‘Connected & Digital Technology Zone’ to highlight industry innovations at Automechanika Birmingham

Automechanika Birmingham will host the Connected & Digital Technology Zone on stand 6B11 with The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) demonstrating the latest cutting-edge automotive technologies throughout the event from 6–8 June 2017.

The area, found in the supply chain zone, will feature the latest products set to enable the design, development and manufacture of future vehicles.
Visitors will have access to the most up-to-date technological information and solutions including virtual and augmented reality, as well as brand new vehicles and robotics.

Automechanika Birmingham 2016

The vast array of interactive elements that can be found in the zone will include the new Range Rover Velar from Jaguar Land Rover, the Kuka robot from REECO andthe Vive virtual reality headset allowing visitors to look at the interior of a virtual car brought along by Optis. Semcon will bring HoloLens augmented reality glasses to present a new solution to deliver service information to the automotive workshop, demonstrated with a Range Rover Evoque.

Warwick Manufacturing Group will have an innovative technology demonstrator on hand from the DELIVER-E project in the form of an electric delivery vehicle prototype based on the body of a Renault Twizy, while Nottingham University will display its facial recognition software whereby the emotions of the driver are captured and shown via a graph on screen.

Meanwhile, both Renishaw and Adient will be showcasing their newest technologies with the former introducing an additively manufactured metal car component on stand, and the latter demonstrating its advanced seating commodities.

Simon Albert, event director of Automechanika Birmingham, said: “With technology developing at a rapid rate and showing no signs of slowing down, the Connected & Digital Technology Zone is one of the most exciting attractions at the event. We are looking forward to showcasing the future of the automotive industry to visitors and the many benefits available as we move forward together.”

Visitors looking for a chance to update their knowledge, network with new and existing contacts and discover the benefits of new automotive technology can register free for the event by CLICKING HERE.

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Autonomous refuse truck begins live trials

A Swedish waste and recycling company has begun trials of a fully autonomous dustbin lorry, which it claims will increase the safety and environmental benefits of weekly waste collections.

The truck, which is being tested in Gothenburg by waste and recycling operator Renova, attains autonomy by first being driven on a refuse collection route manually and then ‘remembering’ the route.

As a result, the truck knows when to start, stop, turn and reverse, allowing operatives to go about the task of waste collection without having to continually jump on and off the truck.

The system, developed by Volvo Trucks in conjunction with Renova, uses similar autonomous systems to those fitted in an autonomous tipper the truck maker developed for the Kristineberg stone mine last November.

The first time the automated refuse truck is used in a new area, it is driven manually while the on-board system constantly monitors and maps the route with the help of sensors and GPS technology. The next time the truck enters the same area, it knows exactly which route to follow and at which bins it has to stop.

At the first stop with the automated system activated, the driver climbs out of the cab, goes to the rear of the truck, brings out the wheelie-bin and empties it in exactly the way the job is done today. When the operation is completed, the truck automatically reverses to the next bin upon receiving the driver’s command. The driver walks the very same route that the truck takes and thus always has full view of what’s happening in the direction of travel.

“By reversing the truck, the driver can constantly remain close to the compactor unit instead of having to repeatedly walk between the rear and the cab every time the truck is on the move,” said Hans Zachrisson, Strategic Development Manager at Renova. “And since the driver doesn’t have to climb in and out of the cab at every start and stop, there’s less risk of work related injuries such as strain on the knees and other joints.”

Reversing is otherwise a fairly risky manoeuvre since the driver may find it difficult to see who or what is moving behind the vehicle – even if it is fitted with a camera. Since sensors monitor the area all around the refuse truck, if the street is blocked by a parked car, the refuse truck can automatically drive around the obstruction provided there is sufficient space alongside. The automated systems also optimise gear changes, steering and speed, meaning fuel consumption and emissions can be reduced.

The project will continue until the end of 2017 and will be followed by an extremely thorough evaluation of functionality, safety and how well the vehicle is accepted by drivers, waste operatives, other road users and local residents.

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World’s largest biogas bus fleet enters service in Nottingham

The biggest fleet of biogas powered buses in the world has gone into service in Nottingham this week.

The £17m fleet of Scania double-deckers will be powered by a biogas produced from sewage and waste, via anaerobic digestion.

Gary Mason, Nottingham City Transport (NCT) Director, said, “We are hugely proud of our new biogas buses. This is the largest order for gas double decks in the world and is the culmination of our extensive research into alternative fuels.”

The move towards biogas vehicles began last July when NCT, working in partnership with Nottingham City Council, successfully bid to receive £4.4m in funding from government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV).

Since then, and with a further investment of £12.4m from NCT itself, the bus operator has worked closely with manufacturers Scania and body maker Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL), together with local companies Roadgas and ZF Transmissions, to create a sustainable biogas infrastructure at the city’s Parliament Street Garage, where the new fleet is based.

NCT’s first 30 bio-gas buses began operating on routes 6, 10, 24, 25 and 44 this week, with a further 23 buses being added to the fleet early next year on routes 36 and 45. The buses all include free WiFi and USB charging points.

The Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA)’s Chief Executive, Charlotte Morton, added, “Scania’s new Bio-Gas buses are a great example of the effectiveness of biomethane as a low-carbon, low-cost transport fuel that can help to reduce the levels of air pollution we see in towns and cities across the UK.”

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IAAF provides aftermarket update

The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) hosted its second Industry Briefing of the year at vGroup International in Milton Keynes on Thursday 25 May.

Headed up by Mike Smallbone, membership development manager, the event welcomed a diverse mix of IAAF members who were able to benefit from an informative update on IAAF’s latest activity and the threats affecting the independent aftermarket.

Mike Smallbone presenting to the attendees at VGroup’s headquarters in Milton Keynes

In light of the recent tragic events in Manchester, all guests came together in respect of the families and friends affected and the event was put on hold for a minute’s silence at 11am.

Before this, Smallbone began by discussing the dangers surrounding plans to extend the first MoT test and gave an update on the Right2Choose campaign.

Guest speaker, Quentin Le Hetet (GIPA UK), was in attendance to further examine the impact of extending the MOT period to four years on the industry, while also looking at the future of parts distribution in the UK and the global consolidation taking place across the automotive aftermarket.

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What’s the true cost of speeding?

Excessive speed is often a major factor in road traffic collisions and Van Excellence have recently published advice to fleet owners and van drivers on precautions to take.  The chance of survival for a pedestrian hit by a car increases from 10% if the vehicle is travelling at 40 mph to 90% if it’s doing 20 mph. But what are the implications for transport operators if their drivers regularly speed or cause an accident while breaking the speed limit?

Cost is one area to explore – travelling at 80 mph can use up to 25% more fuel than driving at 70 mph. Speeding due to the pressure of work causes driving stress and this can lead to employees being off work, either through illness or because of a road accident so effective driver management is important.

Technology can play a big part. Vans can be limited so that exceeding the speed limit is not possible, and telematics can be used to monitor and manage a driver’s performance. And perhaps there’s an argument for vehicles to be limited by default when they come off the production line… After all, what other piece of industrial equipment is sold equipped to break the law?

Financial penalties for speeding have recently increased and drivers could find themselves with big fines relating to their weekly earnings as a consequence. Business owners who turn a blind eye to speeding are also at risk under Health and Safety at Work legislation. New sentencing guidelines put greater emphasis on the culpability of senior managers and owners. Evidence of speed can be gathered from management systems on modern vans, even when no telematics are fitted.

• Kill your speed! If you’re hit by a car at 40 mph there’s a 90% chance you’ll be killed – at 30 mph it’s 50% & 20 mph it’s 10%

• 90% of collisions with pedestrians are in 30 mph zones – kill your speed and save a life

• Speed limits are a maximum not a target – take account of the road and weather conditions

• Speed costs – travelling at 80 mph can use up to 25% more fuel than driving at 70 mph

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AALG unites the Aftermarket to lobby in a post-Brexit Britain

The Automotive Aftermarket Liaison Group (AALG) presented its new lobbying position on European issues that affect the aftermarket in a post-Brexit Britain at a press launch on Tuesday 23rd May at Silverstone race track.

The event began with a speech by the longest standing member of the group, Dave Garratt (GEA), where he announced that: “The automotive aftermarket is often overlooked, but it plays a significant role in the uk’s economy. The AALG’s job is to bring our industries associations, societies and institutes together to work for the interests of all businesses associated with the aftermarket. Furthermore in the event of Brexit, the development of the connected car and the trend towards electric and eventually automatous vehicles we believe there’s never been a more important time to work together”.

Wendy Williamson speaking at the launch

The figureheads of each association within the AALG formed a panel to discuss current European issues affecting the aftermarket and how the group plans to lobby them, then opened the floor to questions.

Dave Garratt, GEA CEO commented: “Garage Equipment Manufacturers need to provide the aftermarket with the tools required to service, inspect and diagnose tomorrow’s vehicles. The introduction of the connected car brings forward a real threat of losing diagnostic connectivity for the independent sector. As I said earlier … there’s never been a more important time for our organisations to work together to protect consumer choice”.

Stuart James speaking at the launch

Stuart James, IGA CEO commented: “One of the biggest issues affecting the independent sector is the ability to access vehicle manufacturers technical information, standing united with other aftermarket associations to lobby in the UK and on a European front will heighten the chances of a robust and time efficient solution”.

Wendy Williamson, IAAF CEO commented: “We are currently striving towards overcoming a number of potential industry threats and have begun to promote the Your Car – Your Choice campaign to a wider audience. Protecting the aftermarket’s rights during the development of the connected car and type approval legislation is of paramount importance to the Federation, with the aim of ensuring the independent aftermarket has a level playing field when it comes to access to technical, parts, repair and maintenance information. The IAAF strongly opposes extending the first MOT test from three years to four for new vehicles and we are playing an active role in AALG to combat this.”

Sandy Burgess, SMTA CEO commented: “As we progress towards the “Brexit date” the landscape for our industry will change no doubt creating any number of situations which will generate the need for significant and potentially costly change. Acting as a strong united body the AALG will be able to use the pooled resource of the members to ensure a clear interpretation of the impacts of these changes and provide clarity of understanding to assist those within the industry to take sensible action to mitigate these impacts”.

Steve Nash, IMI CEO commented: “The AALG is a great example of the Automotive Industry working together for the common good. With such a sophisticated and multi-faceted business as automotive is, it’s not surprising that we have a large a diverse mix of representative bodies, all of which have important roles to play in looking after the interests of their respective members.

“But when there are important issues of mutual interest, such as the proposed changes to the first MOT test, it makes absolute sense to work together to form a larger and more powerful lobbying group with a common goal and a single voice. The Automotive Aftersales Lobbying Group (AALG) was formed to do exactly that.”

Stefan Hay, NTDA CEO commented: “Tyres are a crucial safety component and a major contributor to MoT failure. As a result vast technological advances have been made to improve their performance in recent times, yet many motorists still have a very laissez faire attitude to basic tyre checks, with some still choosing to buy dangerous part worn tyres. We welcome the support of our fellow AALG members in raising consumer awareness of the importance of regular tyre maintenance”.

For more information on the AALG, visit www.AALG.org.uk.

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GTG to host event on apprenticeships

GTG West Midlands have announced that they will be holding an exclusive, free event offering advice to attendees covering everything about the changing world of apprenticeships – Apprenticeships-A new world for employers.

Attendees can find out how the new Apprenticeship reforms can grow your business, and hear from industry experts.

Date: Tuesday 6th June 2017

Time: 2.30pm – 4.30pm

Venue:
GTG Training
Bearing Drive
Wolverhampton WV11 3SZ

Key topics will include:

  • Apprenticeship Levy
  • New apprenticeship standards
  • End point assessment
  • Quality guidance
  • Transfer of funds to suppliers
  • Devolved nations

The event will be hosted by leading training specialist Beej Kaczmarczyk , who brings his many years’ experience as an expert in education policy, management, planning, teaching and learning across a range of sectors.

Beej will be be joined by two guest speakers, each offering advice on how to maximise new opportunities:

Julie Gibson
With over 20 years of experience in a number of key roles as a school, college and industry expert. Offering quality and compliance guidance and the changing role of the employer in this process.

Bob ‘Kaz’ Kaczmarczyk
Managing Director of Colourful Solutions (management consultancy) and formerly senior manager roles in Sainsbury’s, Jessops and Homebase.

Complimentary refreshments will be provided and there will also be a networking opportunity after the event.

Places are limited, so please reserve your space today to avoid disappointment.

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Employment Law update – May 2017

IAAF service member, Xecutive Search, has highlighted the following items of legislation which have now come into force.

Trade Union Act (March 2017)
The latest Trade Union Act measures came into force on 1 March 2017. Designed to protect workers from the ‘effects of undemocratic strike action’, the new legislation puts tougher requirements on trade unions, aiming to make industrial action less likely.

Features include an additional requirement in the public sector for at least 40% of entitled ballot voters to vote in favour of industrial action, as well as a requirement for more information on the ballot paper itself. The measures also double the current notice period to be given, meaning that employers will now have 14 days to prepare for industrial action.

Finally, there will be a new ballot threshold. In order for any ballot to be valid, at least 50% of those eligible must vote. Until this point, there have been no minimum turnout requirements.

Gender pay gap (April 2017)
From 5 April 2017, businesses and charities with 250 or more employees will be required by law to publish and report on their gender pay gap (measures for the public sector kicked in in March). Specific figures will range from the gap in hourly pay and bonus to the proportion of men and women in each pay quartile (or ‘range’).

Employers will need to publish their gender pay gap data, plus a written statement, on their website, and report online using Gov.uk’s on line tool.
Most businesses we insure have fewer than 250 employees, but you can of course report voluntarily if you want to.

Apprenticeship levy (April 2017)
Businesses with an annual ‘pay bill’ over £3 million must pay the apprenticeship levy from 6 April 2017. A pay bill is the total wages paid to an employee (or group of employees) within a specific time period.

If this one affects you, you’ll need to report and pay the levy to HMRC through the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) process.

Remember, the levy won’t affect how you fund training for apprentices who started a programme before 1 May 2017. You’ll carry on funding these under the terms in place when the apprenticeship started.

Apprenticeship advertising (April 2017)
From 1 April 2017, it will be against the law to falsely advertise work as a statutory apprenticeship. The law also makes it illegal to wrongly describe someone as an apprentice within your business. The maximum penalty you’ll receive will be a fine, so double-check any apprenticeship contracts and terms you have and ensure you’re already compliant.

Non-statutory apprenticeships are currently discounted from the ruling.

The new National Minimum Wage (NMW) (April 2017)
The NMW changes every April and currently depends on two things: the employee’s age, and whether they’re an apprentice.

The current hourly rates rates for the NMW are £3.50 for an apprentice, £4.05 for employees under 18, £5.60 for employees aged 18-20, and £7.05 for those aged 21-24.

Remember, employees must be at least school leaving age to receive this.

The new National Living Wage (NLW) (April 2017)
Employees must be aged 25 or over to get the NLW, and the new hourly rate is £7.50.

Immigration skills charge regulations (April 2017)
This update primarily affects businesses employing Tier 2 migrant workers in skilled jobs. The charge will be £1,000 a year for every employee, reduced to £364 for small or charitable organisations. You’ll usually be considered to be a small business if your annual turnover is £10.2 million or less, and/or you have 50 employees or fewer.

The charge exempts PhD-level jobs and international students moving from student to working visas. It also leaves out those in the Intra Company Transfer Graduate Trainee category.

Tax-free childcare scheme (April 2017)
In terms of employment law, definition can be quite loose. So whilst this mainly affects parents rather than employers, we’ve kept it in as a key change for many self-employed parents.

The tax-free childcare scheme is a new government initiative, designed to help working parents (including the self-employed) manage the cost of childcare.

Briefly, for every £8 a parent pays in to their online account, the government will pay in an extra £2. Parents will be able to get up to £2,000 a year for each child under the age of 12, and £4,000 for disabled children aged under 17.

You’ll need to be in work and expecting to earn £120 minimum a week, and each parent can’t be earning more than £100,000 a year. Read Gov.uk’s article for more information on who’s eligible and how to benefit.

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Historic vehicles’ MOT consultation

In September 2016 the DfT opened a consulation on proposals to implement an exemption from testing for vehicles over 40 years old.

This included options to:

  • exempt all vehicles over 30 years old
  • have alternative testing requirements
  • remove the exemption

The DfT did propose that vehicles which have been ‘substantially altered’ would not be exempt from testing.

The consultation closed at the beginning of November last year, following which the DfT was analysing the submissions, including that of the IAAF.

A statement has recently been issued by the DfT advising that they had been preparing to make an announcement, but this was forestalled by the calling of the General Election. As they are unable to make announcements during the Election campaign, the DfT has stated that they will have to wait until a new Government has been formed.

Once the results of the consultation have been published, the IAAF will issue a report.

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Ford dealers now offer servicing and parts for all vehicle makes

Ford dealers in Europe are now able to supply parts and servicing for all makes of non-Ford vehicles following the introduction of the new Omnicraft brand from the Ford Customer Service Division (FCSD).

For the launch, Ford focused on developing the most commonly requested parts, including oil filters, brake pads and discs, starter motors and alternators. In the coming months, Ford will introduce engine and cabin air filters, brake master cylinders and wheel hub assemblies, amongst other parts.

John Cooper, vice president, Ford Customer Service Division, said: “Omnicraft is the first new brand offered by FCSD in more than 40 years and is an important growth opportunity for dealerships as they will be able to sell parts and offer service for all vehicles.”

At launch, Omnicraft parts will be available at more than 4,000 Ford Stores and Ford dealerships across 11 markets in Europe, with a further roll out to Ford approved distributors later this year.

Ford also offers its Ford Motorcraft complete line of replacement parts for older Ford vehicles.

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