Axalta To Build New, State-Of-The-Art Facility In The Netherlands

Axalta signed an agreement to develop a new, state-of-the-art facility in the Netherlands for its Dutch refinish business.

Once construction is completed, Axalta’s global refinish brands in the Netherlands – Cromax, Spies Hecker, Standox, and Syrox – will relocate to the new facility on Business Park Medel, both in Tiel.

The facility will also house Metalak BV.

“There has been a period of growth and change following our acquisition of Metalak in 2015,” said Adrien Schrobiltgen, Axalta’s VP for Refinish Systems in Europe, Middle East and Africa. “We have outgrown our current location’s ability to support us in the way in which we need it.”

Axalta’s plot in Business Park Medel is 12,000 square metres and will house, once completed, a large facility comprised of office space over three floors, a warehouse, and a new Axalta training centre as well as separate mixing room, which is part of Axalta’s direct business point of distribution, servicing both high-volume customers as well as local colour development.

“We are always looking to improve our level of support to our customers, so today, with a view to the future, we commit to building a state-of-the-art facility,” said Bas van de Ven, Axalta’s managing director for Refinish in the Netherlands “The new training centre will be able to meet the future needs of the market, while the new offices and sophisticated automated warehouse will allow us to take our daily operations to the next level and to attract and to retain outstanding talent.”

Ground is due to be broken on the site in October 2019, with an anticipated completion date by summer 2020. The facility will be operational and ready to move into by September 2020.

Adrien Schrobiltgen, Axalta VP for Refinish Systems in EMEA.

Solera’s Autodata Acquires AutoMate Training

Autodata Publishing Group, a Solera Holdings group company, has confirmed the acquisition of AutoMate Training, a provider of online technical training and professional development platforms to the automotive industry.

Founded and based in Sydney, Australia, Solera says AutoMate has rapidly expanded from a fledgling start-up to become a globally competitive player, offering automotive eLearning to thousands of automotive professionals and workshops in more than 60 countries. The company says AutoMate’s online training programmes are developed by a highly-experienced team of automotive experts and specialists, with the programmes combining cutting-edge 3D visualisation with comprehensive real-vehicle analysis.

Solera says that AutoMate and Autodata are both trusted and valued information service providers to more than 85,000 automotive workshops across the world, as well as corporate clients in the automotive service, maintenance and repair (“SMR”) industry. The company says Autodata itself is recognised as the go-to automotive data solution for workshops with many countries seeing 80 per cent of workshops choosing Autodata to meet their service, maintenance and diagnostics needs.

“Joining the Solera family is a logical and exciting next step on our strategic journey as a company,” said Jonathan Sampson, Managing Director and founder of AutoMate. “This union will see AutoMate’s renowned training programmes made available in new global markets and will ensure increased business growth through further product development. AutoMate’s eLearning expertise, combined with Autodata’s highly advanced diagnostic and repair data, promises to deliver new and existing customers a compelling suite of products for the automotive mechanic.”

“AutoMate’s innovative solutions and strong management team provide immediate value with Solera,” said Rod Williams, Managing Director of Autodata. “Together we provide immense value to Solera’s 400,000+ SMR users, enabling us to further capitalise on the opportunity to support both our existing users and beyond with AutoMate’s solutions.”

BASF Named 2018 GM Supplier Of The Year

BASF was named a 2018 General Motors (GM) Supplier of the Year for the 14th time since 2002. The award is presented by GM to suppliers who distinguish themselves by meeting performance metrics for quality, execution, innovation, and total enterprise cost.

“We hold our suppliers to a high bar,” said Steve Kiefer, GM Senior Vice President, Global Purchasing and Supply Chain. “They went above and beyond to deliver the innovations and quality that will help us earn customers for life.”

GM says award winners represent companies who provide products and services to GM in the areas of vehicle components, supply chain and logistics, customer care and aftersales, and indirect services.

With its broad array of colour solutions, modern paint processes, engineering plastics advancements and polyurethane technologies, BASF says it helps GM improve productivity and environmental performance, with its Coatings division providing its time- and resource-saving Integrated Paint Process to GM, while supplying many GM plants with advanced coating technologies.

“This award is a result of strong customer focus from the whole organisation. Our business relationship with GM is centred around innovation, performance and continuously enhancing the customer experience,” said Dirk Bremm, President, BASF’s Coatings division.

Parker Hannifin To Buy LORD Corporation

Parker Hannifin Corporation, a manufacturer of motion and control technologies, announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire LORD Corporation for approximately US$3.675 billion (A$5.22 billion) in cash. The transaction has been approved by the Board of Directors of both companies and is subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of applicable regulatory approvals.

LORD, a privately-held company founded in 1924, makes products that are used in the aerospace, automotive and industrial markets, with annual sales of around US$1.1 billion (A$1.56 billion). LORD has 3100 employees at 17 manufacturing and 15 research and development operations worldwide.

“With complementary business segments, coming together with Parker enables LORD to carry out our grander vision,” said Ed Auslander, President and CEO of LORD. “Parker is already a large tier-one supplier in many areas, allowing our business lines immediate access to growth, additional markets, applications and new customers. In addition, the two companies are very much aligned when it comes to core values, great business acumen and cultural fit.”

Parker-Hannifin employs about 58,000 people globally. Its revenues last year topped $14.5 billion (A$20.56 billion).

EC Fines Car Safety Equipment Suppliers € 368 Million In Cartel Settlement

The European Commission has fined Autoliv and TRW more than € 368 million for breaching EU antitrust rules. Takata was not fined as it revealed the cartels to the Commission.

According to the EC, the companies took part in two cartels for the supply of car seatbelts, airbags and steering wheels to European car producers. All three suppliers acknowledged their involvement in the cartels and agreed to settle the case.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy said: “This is the second time we fine car safety equipment suppliers for participating in a cartel. Components such as seatbelts and airbags are essential for the safety of the millions of people that use their car to drive to work or take their children to school every day. The three suppliers colluded to increase their profits from the sale of these life-saving components. These cartels ultimately hurt European consumers and adversely impacted the competitiveness of the European automotive sector, which employs around 13 million people in the EU.”

The three car equipment suppliers addressed in this decision exchanged commercially sensitive information and coordinated their market behaviour for the supply of seatbelts, airbags and steering wheels to the Volkswagen Group and the BMW Group. The coordination to form and run the cartel took place mainly through meetings at the suppliers’ business premises but also in restaurants and hotels, as well as through phone calls and e-mail exchanges.

Solera Breaks Ground On North America Research And Training Centre

Solera Holdings hosted a “ground-breaking” for its research and training centre, CESVI LIV Centre of North America (CESVI LIV NA), last week.

The ground-breaking ceremony, which took place in Justin, Texas, was performed by Chris Mullen, Executive Director of CESVI LIV NA, and Tony Aquila, founder, Chairman and CEO of Solera.

Solera says the facility will focus on providing “factual, credible and documented research” which will be disseminated throughout training and expert consultancy on advanced technology trends.

Research will span the automotive insurance, collision repair, vehicle manufacturer and vehicle owner industries. CESVI LIV NA will provide insight and deliver tools to reduce repair costs within the North American claims environment, and will also integrate OEM repair procedures into consultation and training that “promotes best practices in vehicle service, maintenance and repair”.

“This centre will add value to the automotive insurance industry,” said Chris Mullen, Executive Director of CESVI LIV NA.” “Our research, consultation, technology and training will provide data and insights into the most efficient and effective repair processes, which will then support better residual values and create more cost-efficient automotive repairs, ensuring safe vehicles get back on the road.”

Will German Manufacturers And Suppliers Ally Over Autonomous Cars?

Leading German car manufacturers could join forces to advance together in the race for autonomous cars, according to German media reports.

Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler, as well as suppliers Bosch and Continental are “evaluating” the possibility of an alliance to develop autonomous mobility, according to the German weekly Manager Magazin.

Earlier, the daily Handelsblatt had already held discussions between Daimler and BMW, while Bloomberg had reported preliminary talks between these two manufacturers in late 2018.

BMW, which already cooperates with Fiat and Intel, told AFP that “other companies are interested in a collaboration” around its “non-exclusive” platform for autonomous driving.

“Strategic partnerships and a large network of research and development are key success factors” because of the “substantial investment” necessary for the development of the autonomous car, explained a Volkswagen spokesman. Thus, the group “considers several projects in common with other companies in all regions of the world,” he added, refusing – like his counterpart at BMW – to specifically comment on the different press information.

Daimler, Continental and Bosch had no comment.

Last week, Volkswagen and Ford announced an alliance on vans and pickups to significantly reduce their production costs, while looking ahead to continuing discussions on a partnership in the field of electric and autonomous vehicles and mobility services.

According to Manager Magazin, the discussions between Volkswagen and Ford have not resulted in a wider agreement because the boss of VW, Herbert Diess, would prefer an alliance between German companies.

These discussions come at a time when the automotive industry is racing to develop these expensive technologies that are supposed to define the modes of transport of tomorrow.

The uncertainty and the sums involved encourage alliances: for example, Honda has recently invested in General Motors’ “Cruise” subsidiary, which is focused on autonomous technologies.

Volkswagen And Ford Launch Global Alliance

Volkswagen AG and Ford Motor Company announced their first formal agreements in a broad alliance that positions the companies to boost competitiveness and better serve customers in an era of rapid change in the industry.

Volkswagen CEO Dr. Herbert Diess and Ford CEO Jim Hackett confirmed that the companies intend to develop commercial vans and medium-sized pickups for global markets beginning as early as 2022. The alliance will drive significant scale and efficiencies and enable both companies to share investments in vehicle architectures that deliver distinct capabilities and technologies.

The companies estimate the commercial van and pickup cooperation will yield improved annual pre-tax operating results, starting in 2023.

In addition, Volkswagen and Ford have signed a memorandum of understanding to investigate collaboration on autonomous vehicles, mobility services and electric vehicles. Both companies have started to explore opportunities, and they have also said they were open to considering additional vehicle programmes in the future. The teams will continue working through details in the coming months.

“Over time, this alliance will help both companies create value and meet the needs of our customers and society,” said Hackett. “It will not only drive significant efficiencies and help both companies improve their fitness, but also gives us the opportunity to collaborate on shaping the next era of mobility.”

Diess added: “Volkswagen and Ford will harness our collective resources, innovation capabilities and complementary market positions to even better serve millions of customers around the world. At the same time, the alliance will be a cornerstone for our drive to improve competitiveness.”

The alliance, which does not entail cross-ownership between the two companies, will be governed by a joint committee. This committee will be led by Hackett and Diess along with including senior executives from both companies.

Ford and Volkswagen both have strong commercial van and pickup businesses around the globe, with popular nameplates such as the Ford Transit family and Ranger as well as the Volkswagen Transporter, Caddy and Amarok.

The companies’ collective light commercial vehicle volumes from 2018 totalled approximately 1.2 million units globally, which could represent the industry’s highest-volume collaboration as production scales.

Demand for both medium pickups and commercial vans is expected to grow globally in the next five years. The alliance will enable the companies to share development costs, leverage their respective manufacturing capacity, boost the capability and competitiveness of their vehicles and deliver cost efficiencies, while maintaining distinct brand characteristics.

Through the alliance, Ford will engineer and build medium-sized pickups for both companies which are expected to go to market as early as 2022. For both parties, Ford intends to engineer and build larger commercial vans for European customers, and Volkswagen intends to develop and build a city van.

PPG To Acquire Hemmelrath

PPG said it has reached a “definitive agreement” to acquire automotive coatings manufacturer Hemmelrath, a German manufacturer of coatings for automotive original equipment manufacturers.

“We are excited to add Hemmelrath to our robust and diversified automotive coatings offering,” said Michael McGarry, PPG Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “This acquisition is another step forward in our strategic growth plan that will provide further value to our customers and shareholders.”

Headquartered in Klingenberg, Germany, Hemmelrath is a family-owned manufacturer of OEMs. With more than 450 employees, the company operates manufacturing facilities in Klingenberg and Erlenbach in Germany, as well as Jilin in China, Duncan in South Carolina, USA and Indaiatuba in Brazil.

Hemmelrath supplies automotive plants worldwide and more than seven million vehicles are coated with its products each year.

“The fit between Hemmelrath and PPG is complementary,” said Rebecca Liebert, PPG Senior Vice President, Automotive Coatings. “The acquisition will enhance PPG’s automotive coatings offering and add formulating and manufacturing solutions.”

Volkswagen Toolmaking Opens 3D Printing Centre

The Volkswagen brand’s Toolmaking unit says it is adding a “highly advanced” 3D printing centre to its facilities in Wolfsburg, bringing the “most highly advanced generation of 3D printers” to the Volkswagen Group to enable the production of complex vehicle parts in the future.

“The 3D printing centre takes Volkswagen’s additive manufacturing activities to a new level,” said Dr. Andreas Tostmann, board member for production of the Volkswagen brand. “In two to three years’ time, three-dimensional printing will also become interesting for the first production parts. In the future, we may be able to use 3D printers directly on the production line for vehicle production,” Tostmann added.

VW says the new generation of 3D printers developed in cooperation with US manufacturer HP is the most modern within the Volkswagen Group and is based on the binder jetting process, which supplements the previous selective laser melting (SLM) process. Binder jetting not only makes metallic 3D printing considerably easier but also faster, while in future, it will be possible to manufacture production parts in addition to prototypes, according to Volkswagen.

At the opening ceremony, Oliver Pohl, Head of Additive Manufacturing, underlined the performance of the team which was said to have recorded outstanding achievements for the future since the start of conversion work a year ago. “Here, we have created an innovative centre which will be of tremendous strategic importance for Volkswagen in the future.”

“The inauguration of the 3D printing centre underlines the importance of Innovation Fund II, which makes investments like this possible,” said Works Council member Susanne Preuk. “The Works Council welcomes the fact that the company is opening up to new technologies and shaping them in a future-oriented way in the interest of the employees.”

To date, the Volkswagen Group says it has mainly used the SLM process for 3D printing with metals. In this process, the material used, such as steel, is applied to a base plate in a thin layer. A laser beam then melts the powder at the points where the component is to be created. The molten powder hardens, forming a solid material layer. The new printers at the centre will now allow the use of other 3D printing processes such as binder jetting. In this additive process, components are manufactured using a metal powder and a binder applied in layers. The metal part which has been printed is then “baked” in a sintering process. Volkswagen say in future, the various processes, which each have specific applications, will supplement each other in an ideal way.