest independent distributor of automotive spare parts in Europe.

“It has proven to be a good move that we prepared for the crisis as early as January, following all recommendations to protect our employees and customers. At the same time, we quickly implemented consistent cost-cutting measures and have succeeded in adapting almost all cost structures given the Covid-related decrease in sales revenue. A special thanks goes to our approximately 27,000 employees in Europe,” Franz emphasized.

“Even in the deepest crisis to hit our industry in decades, we were able to fully maintain our ability to deliver to our customers and, on the other hand, make our company crisis-proof,” continued Franz. “We have consistently taken measures to emerge from this crisis stronger than before.” Franz underlined the solid financial position of LKQ Europe, which has continued to make investments during the crisis.

“As planned, we will complete the construction of our new logistics center in the Netherlands at the end of the year and put it into operation from the beginning of 2021,” explained Franz. “This will allow us to further strengthen the largest logistics network in the Independent Automotive Aftermarket. Additionally, we are also consistently driving digitalization and sustainability forward. In the future, LKQ Europe will accept more responsibility.”

At the same time, the integration of LKQ’s European companies continues. “The crisis has shown us the advantages of closer cooperation,” highlighted Franz. He commented that despite the necessary focus on business operations during the crisis, the ‘1 LKQ Europe’ integration strategy continues to progress as planned. “Our integration program will help us reduce complexities, pool our strengths, and work together more efficiently, including with our customers and suppliers. In this way, we will consolidate our leading competitive position even after the Covid-19 crisis.”

At the beginning of June, the first European personnel development program was launched, which provides focused training and career paths for specialists and managers, making LKQ Europe even more attractive as an employer.

LKQ Corporation, parent company of LKQ Europe, has come through the Covid-19 crisis better than expected. To date, revenue is tracking ahead of internal expectations, with second quarter parts and services organic revenue down approximately 25% when compared to the same quarter in 2019, with April and May monthly revenues down approximately 30% and 20%, respectively.

“Every business unit has seen sales increases week after week since mid-April,” said Nick Zarcone, President and CEO of LKQ Corporation. “We have exceeded our internal revenue projections, which positively impacts the strength of our business and the performance of our team in this challenging operating environment. Given the reopening of the markets in recent weeks, we are cautiously optimistic that we can use this momentum to close the quarter strongly.”

The savings have helped LKQ Corporation post both a positive operating result and positive cash flow in April and May of 2020. This allowed the company to repay $250 million in loans and secure its liquidity. At the end of May 2020, LKQ Corporation had $2.2 billion in liquidity.

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Exol’s Andy Hague receives Police commendation for life-saving act

Andy Hague, Exol Lubricants maintenance manager at its Rotherham site, has received the high honour of a District Commander’s Commendation, after rescuing a lady experiencing mental health difficulties from the canal, adjacent to the Exol site.

Andy raised the alarm when he noticed “ripples in the water” and along with other Exol colleagues, passed her the life ring, but because of the height of the tow path, she was unable to be safely lifted out at that time.

Andy maintained close communication with the lady and thanks to further assistance from the emergency services including Police, paramedics and the Fire Brigade, she was successfully lifted out of the water.

Andy said: “I never asked to be put in that situation but I’m just so thankful we were able to help and support the lady. The Exol team and emergency services were incredible and I also want to raise awareness of the support we need to show mental health services, who are facing unprecedented demand during this time.”

Andy collected the award with his partner Nicola Milne on Monday 8th June from South Yorkshire Police Chief Superintendent, Una Jennings, who said: “You truly exemplify humanity at its best – a remarkable person helping a stranger in crisis. Honour comes with assisting and saving someone’s life, having the perception and courage to step up.”

Steve Dunn, Exol sales and marketing director, added: “The thoughts of the entire Exol family are with the lady involved in the incident and we are extremely proud of Andy’s intervention. The situation could have been much worse and so we are thankful that everybody is safe and receiving the support they need.”

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Apec guarantee extended to three-years/36,000 miles

Apec has extended its product guarantee from two-year/24,000 mile to a market leading three-year/36,000 mile ‘no quibble’ guarantee.

Apec technical manager, Graeme Ryder said: “Our aim at Apec has been to offer the customer unrivalled quality, service and support and it’s important we reflect that with a guarantee that matches our confidence in performance.”

The move comes hot off the heels of Apec’s June release of 22-part numbers bringing the total to over 7500 in range.

Apec continues to support motor factors and workshops with its Techmate service offering full technical support including best practice for installation and application specific queries.

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Milestone for Melksham Motor Spares’ Managing Director

Amid the challenges facing us all at the current time, it was a moment of light relief this week to mark the milestone anniversary of Melksham Motor Spares’ Managing Director, Phil Dodd, who joined the company as a Saturday boy 30 years ago.

Celebrations were understandably lower key than the company would have hoped, but Phil was still surprised with a fantastic cake and a very large celebration banner.

Melksham’s Finance Director, Alison Cook, said: “We couldn’t let this fantastic achievement go by without acknowledgement. Phil has given his everything to the company and the outpouring of good wishes and support on our social media platforms from staff, customers and his peers, is testament to how well respected and liked Phil is.

“After 30 years, his knowledge of the industry and commitment to MMS is second to none, and I’m proud to work alongside him. Here’s to the next 30 years!”

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