The Parts Alliance open evening attracts over 200 customers despite heavy rain

The Parts Alliance’s new Midpoint Distribution Centre opened its doors for garage customers, attracting a total of 250 attendees including 25 key suppliers.

The open evening, held on Thursday 13 June had originally been intended to take place at GSF Birmingham but was moved to Midpoint to involve eager customers of local branches of CES and Bromsgrove Motor Factors too.

Guests were given tours of the distribution centre and, undeterred by the weather, were treated to a BBQ courtesy of Schaeffler’s LuK brand.

Dean Whitehouse, head of business development at The Parts Alliance, said: “It was an amazing night.

“We were delighted to see so many customers make the effort in spite of the awful rain.

“It’s great to be able to show hundreds of customers the investment we’re making to keep improving service levels and what goes on behind the scenes.”

Branch staff took the opportunity to chat to customers away from the pressures of work as suppliers also reported strong interest in the technology and product developments they were explaining.

Simon Moore, head of marketing at The Parts Alliance, said: “Despite atrocious weather, we had an unbelievable turnout and it really showed the loyalty of our customers to make the effort through the floods.

“It was wonderful to see so many people there and our thanks go to our suppliers and staff for putting together a great open evening.”

To find your nearest branch of The Parts Alliance please visit https://www.thepartsalliance.com/contact/branch-finder/.

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Latest MOT horror pictures serve as reminder to motorists about importance of annual test

MOT test stations across the country are continuing to report dangerous defects and MOT horrors.

The latest selection sent to the DVSA shows shocking bodges, dangerous repairs and defects as a result of overlooked vehicle maintenance.

One tester submitted a picture of a 2005 Toyota Landcruiser that came in for a ‘quick MOT’ before the owner set off on a trip with his caravan in tow.

The chassis mounting point for his nearside rear trailing arm had completely rotted away and the back axle was floating about.

The owner said it felt, “a little odd on acceleration”.

Thankfully, the caravan holiday was cancelled and the Landcruiser was scrapped.

Serious spring damage

Another tester from Keith’s garage in East Sussex sent in a picture of what remained of an Audi rear spring.

This car’s suspension was badly damaged and needed to be fixed before the car was driven again.

Seat belt bodge

Worrying photos showed a seat belt tied together, offering absolutely no restraint for the person on the seat in the event of an accident.

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The Parts Alliance helps recognise the UK’s best independents at Garage of the Year awards

The Parts Alliance has helped to pay tribute to the achievements of independent garages by sponsoring ‘Best Small Garage’ at Automechanika Birmingham’s Garage of the Year awards.

The event, which took place at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham on Wednesday 5 June, saw 200 industry professionals gather for a three-course meal and awards presentation to celebrate the hard work and dedication demonstrated by independents across the UK.

Sponsoring ‘Best Small Garage’, The Parts Alliance’s CEO Neil Croxson was on hand to present the award to Northern winner Bryan Swales Auto Repairs based in Castle Douglas, and Southern winner Performance 3000 based in Yeovil.

Bryan Swales, owner of Bryan Swales Auto Repairs, commented: “With a target audience of 10,000 people in a 10 mile radius, and 13 other garages vying for the business, you can imagine that we have to try and be at the top of our game.

“We use manufacturers’ specific tooling, ADAS equipment and the best quality parts to help us differentiate ourselves from the local competition and save our customers trekking for miles to find a main dealer.”

“We also send staff to attend numerous training courses all over the country, some of which can take hours to get to from our little remote part of Scotland.”

Similarly, Performance 3000’s entry highlighted the lengths the business was willing to go to for its customers.

“Since last year we have employed one more technician and we’re still inundated with more work,” said owner Mike Randino.

“Our next move is to redesign the workshop to fit in another ramp before we can look at employing another technician.

“We now hold our own in-house business development training days, held the first Saturday of every month, when we plan around the future of our industry and the business.”

Simon Moore, Head of Marketing at The Parts Alliance, said: “Small garages are the lifeblood of the aftermarket and we were delighted to support a category with so many fantastic entries.

“Congratulations go to both our winners; we understand how challenging it can be as a small business in this industry, so to recognise these exceptional efforts is incredibly rewarding.”

To find out more about The Parts Alliance, visit www.thepartsalliance.com.

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Schaeffler unveils REPXPERT app

Schaeffler says that the app will transform the way technicians utilise its online portal, with REPXPERTs now able to source product details for repair solutions and invaluable installation instructions, as well as gain access to TecDoc and product details from across the independent automotive aftermarket, all from the palm of their hands.

On the user-friendly homescreen, which is recognisably REPXPERT branded and in line with the website and e-newsletter, users are faced with a variety of icons, one of which is ‘vehicle search’.

This feature allows users to quickly find the parts they need for both passenger cars and commercial vehicles.

Once the user finds the correct vehicle, the app allows the user to either browse by Schaeffler brands – LuK, INA, FAG or Ruville – or by product group.

Another crucial feature is ‘part search’, which allows REPXPERTs to find parts by typing in a Schaeffler, OE or competitor part number or even an EAN code.

Alternatively, the user can just simply click ‘barcode scan’ and use the camera on their device to scan the barcode on any Schaeffler packaging.

‘CheckPoint’ is another icon in the REPXPERT app, which is currently home to a complete version of the previous LuK DMF CheckPoint app, a must-have for anybody servicing or repairing clutches with a dual mass flywheel.

Other CheckPoint functions to be added include INA timing systems, which will feature tensioner and pulley stud torque values and more belt service-related information.

Schaeffler is hopeful that the release of the new platform will inspire a new generation of technicians to sign-up.

Registered users can log-in using their existing details, while new members can sign-up, via the REPXPERT app, free-of-charge.

The REPXPERT app can be downloaded, also for free, for all Apple iOS and Android devices.

Schaeffler head of category and technical, Thom Willis, said: “The new app is unique in the aftermarket, using a direct link to the REPXPERT technical platform to provide both catalogue and repair information straight to the user’s device.

“Extra functionality will continue to be developed, such as ‘INA CheckPoint’, making the REPXPERT app an invaluable tool for the modern workshop.”

Click here to find out more about REPXPERT.

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UK electric cars will need twice the world’s supply of cobalt

Scientists warn of “huge implications” as government continues electric car push

A team of scientists has written to the Committee of Climate Change warning that government plans to replace the UK’s 31.5 million cars with electric vehicles by 2050 will require almost twice the current annual global supply of cobalt.

The experts have also calculated that based on the latest battery technology (80 per cent nickel, 10 per cent cobalt, 10 per cent manganese), UK demand for EV batteries will require almost the total amount of neodymium produced globally each year, three quarter’s of the world’s lithium, and “at least half” of the world’s copper.

The letter, authored by a team of eight scientists headed by the Natural History Museum’s head of earth sciences, professor Richard Herrington, explains that to replace the UK’s cars with EVs will require 207,900 tonnes of cobalt, 264,600 tonnes of lithium carbonate and “at least” 7,200 tonnes of neodymium and dysprosium, as well as 2,362,500 tonnes of copper.

The Committee on Climate Change, an independent statutory body established under the Climate Change Act 2008, has previously called for all new cars and vans to be zero-emission by 2035.

The scientists say that mining the battery materials necessary to replace the two billion cars in the world would require four times the UK’s total annual electrical output.

Estimates put the extra power required for all UK cars to be electric at 63 TWh a year, a 20 per cent increase over current generation levels.

Professor Herrington said: “The urgent need to cut CO2 emissions to secure the future of our planet is clear, but there are huge implications for our natural resources.

“Our role as scientists is to provide the evidence for how best to move towards a zero-carbon economy – society needs to understand that there is a raw material cost of going green.”

Tell us what you think below.

Auto Torque has partnered with Garage Wire to bring you all the latest aftermarket news.

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GS Yuasa Academy launches online learning platform

Manufacturer says online training will “revolutionise battery training” as its new platform goes live.

Featuring both Yuasa and GS battery brands, GS Yuasa Academy is the first system of its type for comprehensive online battery training.

Aimed at improving customer service, reducing warranty returns and maximising battery business potential, it provides over 20 certified courses tailored to different job roles.

Jon Pritchard, general sales and marketing manager at GS Yuasa Battery Sales UK, said: “The reaction to GS Yuasa Academy has been fantastic.

“Our customers have been impressed with the wide range of courses on offer, how these battery related topics are broken down into easy-to-follow, bite sized modules, and how upon completion of each course a downloadable certificate is achieved.

“Results of a recent survey of workshop technicians highlighted a real need for comprehensive training.

“Worryingly, 62 per cent of participants asked did not know what battery state of charge and state of health were, and 52 per cent were unaware of the reasons battery failure is more common in the winter.

“These results highlighted some concerning knowledge gaps, replicating what we often see at our workshop training events.

“Understanding of batteries is essential”

“An understanding of batteries is essential for all technicians to ensure that batteries are stored, applicated and fitted correctly.

“We already had a comprehensive training programme in place, but GS Yuasa Academy offers industry leading training to as many workshops as possible.”

Designed for individuals and organisations alike, GS Yuasa Academy provides valuable knowledge and skills.

Training content is delivered in dynamic video format and courses feature downloadable support material.

GS Yuasa have identified individualised learning programmes, tailored to specific job roles within the industry.

Each course module only takes a few minutes to complete and users can leave the site and return to pick up where they left off at any time.

With engaging presenters and clear graphics to aid learning, GS Yuasa Academy will also explain GS Yuasa’s market-leading product ranges – including their key features and benefits, manufacturing processes, information on labelling specification and what sets these ranges apart from competitors.

There are various multiple-choice tests along the way, so individuals can reflect on learning and check their understanding as they progress.

Upon completion of each course, a downloadable certificate will be achieved and should be printed as proof of certification in this area.

GS Yuasa Academy is also designed with large distributors, retailers, motor factors and other organisations in mind.

The system helps organisations maximise business potential by managing and monitoring the learning of teams of any size.

It can be customised to business requirements with easy-to-use team leader features, including a bulk team upload, progress dashboards, downloadable reports and specific learning paths.

GS Yuasa Academy will help increase sales, reduce warranty claims, save money, highlight upselling opportunities and ensure batteries leave the shelf in the best possible condition.

Try the system now by clicking here.

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Avia Autos crowned Garage of the Year 2019

Automechanika Birmingham evening event celebrated examples of excellence among UK independents

Avia Autos in Bridgend has been named Garage of the Year at this year’s awards ceremony held at the National Motorcylce Museum this week.

Collecting the Garage of the Year award and £1,000 cash prize, Hayley Pells described the moment as a complete shock.

She said: “I was listening to all of the categories, waiting in anticipation and thinking that we might stand a small chance of winning one of these but I certainly didn’t expect to win the overall award.”

Garage of the Year 2019 award winners

  • Community Initiative, sponsored by Gallagher: Sufari at Newberry Road Garage
  • Training and Standards, sponsored by ZF: Community Motors CIC
  • Automechanik, sponsored by Automechanika: Matthew Pestridge, D&D Autos
  • Business Innovation, sponsored by TechMan: Cleevely Motors
  • Tech Innovation, sponsored by EDT: AAK
  • Outstanding Achievement, sponsored by Delphi: Bee Cool ACS
  • Garage Owner, sponsored by Launch UK: Lorraine Amor
  • Best Small Garage, sponsored by The Parts Alliance: Performance 3000 (South), Brian Swales (North)
  • Best Large Garage, sponsored by Autologic: Jackson & Phillips (South), Chelt. & Glos Autocentre (North)
  • Garage of the Year: Avia Autos

This year’s competition featured a total of nine categories.

The Independent Garage Association (IGA) were the main sponsor once again whilst Autologic, The Parts Alliance, Delphi Technologies, ZF, Gallagher, Launch UK, EDT Automotive and Techman all supported categories.

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Schaeffler hails ‘best ever’ Automechanika Birmingham

Exhibition stand offered visitors a glimpse at the ‘garage of tomorrow’

The stand, located in the OESAA village, featured a striking workshop setting with a Schaeffler BMW M4 DTM car, plus augmented and mixed reality exhibits.

According to Schaeffler, it grabbed the attention of technicians and distributors alike, with feedback from visitors overwhelmingly positive.

Because there was so much for visitors to see and do, the stand was constantly busy across all three days, with Schaeffler UK Aftermarket marketing and communications manager, Jeff Earl, describing it as “one of the most exciting, interactive and innovative visitor experiences we have ever produced”.

Visitors took full advantage of the high-tech exhibits, which allowed technicians to get up close-and-personal with a technical ‘helpline’ of the future.

Wearing goggles, which relayed heads-up instructions, technicians were able to carry out a simulated timing chain replacement using real tools and components, or learn about the inner workings of a dual mass flywheel.

They were designed to show how repairs could be made easier and quicker in the future, utilising support from the likes of Schaeffler, with its interactive, live and online instructions.

Switching to augmented reality, visitors were able to use an iPad to scan each individual component of a complete FAG chassis system, breaking down and exploring each single part using images and videos, as well as giving lots of hints and tips.

One of the visiting technicians, the manager of a new start-up business, said: “We’re already purchasing a lot of Schaeffler equipment from a local distributor, and it’s nice to be able to come onto the stand and have a chat with the REPXPERTs and discover more about the products and what they’ve got planned for the future.”

Another technician from an independent workshop added: “Schaeffler is always developing innovative ideas, so it’s useful to see what the latest developments are.

“As an independent workshop, we don’t always see these products until two or three years down the line.

“It’s important we futureproof our business; we need to keep up-to-date with the times and adapt with them, rather than be left behind.”

Automechanika Birmingham 2019 was also the perfect platform for Schaeffler to launch the REPXPERT app.

Designed to make it simpler and quicker for members to access the online portal, REPXPERTs can now source part numbers and product details for all Schaeffler repair solutions, as well as being able to access invaluable technical data – all from the palm of their hands.

Meanwhile, around 300 Schaeffler VIPs were treated to an informative presentation and audio tour, followed by lunch on the stand, before taking away an exclusive REPXPERT technician’s messenger bag.

Another 300 REPXPERT VIPs also enjoyed lunch and a goody bag, before many of them took the opportunity to enter the INA Torque Challenge competition.

Schaeffler gave away eight torque wrenches every day to technicians that performed the best after learning about the importance of using correct torque settings.

Finally, Edd China visited the stand on Wednesday and Thursday to sign his new book, Grease Junkie.

For more information on REPXPERT, please click here.

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Automechanika Birmingham 2019 attracts highest ever visitor attendance

12,145 automotive industry professionals visited the hugely successful 2019 event

Organiser says the event delivered on its promise of bringing the entire UK automotive industry together against a backdrop of innovation, technology and networking.

Feedback from exhibitors was overwhelmingly positive and, as a result, 87 percent of space has been reserved for 2021 where exhibitors include: Schaeffler, ZF, Valeo, NGK, HELLA, Delphi, Denso, BM Catalysts, Mann Hummel and YUASA.

Martyn Houghton, senior manager IAM at ZF Aftermarket, said: “Automechanika Birmingham was a resounding success for us.

“Must-attend exhibition”

“The event has now established itself as the “must-attend” exhibition for motor factors and garages in the UK automotive aftermarket.

“We could positively engage with a high-quality visitor and promote our extensive portfolio of brands, products and new technologies.

“We are already working on plans to engage with visitors for Automechanika Birmingham 2021.”

Nigel Morgan, managing director of Schaeffler UK’s Aftermarket division, said: “We had a packed schedule of top training, interactive exhibits and special guests over the three days and our stand was busy throughout, engaging fully with visitors on how we continue to innovate the automotive aftermarket and work with them to support their business.

“As Schaeffler always delivers one of the most exciting and innovative stands at the event, we are already looking forward to Automechanika Birmingham 2021.”

From extensive research carried out by event organisers Messe Frankfurt UK, it was clear that the market demanded a focussed event for the UK independent garage sector.

As a result, the launch of The Big UK Garage Event led to the highest number of independent garages and bodyshops attending an Automechanika Birmingham event.

Key decision makers and owners

The Big UK Garage Event attracted key decision makers and owners, who benefitted from an enhanced Seminar Programme offering free CPD technical training and the largest selection of exclusive giveaways, discounts, prizes and deals worth over £26,000.

Jack Halliday, Automechanika Birmingham event director, said: “This has been the best attended Automechanika Birmingham to date.

“Working with exhibitors, we have strived to offer visitors across the entire automotive industry an experience that supports the running of their businesses and one that they will continue to benefit from in the future.

“The event in 2021 is already shaping up to be another fantastic showcase for the automotive industry.”

With an improved visitor layout, Automechanika Birmingham featured over 500 exhibitors from 21 countries. 120 companies exhibited at Automechanika Birmingham for the first time.

There was also an abundance of well-known faces at this year’s show, with celebrity appearances from Lord Sebastian Coe, Guy Martin, Nicholas Hamilton, Edd China and some of British Touring Car Championship’s (BTCC) top drivers.

For the automotive aftermarket, the new Aftermarket Power Network event brought together the most influential leaders across the full breadth of the UK automotive aftermarket, as Lord Coe joined the launch event to address and network with leading industry peers.

The Aftermarket Hall featured the Retail Accessories Village, Bodyshop Zone and the debut of the Automechanika Body & Paint World Championships. Returning for the second year, Automechanika Connect provided the ultimate match-making tool, allowing visitors the opportunity to pre-plan meetings with exhibitors to maximise their time.

With new product launches dominating the Aftermarket hall, along with announcements of key distribution agreements signed between companies, the event offered more than 100 hours of training seminars and debates, hosting industry experts who delivered sessions covering daily workplace challenges, industry developments and advanced technology.

Returning for another year, the Vehicle Production hall hosted the increasingly successful “Meet the Buyer” and “Open Forum” events, hosted by SMMT.

The events were successful in bringing together automotive buyers and suppliers to build relationships between OEMs, tier one suppliers and the supply chain.

Automechanika Birmingham will return to the NEC on 8 to 10 June 2021.

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ZF Smart Service to transform diagnostics

Aftermarket business says it’s well prepared and ahead of the curve when it comes to megatrend solutions.

ZF Aftermarket says that its Smart Service app will, in the future, allow mechanics to carry out reliable vehicle diagnoses and basic maintenance, such as replacing brakes or resetting steering angle sensors (SAS), using mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Extremely simple to use and operate, the Smart Service app is loaded to a mobile device, the device is connected using the vehicle’s OBD interface and they communicate via Bluetooth.

Having been successfully piloted in the UK, the next step is to introduce this innovative product to the wider UK market, followed by a European and then global launch.

Martyn Houghton, senior manager IAM at ZF Aftermarket, explains: “We know that in the past, many independent workshops have shied away from investing in expensive stationary diagnostic units.

“With ZF Smart Service, we have developed a particularly efficient workshop tool, a digital screwdriver, if you like, that no tool box should be without.”

Well prepared and ahead of the curve when it comes to providing solutions for megatrends such as mobility, safety, efficiency and autonomous driving, the business understands that with vehicles growing smarter and customers more demanding, the job of the workshop is becoming significantly more complex.

ZF Aftermarket believes that empowering and enabling the technicians of today with the correct tools, support and know-how will help secure the integrity of the aftermarket of tomorrow, benefitting all players.

Tailor-made product and service portfolios

Passionate in ensuring the modern technician is well-equipped to cope with the changing landscape, ZF Aftermarket delivers technical support, information & training through its ZF [pro]Tech workshop concept.

“We will see an increase in electrically powered vehicles and transportation systems that are highly automated or even driving autonomously, especially in urban environments,” explains Wayne McCluskey, technical training manager, ZF Aftermarket.

“As a manufacturer of the accompanying products in OE quality, we have first-hand knowledge. We designed a high-voltage (HV) training concept at an early stage – and have watched this become a bestseller in our comprehensive training program portfolio.”

The training gives workshop employees the necessary key competencies to master the complex range of topics surrounding future technology.

ZF Aftermarket’s modular blended learning concept ensures optimal success whilst reducing attendance time and lowering costs.

The training course offer is continuously updated in line with market need, and July 2019 will see the debut of: ‘Introduction to Electrical Engineering’.

Another new addition to the ZF [pro]Tech family is ‘start’.

Complementing, yet operating independently of the training courses, ZF Tech ‘start’ is a technical support and information hub which is available to garages via distributors for an affordable, one-off fee.

For further information, please click here.

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