VACC Celebrates 100 Years Of Service To The Victorian Automotive Industry

Leading Victorian industry association, the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) turns 100 today.

To mark the start of a three-day celebration, a bronze memorial plaque will be installed on VACC’s founding home, Cahill Chambers, formally known as the Bendigo Chamber of Commerce at View Point.

Additionally, the VACC Executive Board will sit for a special board meeting at Bendigo Town Hall, welcomed by the City of Greater Bendigo Mayor, Margaret O’Rourke.

VACC Chief Executive Officer, Geoff Gwilym said all VACC’s centenary celebrations will take place in Bendigo.

“We were determined to do so in acknowledgement of where we come from, and to say thank you to the people of Bendigo. Regional Victoria is very important to VACC, with half of our members residing there. Regional members have also been incredibly loyal over the years.”

Long-standing VACC members include Wilson Bolton of Horsham, which has just renewed its membership for the 100th time, Edneys of Leongatha which joined in 1920, and Donalda Motor Service in Maffra, which joined in 1925. Wangaratta Toyota has been a VACC member since 1927 and Bendigo business, Innes Motors joined VACC in 1927.

Formed on 20 September 1918 in Bendigo by three local motor dealers, brothers Henry and Percy Rickards, and Montague Simes, VACC was created to protect the local automotive industry from being overwhelmed by larger, overseas competitors.

One-hundred years later, VACC is one of Australia’s largest and most influential employer associations, with more than 5000 business-owner members.

While celebrating it’s past, VACC is also looking to the future. The association recently sold its St Kilda Road home of 60 years, VACC House, and has purchased land in North Melbourne where a new head office will be built.

“VACC’s new headquarters will be modern, fit for purpose and a statement of the chamber’s future focus,” said Gwilym.

BASF Opens Modular Lab For Automotive OEM Coatings At Its Münster Site

BASF’s Coatings division has opened a new laboratory for automotive OEM coatings at its Münster site in Germany. The modular “Lean Lab” concept aims to ensure optimised, digitalised and transparent processes and efficient use of resources in the laboratory area throughout Europe.

BASF says its lab employees’ discrete working processes and the use of standardised and automated processes allow the company to meet future market requirements quickly and flexibly. In line with this, the workforce in Münster is supported by a lab dosing machine that was specially developed for BASF and is the only one of its kind in the coatings industry, according to the company.

“BASF cooperates very closely with all major automotive manufacturers worldwide to develop advanced coatings technologies,” said Dirk Bremm, President of BASF’s Coatings division.

“Through the digitalisation of processes, optimised use of resources, and automation, we can respond even more efficiently and address our customers’ needs.”

Since 2014, BASF says it has invested €24 million to completely overhaul an existing laboratory building for this purpose, which included adding an extra story. The building now features four bright and airy laboratory levels with spacious offices and state-of-the-art lab workplaces that are all digitally linked. Discrete work processes are intelligently designed to foster customer-specific product developments, manufacture paint samples and perform application tests.

An optimised logistics concept also ensures that all materials for daily work – and for this work only – are available, which positively impacts resource efficiency. A lab dosing machine that is unique in the coatings industry and was specifically built for the lab in Münster, facilitates work and assures quality. At 12 metres long and weighing eight tonnes, it can manufacture standard formulas from over 300 liquid raw materials.

“It is said that digitalisation affects everyone,” said Karl-Josef Laumann, Minister of Labour, Health and Social Affairs of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. “BASF’s Lean Lab clearly demonstrates how certain occupations, such as that of a laboratory technician for coatings, are being redefined.

“It is still about researching the features and appearance of colours and paints, but it takes place in a high-tech environment today. Young people who take this job need knowledge in chemistry, technology and IT alike. This proves to me that vocational training is modern. It is attractive. It is the starting point of a career.”

All job orders and the associated experiments within the lab are digitally stored and documented, which promotes transparency, reproducibility and knowledge transfer among the individual sites.

“The Lean Lab in Münster is our pilot project,” said Wolfgang Reckordt, Product Development Europe Automotive OEM Coatings at the BASF Coatings division. “Since late 2017, we have been gathering experience that we can use for introducing the Lean Lab at other sites in Europe – in Würzburg, Germany; Guadalajara, Spain; and Clermont, France.

“Lean Lab is our new European standard and will open up many possibilities for us to intensify product development and respond flexibly to new challenges.”

(From left) Minister Karl-Josef Laumann; Wendela-Beate Vilhjalmsson, Münster City Mayor; Susanne Richert, Lean Lab Project Manager; and Dirk Bremm.

PPG To Build New Paint And Coatings R&D Centre In Tianjin, China

PPG has announced the acquisition of land in Tianjin, China where it plans to build a new, state-of-the-art paint and coatings research and development (R&D) centre.

Plans for the facility, which will be located in the Tianjin Economical and Technological Development Area (TEDA) and is scheduled to be completed in 2021, are currently being finalised.

The company says the new facility will be part of its efforts to continue strengthening its R&D footprint to better serve customers in China, across the Asia-Pacific region and globally. It will service all of PPG’s strategic business units.

“PPG continues to enhance its research and development capabilities to ensure consistent, ongoing innovation and service to customers,” said David Bem, PPG Vice President Science and Technology, and Chief Technology Officer. “The new Tianjin R&D centre will best position the company to leverage scale, promote collaboration and continue enhancing our capabilities.”

AMA / Gemini Joins Tradiebot And Swinburne University In Repair Technology Collaboration

Australia’s AMA / Gemini Group has thrown its weight behind Industry 4.0 innovator Tradiebot Industries’ Repair-Bot project being developed in conjunction with Swinburne University.

With backing from the Australian Government’s Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC), the stage one, A$1.2 million collaborative Repair-Bot project is making use of 3D printing technologies and robotics along with novel materials to enable automated rapid repair service for plastic car parts.

Welcoming the new partnership, Tradiebot Industries Founder Mario Dimovski said: “Commitment from leading industry players such as the AMA / Gemini Group is a positive indication we are on track in solving current obstacle in the automotive collision repair industry around the repairs of plastic components.”

“We look forward to building our relationship with the AMA / Gemini Group as we work together towards developing new technologies, skills, materials and complex automated collision repair systems,” Dimovski said.

Dave Calder, Corporate General Manager, AMA / Gemini Group, summarised: “With advances in vehicle technology, parts costs rising and skills availability ever challenging, we are constantly looking at ways to advance the industry, refine our operation and continually deliver on our ability to provide value to our clients and customers.”

“Innovation is core to our business and we are delighted to be collaborating with the leaders in this space, Tradiebot Industries and Swinburne University. The research and development of augmented repair processing, 3D printing, robotics and the advancement in industry 4.0 technologies is a perfect fit and positive outputs of our collaboration will generate immense value to the automotive repair industry.”

Swinburne University of Technology’s Dr Mats Isaksson said: “The Swinburne research team is excited to welcome AMA / Gemini as a collaborator on the Repair-Bot project with Tradiebot Industries. My team and I look forward to the added industry expertise that David Calder and his team will offer.

“This sector is highly concentrated and ferociously competitive, so a solution like the Repair-Bot has the potential to be truly transformational, using Industry 4.0 technologies to reduce material wastage, ease the pain of ever more complex and restrictive design elements, and take on routine tasks in an increasingly tight skilled labour market.”

As well as improving procedures in the automotive repair industry, the collaboration is being seen as a further sign that the A$7 billion Australian industry has started down the path of digital transformation, with technologies that have the potential to lead the world.

IAG To Pay Increased Dividend To Shareholders

Insurance company IAG will pay a final fully-franked dividend of 20 Australian cents per share following the release of its results for the financial year ended 30 June 2018. The company says this brings the full year dividend to 34 cents, representing an increase of three per cent over FY17 and a cash payout ratio of 77.9 per cent.

IAG has also announced a A$592 million capital management initiative to distribute surplus capital to shareholders. The initiative, which is subject to shareholder approval at the AGM, amounts to 25 cents per ordinary share, and is expected to comprise of a capital return of 19.5 cents and a fully franked special dividend of 5.5 cents.

The 19.5 cents per share capital return will be accompanied by a related share consolidation, which is expected to reduce the number of shares on issue by approximately 2.4 per cent.

Car Craft Continues Expansion Strategy

Car Craft has added 11 independent businesses to the group, taking the network’s total number of shops across Australia to 108. The group’s growth is expected to continue after Car Craft directors unanimously agreed at a meeting in July to continue the strategy that has allowed the group to grow by 25 per cent in the last 24 months.

“The expansion in NSW, Victoria [and] the Northern Territory has been very encouraging, and with SA, QLD and WA also adding to the group’s footprint in their well-established markets, the ability to offer all our work providers the same outstanding service across the country is peace of mind,” said Car Craft General Manager Peter McMahon.

“This will not be growth for growth’s sake – we will continue to expand at a steady pace, inviting like-minded business owners to join Australia’s largest independently owned smash repair network and enjoy the benefits of being part of a group they own.”

The latest members to join the Car Craft Group are:

Garry and Dan Maher, L&M Smash Repairs
Nick Verri and John Syphers, NV Panel and Paint
Wesley Chapman, Urunga Smash Repairs
Dan & Megan Leishman, Gold Coast Collision Centre
Robert & Kym Wilson, Wilson Auto Accident Repair Centre
James Sardellis, George Danas and Daniel Edwards, Bell Collision Thomastown
Darren Robertson and Barbara Gilfillan, Dean’s Smash Repairs
Bill Kubeil, Somerville & District Panels
Ray and Sam Campbell, Broome Accident Repair Centre
Guido Merlo, Autocrash Express Repairs
Butch Bennett, Butch Bennett Crash Repairs

Axalta Services Offers Course To Help Body Shops Develop Leadership Skills

Axalta Coating Systems is offering an I-CAR approved leadership course nationally, designed for body shop owners, managers and team leaders to develop the skill set to become successful leaders within a team and business.

Named simply the Leadership Course, participants will walk away with an in-depth understanding of how to differentiate leadership from management, motivate and develop staff, build a positive working culture and create the next generation of leaders that will ultimately translate into happier, more effective staff and a strong business model.

Running a body shop requires leadership at all levels of management. Axalta Services says it understands the importance of this and the impact it can have on a body shop’s business sustainability. This led the team at Axalta to develop a leadership course that focuses on providing the right techniques to lead a team effectively and efficiently. The course targets:

  • Understanding the differences between leadership and management
  • Developing and motivating body shop staff to improve performance, retention and conflict resolution, whilst creating a positive and meaningful culture
  • Identifying the right management style for the business

The programme will show attendees how to effectively communicate, build and sustain better teams, create a positive culture in the business and keep staff engaged for the long term. Axalta says strategies designed to keep and develop staff have never been more critical as the pool of people from which to draw upon is dwindling at an alarming rate.

The I-CAR certified leadership course is taught using a highly interactive guided learning model to keep attendees engaged in the learning process. Numerous concepts will be available, including:

  • Identifying the task or functions critical to becoming a successful leader
  • Increasing retention and reducing absenteeism
  • Providing opportunities to network with other business leaders
  • Providing techniques to establish and improve employee engagement

Axalta’s Training Alliance with I-CAR means that upon the completion of the leadership course, an attendee will be awarded credit hours that can be applied towards the I-CAR Gold Class Professionals and Platinum Individual designations, or be used to meet role‑relevant annual training requirements. The training dates in 2018 are:

  • South Australia – 22 August
  • Queensland – 29 August
  • New South Wales – 25 September
  • Western Australia – 10 October
  • Victoria – 5 December

Full details on Axalta Services and the latest courses available can be found at www.axalta.com.au/AxaltaServices.

John Nagle Appointed icare CEO And Managing Director

The Chairman of icare, Michael Carapiet, has announced that John Nagle, icare’s current interim CEO and Managing Director, has been permanently appointed into the role following an extensive international search.

“Over the past two and a half years icare has undertaken significant transformation in providing customer-centric services to NSW businesses, injured workers and road users, builders and the wider NSW Government,” Carapiet said.

“John has a proven commitment to icare customers and our people and a thorough understanding and focus on our social purpose. He also has a commitment to continuous improvement and operational excellence,” he said.

“First as the leader of icare Workers Insurance and more recently as interim CEO and Managing Director, John has driven a more empathetic approach to delivering services while at the same time keeping focus on improving internal efficiencies.

“He embodies the commercial mind and social heart ethos of icare.

“The board is confident that with John at the helm, icare will build upon the tremendous improvements already made and, importantly, deliver outstanding services to our customers,” Carapiet said.

Nagle said he was excited and humbled by the opportunity to lead icare and serve the NSW community.

“I am privileged to work alongside some of the most passionate professionals in NSW who are all focused on ensuring we can meet the needs of our customers,” Nagle said.

“At icare we insure the people, businesses and assets that make NSW great. Often people call on us when they are at their most vulnerable and it’s paramount that we provide services with empathy and care.

“I look forward to leading icare into its next phase as we build upon our achievements and strive to improve the way we deliver services,” Nagle said.

Global-First Alliance Distribution Warehouse Opens In Australia

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi announced the opening of a state-of-the-art National Distribution Centre in Melbourne, Australia.

The shared parts and accessories warehouse is a first for Alliance member companies, which globally sold more than 10.6 million vehicles in 2017. It is designed to maximise productivity, efficiency and accuracy in order fulfillment, allowing manufacturers to enhance service to their national dealership networks.

The facility will become the new master warehouse for Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors’ national distribution network and will also service the INFINITI brand, which falls under the Alliance.

Based in the Melbourne suburb of Truganina, the purpose-built facility is strategically located between Melbourne’s sea container terminal and the airport. The facility has direct access to all interstate roads, is over 37,000 square metres in size, and is part of a CEVA super site that is the largest logistics facility in the southern hemisphere.

Housing more than 90,000 different parts, the Alliance National Distribution Centre manages 11 inbound sea containers daily, as well as airfreight and other local shipments. It brings in 2500 parts each day, while eight B-double transporters – as part of a same day service – deliver 8500 parts direct to dealerships.

Operating 24 hours a day and transporting parts across the entire country, the warehouse has space for approximately 100,000 parts and accessories. It includes a 677-square metre wet room with space for 700 pallets and employs over 90 staff.

One of the first six-star Green Star built and accredited buildings in Australia, it has a roof-mounted solar system to provide renewable energy, high bay LED lighting with daylight and motion sensors, early suppression fast response sprinkler systems and a rain water system for bathroom and garden irrigation.

It also incorporates industry-leading technologies and processes for the fast and efficient movement of automotive parts and accessories. These include a dedicated area for the storage of hazardous liquids such as oils, transmission and break fluids, and the 10 container docks allow for high volume inbound and outbound shipments.

Symach Partners With Alphabet Italia Fleet Management

Alphabet Italia Fleet Management SpA, the BMW Group’s car rental company, has chosen Symach as a technology partner to support its Alphabet Point collision shop network in achieving quality objectives in repair, production efficiency and speed of delivery to the customer.

Symach Srl is a leading company in collision shop processes and layouts in addition to being a manufacturer of body work equipment. Having already installed equipment in more than 90 shops all over the world with the FixLine production process, Symach will supply Alphabet’s network with its technological know-how and customised solutions for the design of new collision repair shops and the upgrade of existing ones. This will also include training on Symach repair processes.

“Alphabet is an excellent partner with whom we share the objectives to be achieved in terms of quality, efficiency and speed that are the foundation of Symach philosophy and process,” said Osvaldo Bergaglio, Symach Founder and President.

“The process, the layout and the technology of Symach can allow the collision shops of the Alphabet Point network to easily obtain the results that Alphabet expects.”

Roberto Sticca, Operations Director of Alphabet Italia Fleet Management S.p.A. said: “The partnership with Symach is complementing the one already consolidated with AkzoNobel / Sikkens and represents a further step forward in the research path of service excellence in terms of both performance and strategy integration. I am convinced that this partnership will bring great benefits to all the parties involved, because the know-how in product development and the efficiency of the processes are key factors for the quality of the service we want to offer our customers.”