UK failing to enforce F-gas regulations

The Environmental Audit Committee has expressed concern that the Environment Agency is under-resourced and failing to adequately investigate “large levels of non-compliance” with the F-gas regulations.

The Audit Committee’s report, UK Progress on Reducing F-gas Emissions, published today, calls on the government to enforce the existing F-gas regulations and use its procurement power to promote products with a lower global warming impact.

Among the points in the report, the committee says it has heard concerns from industry and others that the Environment Agency – the body with responsibility for policing the F-gas regulation – was not adequately resourced to ensure compliance with the regulations.

Industry witnesses reported non-compliant items and activities being advertised online, highlighted UK ports as being a potential weakness in the regime, and that those flouting the regulations put businesses that did comply at a competitive disadvantage.

“We were disturbed to hear from industry and others that they suspect large levels of non compliance. We are concerned that the Environment Agency does not have the adequate resources to tackle this problem,” the committee reports.

The report also questions the low number of investigations. The Environment Agency said it had received 44 tip-offs since 2015 and monitored social media sites, such as Amazon and eBay. DEFRA noted that over the past 12 months the Environment Agency’s online surveillance had led to the removal of 198 banned products from sale and contact with 56 retailers that were not advising their customers of the requirement to hold certification when purchasing HFC refrigerants.

There has also only been one prosecution – and that from a company openly reporting its own breach of the regulations. In 2013, Schneider Electric was fined £3,000 after reporting the release of 15kg of SF6, an insulant used in high voltage switchgear.

“The low number of investigations and the single prosecution for a self-reported breach since the beginning of 2015, when the current F-gas Regulation came into effect, do not inspire confidence,” the Environmental Audit Committee reports.

“DEFRA and the Environment Agency should publish plans for monitoring non-compliance, especially on social media sites, and how they will ensure with HMRC that there are no weaknesses in the F-gas regime now and after the UK leaves the EU. Online sellers have the tools to end environmental criminality on their platforms. They should use them,” it says.

While the recently introduced civil penalties of up to £200,000 were likely to deter non-compliance and make prosecutions far easier, the Environmental Audit Committee expressed concern that prosecutions would be difficult without a properly resourced regime. In addition, it questioned the government’s decision not to retain more criminal sanctions, which would have added to the deterrence effect for non-compliance, especially for the worst offences. Only the deliberate release of F-gases remains a criminal offence.

“We recommend that the Government reviews the effectiveness of the F-gas compliance regime annually, indicating the actions it is taking, the resource it is assigning to such activities, the number of investigations carried out and the number of successful prosecutions achieved,” says the report.

Your Comments

Vauxhall Zafira fires face criminal investigation

A criminal investigation has been launched into Vauxhall Zafira fires, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has confirmed.

A Transport Committee report last year said the carmaker was too slow to begin a full investigation into fires affecting Zafira B models.

The DVSA has teamed up with Luton Borough Council’s trading standards officers to investigate Vauxhall.

Vauxhall is understood to be complying with the investigation.

The carmaker – which has its headquarters in Luton – says 92% of the affected models have been recalled.

An update report has recently been issued by the Transport Committee which confirmed that the DVSA has sought assurances from Vauxhall that it has a more robust process to deal with any current recalls. It is unable to discuss its handling of the Vauxhall Zafira recall process as it is part of a criminal investigation. Since the earlier TSC hearing, Vauxhall has been taken over by the French PSA Group. There has now been a complete change in personnel, who deal with recalls, within the Vauxhall part of the business. There is now a new but experienced team in place, who are working with DVSA to improve all aspects of recalls.

DVSA is investigating Vauxhall’s management of the recall through its account management process, which includes seeking answers to these, and other, questions. This is part of an ongoing investigation and we will report back to the Committee once this has concluded.

The apparent lack of notification regarding fires in recalled vehicles is one of a number of aspects of Vauxhall’s behaviour that DVSA is investigating, which will be reported to the TSC on conclusion.

DVSA has stated that Vauxhall’s remedial action is now satisfactory.

Your Comments

Counterfeit parts – IPO awareness campaign

Wendy Williamson, IAAF Chief Executive

Further to previous reports on the IAAF’s support for the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) campaign regarding counterfeit parts,  the IAAF has advised that it will be participating in a film to raise awareness of this subject and the campaign in general.

If any IAAF member in the Bristol or Newport, Gwent areas is interested in having their premises used as the location for the filming, they should get in touch with the IAAF Office for more details.

Your Comments

GDPR – Legitimate Interest is your friend

IAAF legal helpline provider Lawgistics have advised that the ICO have now produced a document which confirms that legitimate interest is a business-friendly ground for processing data.

As previously advised, business do not need to jump through the consent hoops and reviews to continue to market to existing customers. For example, garages can continue to send MOT reminders to their customer base as long as they offer the customer the option to opt out in every email or text. Further, it is absolutely fine to take a customer’s details and call them back – no separate consent is required, the customer has called you and so is expecting a call back.

The trick to staying on the right side of legitimate interest is to consider the 3 part test, which in plain English requires you to consider:

  1. why do you want to process the data in question?
  2. will processing the data help you achieve your purpose and is there a less intrusive way to achieve it?
  3. would the data subject reasonably expect you to be using their data in this way?

As examples:

  • An employer may ask for next of kin details from their employee so they know who to contact in an emergency. There is no need to ask the individual next of kin for their consent to hold their personal data as it is not unreasonable for such details to be held for health and safety reasons. There is no less intrusive way to be able to contact a relative after an emergency, the impact is minimal and only the line manager and Directors will have the details.
  • A business has a problem customer and seeks help from Lawgistics. The business is entitled to seek specialist legal advice and only provides the customer data relative to the case. It is entirely reasonable for a business to seek advice and the customer’s details are looked after by Lawgistics who are GDPR compliant meaning there is minimal risk to the customer.

The key is giving the matter some thought. If it can reasonably be justified, then legitimate interest is your ground of choice – much less hassle and for marketing to existing customers, more likely to keep your marketing list alive as asking for consent may well end up with a limited response.

In summary, legitimate interest is your friend but like all good friendships, it shouldn’t be abused.

Your Comments

Spring Trade Show triumph for The Parts Alliance

The event was held on Thursday 19th April at The Chateau Impney Hotel’s Exhibition Centre in Droitwich Spa. As the UK basked in sunshine and record-breaking April temperatures, garages resisted warm weather temptations and turned out in record numbers.

“We had over 450 customers of Bromsgrove Motor Factors, CES and GSF Car Parts attending,” said Simon Moore, Head of Marketing at The Parts Alliance. “Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, many visitors were still there until past 10pm as we finally started to pack away the stands.”

Attractions included 57 supplier stands, showcasing the brightest and best in parts, tools, equipment, consumables and professional services. Many had ‘on the night only’ special offers.

The event achieved a relaxed blend of business and pleasure. With most coming down after work, the aisles were thronging by 7pm. Many sought out suppliers on their stands, whilst others caught up over free refreshments, provided by Purflux and DriveTec.

Informative technical seminars were delivered by Bosch, Comma, Schaeffler and Our Virtual Academy, as each looked at different challenges and opportunities created by sophisticated new vehicle technologies.

The night closed with a prize draw. A diverse range of gifts, generously donated by suppliers, proved to be the icing on the cake for around 20 winning customers.

“I’d like to thank customers who attended for their tremendous support and of course our suppliers who invested time and effort to demonstrate the huge range of market-leading products and services available from The Parts Alliance,” said Simon Moore.

2018 is proving to be a busy year already for the group. Several new branch openings have been successfully completed to enhance network coverage. Further trade shows are planned too, interested garages are advised to look out for details from their local branch.

Your Comments

Autoelectro and CAAR agree supply deal

Autoelectro is pleased to announce that it has won ‘approved supplier’ status with motor factor and accessory retailer, CAAR.

The move means the Bradford-based remanufacturer’s rotating electrics programme of starter motors and alternators has been recommended to its 350 local independent members, and customers will be able to choose from its full remanufacturing programme of more than 4,000 individual references and recently-launched, surcharge-free non-exchange (NEX) units. Combined, Autoelectro now has 110,000 applications listed for its range.

Over recent months, Autoelectro has revised the surcharge structure for its full remanufacturing programme, where some of its faster-moving references have had their surcharges cut entirely; however, the less popular part numbers still have a surcharge due to the high-value and scarcity of the old core.

To coincide with the new pricing strategy, Autoelectro will be liaising closely with its customers, including those within CAAR, to assist them in utilising its recently-launched Active Inventory Management System – or AIMS – package, which can be accessed online at www.autoelectro.co.uk.

It provides full transparency on outstanding old core and will help identify slow-moving stock or part numbers that are no longer selling, which can then be replaced with faster-moving references, ensuring maximum profitability from stocked products.

These recent developments have cemented Autoelectro’s status as the UK’s largest independent remanufacturer and supplier of starter motors and alternators.

Managing Director of Autoelectro, Tony Bhogal, said: “Having held discussions with senior staff at CAAR, we have agreed a competitive package for its members, to ensure they and their workshop customers receive the best value-for-money but premium quality product available.

“CAAR members will have access to the best range and availability of rotating electrics, along with a free next working-day AM delivery.”

CAAR Joint Managing Director, David Owen, said: “We are delighted to welcome Autoelectro on-board as an approved CAAR supplier, and the appointment has been warmly welcomed by CAAR members, many of whom were already using them for their rotating electrics.

“I have known Tony Bhogal and Autoelectro for many years and, when the opportunity arose to reach a group deal for our members, it was a very easy decision. The quality of the product, together with the large range of surcharge-free units available, makes it an ideal fit with CAAR members and we look forward to a long and fruitful relationship.”

Your Comments

Companies urged to prepare now for a low emission future or risk losing business

Van and truck operators could lose out to more forward-thinking competitors if they don’t start investigating the potential for ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) on their fleets, Government officials have warned.

The call to action comes as an increasing number of diesel alternatives are being developed, offering reduced emissions in response to environmental challenges and the roll out of clean air zones (CAZs) in the UK, which could see some fleet vehicles banned from town and city centres if they don’t update their vehicles to cut carbon pollution.

The Government, through Innovate UK, is trying to kick-start the journey to a green future among van and truck fleets with a £20 million initiative to develop new technology and vehicles through its Low Emission Freight and Logistics Trial, launched in January 2017.

Venn Chesterton, ultra-low emission vehicle innovation lead at Innovate UK, cautioned that it was important for fleets to carry out assessments and trials now, to avoid falling behind in the clean air race.

He said: “There could be a point where clean air zones are introduced, or customers demand goods are delivered by electric vehicle and that could happen very quickly.

“In these circumstances, if your competitors have experience with ultra-low emission vehicles, such as electric vehicles, or operate them, then that puts them ahead.

“Some forward-thinking companies are already picking this up and running with it. If you don’t do this then, in a few years’ time, a company could find itself at a competitive disadvantage.”

Under the trial, 20 companies are developing initiatives for innovative ways to deploy low- and zero-emission vehicle technology.

Several trials are already taking place and all of them will be live by this September, although Chesterton said that the real focus will be on the data when all trials are completed in a year’s time.

He said: “Everything is going along as planned, with all projects on track to have started by the end of the summer.

“For Innovate UK, starting is not the sole focus, we are most interested in the results after vehicles have been operated for a full year.

“Analysis will look at how they are used, how many miles they cover and establish a baseline against equivalent diesel vehicles. With that you get a change in emissions, where we are targeting a reduction.”

Freight accounts for about 30% of the UK’s CO2 transport emissions, so there is pressure to develop supply and demand around low emission options for the industry.

To establish a level playing field for assessment, vehicles will be put through standardised tests at Millbrook Proving Ground that closely reflect freight and logistics operating cycles, covering usage ranging from urban and rural areas to trunk roads.

The real-world view of operators is also being assessed, Chesterton said.

Operators and managers will be interviewed at depots to understand issues such as driver attitudes, downtime, operational restrictions and fuel savings.

Chesterton added: “We are trying to understand their views in the real world, so some interviews might be carried out at refuelling stations.

“Success will be getting results from the technology. The Government has a technology-neutral approach, but it can signal to market what has done well.

“We can provide the market with a definition of what a low-emission truck looks like, so that we can provide clarity to the market.

“We will also be able to provide the scale of the benefit. For example, a gas truck might be 10% more efficient, while an electric truck could be 50% more efficient and this unified approach would help inform future incentives.”

The Low Emission Freight and Logistics Trial programme complements initiatives such as LoCity, along with a broad range of other initiatives designed to promote efficiency in the logistics sector.

These include the Freight Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS), a voluntary accreditation scheme with 4,800 members that promotes best practice for commercial vehicle operators, and the ECO Stars fleet recognition scheme, a free initiative that aims to help fleet operators improve efficiency, reduce fuel consumption and emissions and make cost savings.

Chesterton said: “The Low Emission Freight and Logistics Trial is taking a dual approach, with real-world trials and analysis, so that in a year’s time we will have a really good understanding of the vehicles and their real-world performance.

“Some of these technologies are at a late stage of development.”

In total, around 300 vehicles will be involved in the trial.

Key projects

ULEMCo (Liverpool) – hydrogen
Trial of a range of vehicles with hydrogen dual-fuel technology (H2ICED).

Tevva Motors (Chelmsford) – electric
A fleet-wide pilot to prove new battery range extending technology and develop a universal battery cassette.

Air Liquide Group (Kingston-upon-Thames) – gas
Trial of gas HGVs ranging from 26 tonnes to 44 tonnes, including biogas.

UPS (Feltham) – electric
Implement smart charging system that, together with an energy storage system, will allow UPS to exceed the current maximum number of vehicles to be charged in a depot.

Gnewt Cargo (Southwark) – electric
Leasing electric vehicles to perform last mile logistics.

G-volution (Newport) – gas
Trial of dual fuel (diesel/methane) road vehicles, looking at engine combustion control, computer-based engine modelling and methane catalysts.

Magnomatics (Sheffield) – hybrid
Trial of 18-tonne trucks with plug-in hybrid electric vehicle powertrains.

Kuehne + Nagel (Wellingborough) gas, dual-fuel and electric
Trials of dedicated gas and direct injection dual-fuel methane/diesel trucks along with electric trucks.

Zapinamo (Soho) – electric
A trial of movable, connected, power-boosting electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

Lawrence David (Peterborough) – lightweight vehicles
Project to design and build lightweight aerodynamic double-deck trailers.

CNG Fuels (Solihull) – gas
Trial of dedicated gas HGVs to demonstrate their suitability for large scale roll-out.

Howdens Joinery Group (Northampton) – electric
Evaluation of a kinetic energy recovery system (Kers) for urban delivery vehicles, including both articulated and rigid vehicles.

Your Comments

Companies need to ensure grey fleet drivers stay safe and legal, the AA has urged

Employers, fleet and HR managers should be exercising their duty of care to help their grey fleets to stay safe and legal when driving for work, says the AA.

Lex Autolease’s Report on Motoring found that approximately 14 million drivers use their own vehicles for work in the UK, but many employers are unaware of their duty of care to these employees.

If an employee is involved in a fatal collision while using their own vehicle then an organisation can be prosecuted for corporate manslaughter, but a survey last year by Grosvenor Leasing found that nearly half of fleet managers consider grey fleet management ‘unimportant’.

Stuart Thomas, director of fleet and SME services at the AA said: “Driving is the most dangerous activity for most workers during office hours, but if your contractor were to have an accident while out on business, would you know who was liable?”

The AA added it is also vital for drivers to understand the importance of responsive and responsible driving, including the correct use of technology such as sat navs.

Government guidelines say drivers should control sat navs which are not built into the car only via a Bluetooth headset, voice command, a dashboard holder or mat or windscreen mount.

Thomas added: “Employers and HR managers can share essential information and guidance to help drivers to stay safe and legal on the road within a driver’s handbook, which should be issued to all employees who drive for work.

“This should also note actions drivers should take in the event of an incident in support of the company’s policies and procedures, and is a good place to include information on the prohibition of alcohol and drug use while driving.”

Your Comments

ECCO Safety Group EMEA has announced the appointment of a new Head of Business Development for the UK and Ireland, Steve Jones

ECCO Safety Group has appointed Steve Jones as their new Head of Business Development for the ECCO and OE business for the UK and Ireland.

Steve has previously worked in the Commercial Vehicle aftermarket for over 29 years, beginning in 1989 with TTC. He gained experience in several roles including Customer Services, marketing and technical sales, before moving to axle, braking and suspension supplier Meritor. Steve worked for Brigade Electronics for a number of years where he was responsible for the UK Trucks OES programs, major wholesalers and many European distributors. Latterly he has been with First Line in Banbury as Head of Commercial Vehicle, responsible for the development of the Borg & Beck CV proposition.

“We are confident that Steve will take ECCO, our safety solution brand into the next level of growth and will move the brand forward with the speed required to capitalise on the opportunities in front of us”, states Roy McClarty, General Manager for UK & Ireland at ESG EMEA.

“I am really looking forward to joining the ESG team at such an exciting time in the company’s growth and meeting new and old customers in the coming months”, said Steve Jones.

Your Comments

Autoparts Garage Equipment gives NTDA winner Kimberley tools for succe

Since being crowned 2017 NTDA Tyre Technician Apprentice of the Year, Kimberley Locker has been reaping the benefits of her industry win. Prize sponsor Autoparts Garage Equipment, leading automotive equipment supplier, reflects on her achievement to date as she offers some inspiring advice for young apprentices.

Since winning the award, Kimberley has been promoted to Assistant Manager and is now based in the STS Tyre Pros depot in Aylesbury. She was also delighted with her Matco tool box, donated by Autoparts Garage Equipment and is already putting it to good use.

Describing her win as “an amazing feeling”, she said that she “felt honoured and proud”, proving to herself that all the hard work she had put in over the previous two years had paid off and been acknowledged.

Kimberley said: “When I first started my apprenticeship I wasn’t 100% sure it was the field of work that I wanted to be in, but it didn’t take me long to realise that I was in the right place and in the right hands. I completed my apprenticeship early, after receiving some fantastic training, and went on to become the assistant manager of the (Aylesbury) centre I was based in.”

Her passion for apprenticeship schemes has come as a result of her own experience, which she credits as fuelling her personal development by helping her grow. She has since delivered several presentations at her old secondary school, to encourage pupils to consider apprenticeships after they finish their studies as a promising career option.

Kimberley explained: “I also urged the girls not to be afraid to enter a male dominated industry, as you can still thrive and be the best if you’re female!
“In the future I hope to be involved with looking after and assessing apprentices because I want to help young people become the best version of themselves and help inspire a positive attitude towards women in the motor industry. I truly believe that a decent apprenticeship is the most powerful way to teach young people coming into this trade from school and I want to be involved with that as much as possible!”

Autoparts Garage Equipment is one of the UK’s largest garage equipment companies and was established in 1996. It is involved with the sales, installation and servicing of a vast range of garage equipment and workshop tools including vehicle lifts, MOT equipment, tyre changers, emission testers and wheel balancers.

John Mcardle, Autoparts Garage Equipment Division General Manager, said: “We were delighted to present Kimberley with her very own Matco tool box and she deserves every success. It’s fantastic that she has excelled since winning the award, and we’ve no doubt that she’ll be a positive role model, not just to young people considering an apprenticeship in the field, but also to young women wanting to carve out a career in a male-dominated profession.”

Your Comments