Norway begins digital switchover

A new era for radio has been heralded as Norway becomes the first country in the world to begin the process of switching off national FM transmissions to complete the transition to fully digital radio services.

The FM-switch which took place on Wednesday 11 January was marked by an international ceremony attended by senior radio and media policy figures including the Norwegian Secretary of State, Bård Folke Fredriksen; Paul Keenan, CEO Bauer Media UK and the Nordics; and Graham Dixon, Head of Radio, European Broadcasting Union. During the ceremony at precisely 11.11am, a giant dial was moved from FM to DAB to signify the moment of the transition.

The Norwegian switch off is to be implemented region by region across six regions, starting in the arctic city of Bodø in Nordland and ending in the northern regions of Troms and Finnmark on 13 December 2017. Norway’s radio industry, including public broadcaster NRK and commercial broadcasters P4 Group and Bauer Media’s SBS Radio, have collaborated on a plan to ensure a smooth transition for listeners, with all three turning off FM broadcasts simultaneously in two regions and NRK Radio leading the way in four.

Ford Ennals, CEO, Digital Radio UK, said: “Norway and the UK both have a common vision of a digital future for radio to allow it to compete effectively in a multiplatform and connected world. Norway has opted to accelerate the transition to digital radio through a coordinated digital radio switchover. We wish our Norwegian colleagues a successful and smooth transition and will be watching their progress with great interest as we move towards the threshold of 50% digital listening.”

DAB digital radio launched in Norway in 1995, just ahead of its UK launch, and FM switch off was announced in April 2015. Since then digital radio progress in Norway has accelerated and DAB coverage is now at 99.7% and 74% of the population have access to DAB digital radio. 78% of new cars in Norway now come with DAB as standard. Including five new stations launching on the day of the switch, there are 30 national services broadcasting on DAB in Norway compared to just five national FM stations.

The Norwegian switchover will affect all national radio stations and commercial local radio stations broadcasting in larger cities. Community radio stations and smaller local stations will continue to broadcast on FM for five more years after national switch off.

There are 5 million people in Norway and 2.4 million cars. The critical challenge for the Norwegian radio switchover is to ensure that drivers convert their analogue radios with 70% of cars at the beginning of 2017 not having access to digital radio.

In the UK, Government continues to support a listener led transition to digital and has stated it will review the next steps for digital radio when the coverage and listening criteria are met. Millions more listeners are benefitting from improvements to the coverage of both the national and local DAB networks and the addition of new national and local digital stations. Digital radio’s share of all UK radio listening has grown to 45.5% and is projected to reach 50% by the end of 2017. 57% of the UK population has access to a DAB digital radio and 86% of all new cars have digital radio as standard.

Whilst Norway is the first country in the world to switch off FM, digital radio is making strong progress across Europe beyond the UK. Switzerland has confirmed a switch over between 2020- 2024 whilst Governments in Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands have all also confirmed support for a transition to digital radio.

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Hats off to Ben

Ben, the not-for-profit organisation that partners with the automotive industry, has raised £10,000 so far from its first ever national fundraising event – Hats on 4 Mental Health Day.

Across the UK on 10 November 2016, those working in the industry, including the IAAF Council, wore their hats to work and donated to help Ben support automotive colleagues facing mental health challenges. Around 90 companies took part in the event and the funds raised will go back into providing vital support for those who work in the industry and their families. Those taking part were encouraged to post their photos on social media under the hashtag #hatson4mentalhealth. The event was so popular that it became a trending topic on Twitter for hours.

IAAF Council members sporting their hats at the November Council meeting

Zara Ross, chief executive of Ben, said, ‘We were delighted to see so many organisations supporting Hats on 4 Mental Health Day. We have been overwhelmed by the response we have had and the awareness surrounding the campaign has been phenomenal.

‘It’s so important that we keep talking about mental health and reduce the stigma surrounding it as it affects so many of us. One in three people will experience mental health problems at work, which means that over 260,000 people within the automotive industry will face these challenges at some point in their lives. The money raised from Hats on 4 Mental Health Day will go towards supporting those individuals to help them get their lives back on track.

‘I would like to thank everyone who has taken part, helping us to raise awareness and get more people talking about mental health. We really appreciate the efforts that you, our automotive community, went to. We would also like to say ‘hold on to your hats’ as we will be running Hats on 4 Mental Health Day again this year.’


Euro Car Parts and Seeba founders join forces to fly the flag for e-waste

Sukhpal Ahluwalia, founder of Euro Car Parts and Badri Baldawa, founder of Seeba Group of Companies, have jointly and equally invested in EcoCentric Management Private Limited (EcoCentric), one of India’s fastest growing companies providing e-waste management solutions. Both Sukhpal and Badri will sit on the board of the company.

The Asian entrepreneurs have invested an undisclosed sum into the business as part of seed growth capital. These funds will be used to ‘scale up’ the business and expand EcoCentric’s operations both in India and internationally. Sukhpal and Badri continue to seek further opportunities to invest in India at seed funding stage.

EcoCentric provides corporates and individuals with a customised end-to-end solution for e-waste management, asset recovery, data security and destruction and reverse logistics. The company was founded in January 2011 to bridge the gap between informal and formal recycling of e-waste material.

E-waste is the waste generated from old and obsolete electronic and electrical equipment. The presence of heavy metals and chemicals make e-waste potentially hazardous and it is one of the fasted growing streams of hazardous waste globally.

Karan Thakkar, Founder and Managing Director of Ecocentric, comments: “India is the fifth-largest producer of e-waste globally, generating 2 million tonnes annually, of which only 5% is forwarded for formal recycling and 95% to the ‘informal sector’ which does not have the technical knowhow of recycling and resource recovery. As a result, manual recycling causes harm to the environment and the people involved in the trade.”

This has opened up a business opportunity for formal, professional recycling. Ecocentric has state-of-the-art recycling facilities with the capability of processing e-waste for metal recovery and hazardous waste treatment. With this current round of funding, the company will be able to increase its capacity from 2,500 metric tonnes per annum (mtpa) to 10,000 mtpa, while installing further collection facilities across India.

Karan continues: “It is estimated that the value of electronic equipment manufactured will reach approximately $35bn by 2020 and the recoveries from e-waste alone will be $4bn by the same year. With the experience, expertise and reach that Mr Baldawa and Mr Ahluwalia bring on board, the Ecocentric team is very confident of playing a leadership role in the Indian e-waste recycling sector.”

Sukhpal Ahluwalia is perhaps best known as the founder and driving force behind Euro Car Parts, which he founded over 30 years ago. The company achieved substantial year-on-year growth levels before being sold to NASDAQ-listed Fortune 500 company LKQ Corporation in 2011. Sukhpal has stayed on board as Executive Chairman of LKQ’s UK businesses and has more recently become executive director of the USA board. Sukhpal remains involved in many charitable and social activities, including an education charity in India and has formerly been Asian Businessman of the Year.

Sukhpal says: “My heart and passion resides in India. Having had great success as a business man in the UK and Europe, it is my duty and vocation to invest in and develop a practical legacy in India, helping to transform lives and convert aspirations into reality. With extensive connections in India and globally, myself and my good friend and peer Badri are well placed to help Ecocentric with its aim of creating and spreading awareness about ethical, safe and compliant e-waste management at a personal and professional level.”

Badri Baldawa founded Seeba Exporters from a small home office in 1986, turning into the global business it is today. His business philosophies – Creativity, Quality, Punctuality, Integrity and Professionalism – continue to drive the business as a leading supplier of high-quality stainless steel kitchenware and homeware products. Besides being associated with various trade organizations including the Engineering Export Promotion Council (EEPC), Indian Council of Small Industries (ICSI) and the Indian Merchants Association (IMA), Badri has also been the President of the All India Stainless Steel Industries Association (AISSIA).

Badri comments: “I am fully committed to supporting young entrepreneurs in their start-up journeys and this is no exception. Ecocentric has had a great start, already helping many Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to plan and execute their Extended Producer Responsibility. With our combined investment and hands on business experience, Sukhpal and I will help to guide the team to develop this company’s full potential.”

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People News

WAI has appointed Christine Smith to the role of Marketing and Communications Manager

Based in Florida, as part of WAI’s US division, Smith joins from a sales and technology background, having worked previously in marketing, operations & management roles with API, Gatekeeper Business Solutions, Universal Health Services (UHS), Fine Lions, & Direct Office Interiors.

Christine Smith

Smith will use her marketing skills to implement a global marketing strategy promoting the WAI brand and building awareness of new and existing products and services to reach WAI’s target audience.

The role will also include creating valuable content to help maintain active communication, both domestically and globally, with WAI’s customer base. This engagement will allow for greater customer feedback, enabling WAI to determine and meet customer requirements.

Smith said: “The automotive industry is a challenging environment and we have the opportunity at WAI to effectively convey the power of WAI, its heritage, brand and products. In my new role, I look forward to elevating the WAI brand and product awareness on a global scale.”

Smith will be influential in helping to implement WAI’s new corporate identity nationwide, using a variety of promotional techniques, both online and offline, to highlight WAI’s proven quality and increase brand recognition.

Richard Welland, Managing Director – EMEA IAM & VP Global Marketing, added: “We’re delighted to welcome Christine to the team. Christine’s experience speaks for itself and we’re sure that she will help us to engage with current and potential customers across the globe while increasing our brand awareness.”

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DVSA MOT announcement released in error

The Department for Transport yesterday issued an announcement that they had opened the consultation seeking views on whether the age a vehicle gets its first MOT should be increased from 3 to 4 years.  However, the DfT has confirmed that this announcement was made in error and should have described proposals to allow learner drivers to have lessons on motorways.

The IAAF does intend to make a formal submission should a consultation be opened on the subject of MOT frequency and will advise its membership accordingly.

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Acceleration to the next level: ZF Aftermarket goes live

Thanks to the accelerated integration of TRW, lasting only about 14 months, ZF moves forward as a cohesive Aftermarket business, supplying global customers and partners with products in OE Quality and services from its expansive portfolio of premium product brands Sachs, Lemförder, TRW, Boge, and Openmatics. ZF demonstrates the growing importance of the aftermarket business with the status as division. ZF Aftermarket is now the second largest supplier of parts, services and solutions in the global automotive aftermarket.

Customers and business partners benefit directly from the change, effective from January 1, 2017: “We are on-site where our customers expect us to be with committed employees, a competitive product portfolio, strong brands and demand-driven service offers”, explains Helmut Ernst, Head of the new division. “As the newest ZF division we will support the group-wide development of system solutions as well as driving the aftermarket growth.”

ZF Aftermarket connected to global customers

With 8 000 employees throughout 120 global company locations and a 650-strong network of service partners worldwide, ZF Aftermarket is optimally equipped to be the preferred one stop shop for their customers. “ZF’s success is built on both its ability to advance technologically and its capacity for providing the right solutions”, explains Neil Fryer, Chief Commercial Officer of ZF Aftermarket.

Premium portfolio with wide-scale applications

ZF Aftermarket supplies solutions and component expertise to the automotive after sales segment under the product brands Sachs, Lemförder, TRW, Boge, and Openmatics, including transmissions and transmission parts, axles, steering systems and differentials, chassis and steering components, shock absorbers, disk brake systems, drum brakes and actuation systems as well as steering and driveline components as well as rubber-to-metal components. As the global leader in driveline and chassis technology and active and passive safety technology, ZF serves beyond the automotive aftermarket, also providing solutions for off-highway, rail, industry, marine and wind energy applications worldwide.

In the upcoming months, the ZF Aftermarket team will be actively using the numerous trade fairs and industry events to present the new set-up and vision. This, in turn, guarantees that the customers are vital partners in shaping a successful business partnership. “With early anticipation of the trends of the future aftermarket, a broad and expanding product portfolio and a comprehensive service footprint, the aftermarket organization continues ZF’s objective of becoming the leader in providing world class solutions for its customers”, knows Helmut Ernst.

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IAAF Dinner Photos

The photographs from the IAAF Dinner 2016 are now available online. CLICK HERE to view the images. Images can be downloaded from the website by opening an individual image and clicking on the download icon in the bottom left corner.

As you can see from the photographs, the event was very well attended and enjoyed by those present. The 2017 Conference & Dinner will be held on Thursday 7th December at the Hilton Doubletree in Milton Keynes.

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Employment Law Update

Key Employment Law Issues For Employers in 2017

1. Brexit – Since the referendum decision in June, Brexit has taken its share of press coverage. Article 50 is set to be triggered by the end of March 2017 starting the two-year negotiating period.

2. Status and the gig economy – Arguably, the most important employment law decision of 2016 was that Uber drivers are workers rather than self-employed. A judge in the London employment tribunal is currently hearing the first claim of four to be brought against similar companies operating similar styles of business.

3. Paying legal minimums – The Government will continue to focus on making sure employers are correctly paying the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and National Living Wage (NLW) in 2017. The Chancellor used the Autumn Statement to announce a £4.3m yearly increase in the amount available for enforcement of the minimum wage. This money will be used to set up specific teams from HMRC, which will target employers most likely at risk of not paying legal rates. 2016 saw a record number of employers ‘named and shamed’ for underpaying workers and it would appear the issue of underpayments is going to remain an important
future focus for the Government.

4. Gender pay gap reporting – The law requiring employers to publish a gender pay gap report will take effect from 6 April 2017. Employers with 250 or more employees will have to calculate and publish the mean and median hourly pay gap and annual bonus gap between men and women. Employers will also have to calculate the number of men and women who fall in to four pay quartiles. The report has to be published on the employer’s website within a year of the calculation date, i.e. by April 2018 for the first report, for three years and has to be submitted to the Secretary of State. Draft regulations were released in December and the explanatory notes state, for the first time, that a failure to publish the report is an unlawful act which may prompt action from the
Equalities and Human Rights Commission.

5. Apprenticeship Levy – April 2017 will also see the commencement of the Apprenticeship Levy, the Government’s initiative to ensure the creation of three million apprenticeships by 2020. Employers with an annual paybill of £3m and over will have to pay 0.5% of their pay amount in to a digital apprenticeship account. The Government will give employers a £15k yearly allowance to offset against this amount which will be applied monthly. The funds entering the account have to be used within 24 months or they will expire, however, companies in a group structure will be able to transfer a maximum of ten per cent of their funds to other employers in their supply chain from 2018.

6. Salary sacrifice – Salary sacrifice is often seen as a useful way of providing employee benefits whilst receiving a financial benefit; the employee doesn’t pay income tax and National Insurance contributions aren’t paid on the amount sacrificed. These schemes have expanded greatly over recent years to provide a multitude of goods to employees at a significant cost to the Exchequer. The tax advantage will be removed for all salary sacrifice schemes from April 2017 except for the provision of pensions, vouchers and cycle to work schemes and ultra-low emission vehicles. Schemes in place before April 2017 will be protected from these changes until April 2018 with some remaining protected until 2021.

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TecAlliance Parts Identification Apps

Although their needs may differ, the common thread that links installers, wholesalers, distributors, manufacturers and even the vehicle manufacturers, is high quality data, made available for a multitude of purposes and presented to allow ease of access to sector relevant information that allows businesses to work more efficiently.

For the end user, whether in the form of technical information for the workshop or parts identification for the wholesaler, this data is made available by TecAlliance through its renowned RMI and TecDoc platforms, which is then generally accessed, via subscription, directly through its own portals.

However, it is becoming increasingly important for parts manufacturers that already use TecAlliance to manage their data for these ‘official’ channels, to produce bespoke systems that provide access to information exclusively concerning their own brand, to their own customers, generally via an App.

Due to its existing relationship with the 600 plus brands that are now listed on the TecDoc platform, TecAlliance is building ‘alternative’ channels and as Shaun Greasley, TecAlliance’s general manager for UK and Ireland explains, this trend is set to continue.

“With the growing reliance on smart phone technology, parts manufacturers see the importance and the subsequent opportunity, to provide their customers with the information they require when and where they need it.

“To that end, the App has proved to be a superb development and although many might just associate TecAlliance with the TecDoc CATALOG electronic parts catalogue, our knowledge when it comes to handling and presenting data in a way that helps those working in the real world of the aftermarket, means we have the skills and abilities to provide many alternative solutions including the App.

“These Apps also include an authentication solution to check that automotive replacement parts marked with the MAPP code are genuine. Using this solution, anyone using the App on a smartphone can authenticate a part anywhere in the world, around the clock, seven days a week via the MAPP code to the authentication platform. The code is then checked and the result – in form of a text message combined with a green/yellow/red traffic light – is sent back right away.

“As TecDoc was originally built on the pooled data from 30 of the most well-respected original equipment parts suppliers and now has more than 600 aftermarket brands as official data suppliers, we have the ability to provide unrivalled quantities of data at unparalleled levels of accuracy.”

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Autoliv and Volvo agree driverless car software joint venture

Autoliv Inc. and Volvo Cars have signed a final agreement regarding the formation of a 50:50 joint venture to develop software for autonomous driving and driver assistance systems, based on the letter of intent announced during autumn 2016. Autoliv, the automotive safety supplier, see their next step to further reduce road traffic accidents as active safety systems that can assist the driver to avoid an accident or, at least, reduce the speed of impact, thereby substantially mitigating injuries.

The joint venture, named Zenuity, will create a new entrant in the growing global market for autonomous driving software systems. It marks the first time a leading premium car maker has joined forces with a tier one supplier to develop new advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) and autonomous driving (AD) technologies.

As part of the agreement Autoliv will make a total investment of around 1.1 billion Swedish krone into the joint venture, the large majority of which is an initial cash contribution, and which also includes certain assets. Volvo Cars will also contribute certain assets to the joint venture.

Headquartered in Gothenburg, Sweden and with additional operations in Munich, Germany, and Detroit, USA, the initial workforce of around 200 people will come from Autoliv and Volvo Cars. The company is expected to grow to over 600 employees in the medium term. Operations are expected to start during the first half of 2017, after approvals from relevant competition authorities in several countries have been obtained and other customary closing conditions have been satisfied.

Both Autoliv and Volvo Cars will license and transfer the intellectual property for their ADAS systems to the joint venture. From this base, the company will develop new ADAS products and AD technologies. The new company is expected to have its first driver assistance products available for sale by 2019 with autonomous driving technologies following shortly thereafter.

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