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.

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.

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.”

Audio Version Of ‘The Secrets of America’s Greatest Body Shops’ Out Now

Audio Version Available Now On Audible, Soon On iTunes

Dave Luehr, author of The Secrets of America’s Greatest Body Shops, believes that right now is the best time in history to be in the collision repair business, but only for those with the right mindset. Luehr and his co-author, Stacey Phillips, announced the audio version of the highly-acclaimed industry book is now available to purchase.

“I felt that the book was very well received in the collision repair industry, and I could not be happier about that,” said Luehr. “However, understanding that many in the industry find it difficult to find the time to read, or just don’t like to read, we felt it necessary to make an audio version available.”

The audio version of the book is now available to purchase on Audible and will be available soon on iTunes. All three versions of the book – paperback, Kindle and audio – are available on Amazon and at www.bodyshopsecrets.com.

Throughout the book, which was released in April 2017, the authors share insightful lessons along with real-world stories of actual collision repairers who have discovered the six secrets that have propelled them to a much higher level than their competitors.

“I believe the book contains critical information for many shop leaders who are wanting to take advantage of the challenging times we face as an industry, so we decided we would do whatever is required to get this information out there to those who need it,” said Luehr.

Mike Anderson, Jeff Peevy and Petra Schroeder are among the industry experts included in ‘The Secrets of America’s Greatest Body Shops’.

The authors invite body shop owners around the world to join the conversation and share their stories about how their business has changed since reading the book. Visit the book’s Facebook page and post a story and photo with the hashtag #myshopsecret.

BASF Named A General Motors Supplier Of The Year For 13th Time

General Motors (GM) has named BASF a 2017 GM Supplier of the Year for 13th time since 2002. The award is presented to suppliers who distinguish themselves by meeting performance metrics for quality, execution, innovation, and total enterprise cost.

“This is an opportunity for General Motors to honour those suppliers who are truly the best of the best,” said Steve Kiefer, GM senior vice president, Global Purchasing and Supply Chain. “The automotive industry is transforming at an incredible rate. The relationships we have with our supply base means everything when it comes to delivering a strong vehicle line-up today and the cutting-edge vehicles and mobility services of tomorrow.”

Award winners represent companies who provide products and services to General Motors in the areas of vehicle components, supply chain and logistics, customer care and aftersales, and indirect services. With its broad array of colour solutions and modern paint processes, BASF’s Coatings division helps GM improve productivity and environmental performance. BASF provides its time and resource saving Integrated Paint Process to GM and supplies a majority of its plants in North America with its world class CathoGuard® 800 electrocoat, among other technologies.

“The long-standing and trustful relationship between GM and BASF is an example of what can be accomplished through a successful partnership,” said Teressa Szelest, President, Market and Business Development North America at BASF. “Together, we are collaborating to drive innovation, customer service, safety and sustainability, and open new pathways for the future of mobility.”

Chief To Distribute Celette Equipment In North And South America, China

Chief has reached an agreement with Celette France SAS for Chief to distribute Celette heavy-duty truck collision repair equipment in North America, South America and China.

“As truck manufacturers modernise their manufacturing methods and incorporate new materials and technology in their vehicles, collision repair shops need new tools, equipment and repair methodology to properly repair those vehicles after they’re damaged in a collision,” says Lee Daugherty, Chief director of collision sales – the Americas. “Working with Celette lets us offer shops a full line of heavy-duty collision repair equipment from a single, trusted source — the local Chief distributor.”

Chief reintroduced a heavy-duty collision repair equipment line for repairing trucks, trailers, buses and other large vehicles in 2015. It currently includes frame racks, lifts, a heavy-duty rivet gun and other equipment.

NSF International Appoints Scott Dunfee Global MD of Automotive Certification

NSF International, a global organization with more than 70 years of independent testing, auditing and certification expertise, including extensive experience in the automotive supply chain, has appointed Scott Dunfee Global Managing Director of Automotive Certification. Dunfee brings more than 20 years of insurance, technical leadership and repair expertise to NSF International.

NSF International provides oversight and accountability to the automotive parts and repair industry by ensuring manufacturers, distributors, repair shops and recyclers provide high-quality products and services at each step of the supply chain. As Global Managing Director, Dunfee will oversee NSF International’s automotive certification programs working closely with automotive parts manufacturers, distributors, collision repair shops, automotive recyclers and insurers.

“Scott’s extensive insurance and aftermarket parts and service expertise will help address the needs of NSF International clients and other stakeholders throughout the automotive supply chain, while expanding services both in the U.S. and globally,” said Bob Frayer, Sr. Global Managing Director of Automotive Certification at NSF International. “Scott is the ideal fit for this position and I look forward to working with him to grow and advance the program.”

Prior to joining NSF International, Dunfee worked 23 years for Nationwide Insurance. During his tenure with Nationwide’s material damage claims operation, Dunfee played a leading role in the development and implementation of several key automotive parts and distributor-based initiatives. Most recently, he successfully served as a Material Damage Claims Director in the insurer’s centralised claims operation.