Symach And DCR Systems Form Strategic Partnership

Symach has announced a strategic partnership with DCR (Diversified Collision Repair) Systems. As part of the new collaboration, the two companies will combine their strengths to build what Symach CEO Osvaldo Bergaglio refers to as “tomorrow’s workshop.”

“It’s clearly a relationship that will allow us to develop tomorrow’s workshops and utilise the strengths of each company not only to put together the ‘super shop’ but also the ‘super team’ to operate it,” said Michael Giarrizzo, CEO and President of DCR Systems. “It’s exciting to be on the cutting edge and be able to work with another forward-thinking company.”

“DCR uses a fantastic process-based production system that standardises and streamlines each procedure and eliminates many of the inefficiencies associated with auto body repairs,” said Bergaglio. “It is very complementary to the Symach system and we are really excited about working together.

Founded in 2001, Symach offers a complete range of body shop equipment for the collision repair industry, including its unique FixLine repair process, SPAP (Symach Paint Application Process) and DryTronic robotic technology for drying paint in a less than a minute.

DCR Systems was founded in 2004 and is owned by Giarrizzo and partners. The Ohio and Atlanta-based business sets up accident repair facilities based on lean manufacturing principles for automotive dealerships looking to outsource their operations.

Moving forward, Symach plans to sell new collision repair facilities in the USA market that will operate under the DCR standard model. In addition, DCR Systems will offer a turn-key franchise-like model for dealers. In both scenarios, Symach equipment will be utilised and training will be provided.

When Giarrizzo first met Bergaglio a couple of years ago, he said he was impressed with the robotics technology being designed, manufactured and sold by the Italian-based company. The two business owners spent time in body shops set up by DCR Systems as well as some recent installations by Symach in Canada.

The business owners said they soon discovered the commonalities of the two companies. For example, the DCR System’s proprietary model involves the layout of the rail system, which allows vehicles to move through the paint line. This is similar to what Symach does as well in its layout process.

“It was really eye-opening seeing what the company has already done,” said Giarrizzo. “We started to feel the synergy between the two companies.”

Both Symach and DCR Systems say they focus on continuous workflow in the body shop and a process-centered environment. The goal is to ensure the team understands the required pace so that the steps of the process are interdependent and must work in sequence. The desired outcome is to have all vehicles go through the shop uninterrupted and ensure they are repaired in a very predictable amount of time.

“DCR Systems specialises in fostering a team environment with very strict validation stages that maximises touch time and minimises waste,” said Bergaglio. “It’s about speed and first-time quality, so nothing has to be redone.”

“As an industry, we can never stop seeking improvement not only in technology, but also in the way we do work,” said Giarrizzo. “This is truly tomorrow’s technology and groundbreaking for the industry. The folks at Symach are innovators – they are engineers and inventors and so are we, making it a powerful relationship.”

Terrence Hahn Appointed New Axalta Chief Executive Officer

Axalta Coating Systems today announced that its Board of Directors has appointed Terrence Hahn as Chief Executive Officer, effective 4 September, 2018, succeeding Charlie Shaver, who served as Axalta’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer since 2013. Hahn will also serve on Axalta’s board of directors, expanding the board’s size from eight to nine directors.

Hahn was most recently President and Chief Executive Officer of Honeywell International Inc.’s Home and Building Technologies group. Shaver, who has chosen to step down as Chief Executive Officer to pursue a unique professional opportunity, will remain on Axalta’s board and serve as Non-Executive Chairman, working closely with Hahn to ensure a seamless leadership transition.

“On behalf of Axalta’s board, I want to welcome Terrence Hahn to the company,” said Shaver. “We are confident that Terrence is a great choice to lead Axalta going forward. His accomplishments as an executive with over a decade of domestic and international experience across multiple business groups at Honeywell, along with his nearly two decades of previous experience in a variety of leadership roles at air products and chemicals, make him a terrific fit for Axalta.

“Since I became CEO more than five years ago, we have prudently managed Axalta’s business and balance sheet, positioning the company to capitalise on opportunities as they arise and generate long-term shareholder value. I am very proud of our achievements as well as our excellent prospects for the future. I recently informed the board that I was considering stepping down as CEO and, consistent with our long-term succession planning, the board commenced a search for a potential successor CEO to build on Axalta’s accomplishments and lead the company forward. We identified Terrence as having a proven track record of success, and the right expertise, experience, and personality for Axalta. I look forward to a successful transition of the Chief Executive Officer role to Terrence and a wonderful partnership with him in my role as Chairman.

“Serving as CEO of Axalta has been an honour and a privilege. It was an extremely difficult decision to step away from an executive role at Axalta, but I am confident that Terrence has the right skillset to take Axalta to the next level of growth and development.”

“I am honoured to join Axalta at this dynamic time for the company and the coatings industry,” said Hahn. “Axalta has leading positions, a terrific executive team, strong global presence and top brands. I am excited about the tremendous opportunity at Axalta to drive organic growth through innovative and value-add offerings that will deepen existing customer relationships and attract new customers, as well as add inorganic growth through strategic acquisitions. I appreciate the board’s confidence in me and look forward to working with Charlie and the Axalta leadership team to help drive the next phase of Axalta’s growth and build shareholder value.”

Mark Garrett, Presiding Director of Axalta’s board, added: “On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Charlie for his outstanding service to Axalta. As CEO, he led the company’s separation from its former parent and oversaw Axalta’s initial public offering and listing on the New York Stock Exchange. Under his leadership, Axalta has made tremendous strides, driven by a resolute commitment to customer service and innovation. We are very pleased that he will continue to serve as Chairman. We are confident in a seamless transition of leadership to Terrence Hahn. With his experience and impressive track record he is well-suited to lead Axalta’s continued growth in the coatings industry.”

Thatcham Research’s Peter Shaw To Step Down As Chief Executive

Thatcham Research has announced that Peter Shaw is stepping down from his role as Chief Executive with immediate effect due to ill-health.

Shaw, who has been Chief Executive as well as a Board member for seven years, has steered Thatcham Research through a period of notable change, with the organisation increasingly recognised as a global centre of excellence for assisted and automated driving assessment and testing.

He initiated a research strategy which reflected this fast pace of change in the automotive market – and more importantly, kept ahead of it with thought leadership and rapid development of safety standards.

The recruitment process to identify his successor is now underway. Strategic duties at Thatcham Research will continue to be managed by Neale Phillips and Ruth McRitchie.

The Thatcham Research Board is drawn from its 24-member insurers, who fund the essential research on vehicle safety, security, personal injury and accident damage repair.

Graham Gibson, Chief Claims Officer at Allianz Insurance and Chairman of Thatcham Research, said: “Peter has achieved so much for the business and our position in the industry since joining us.

“He has played a pivotal role in driving a new focus upon testing and influencing vehicle safety and security performance to minimise motor insurance costs. This has been hugely important due to the technological advances in active and passive car safety.

“Under Peter’s leadership, Thatcham Research has never been more relevant than it is today, and keeping our members informed and educated will remain vital.

“We would like to extend our sincere thanks to Peter who has been an outstanding Chief Executive and Board member since 2011. I’d also like to extend my gratitude to Ruth and Neale, who have maintained our strategic agenda so strongly in the interim period.”

Car Manufacturer Use of the Word ‘Autonomous’ Dangerous: Thatcham Research

Thatcham Research and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) issued an urgent call to car manufacturers and legislators for greater clarity around the capability of vehicles sold with technology that does more and more driving on behalf of motorists. The call comes in the wake of growing reports of people crashing while over-relying on technology which is not yet designed to drive the car independently.

The risks to drivers have been outlined in the new ‘Assisted and Automated Driving Definition and Assessment’ paper, which has identified dangerous grey areas associated with some driver support technologies. These include misleading names, like Autopilot and ProPilot, given to systems by car manufacturers, how and when drivers should take back control of their vehicles and systems which are designed to work in specific situations only (e.g. on motorways) but can also function anywhere.

Matthew Avery, Head of Research at Thatcham Research said, “We are starting to see real-life examples of the hazardous situations that occur when motorists expect the car to drive and function on its own. Specifically, where the technology is taking ownership of more and more of the driving task, but the motorist may not be sufficiently aware that they are still required to take back control in problematic circumstances. Fully Automated vehicles that can own the driving task from A to B, with no need for driver involvement whatsoever, won’t be available for many years to come. Until then, drivers remain criminally liable for the safe use of their cars and as such, the capability of current road vehicle technologies must not be oversold.”

Avery continues, “It begins with how systems are named and described across car manufacturer marketing materials and the driver’s handbook. Names like Autopilot or ProPilot are deeply unhelpful, as they infer the car can do a lot more than it can. Absolute clarity is needed, to help drivers understand the when and how these technologies are designed to work and that they should always remain engaged in the driving task.”

James Dalton, Director of General Insurance Policy at the ABI, said, “Insurers are major supporters of efforts to get assisted and autonomous vehicles onto the UK’s roads. Given the part human error plays in the overwhelming majority of accidents, these technologies have the potential to dramatically improve road safety. However, we are a long way from fully autonomous cars which will be able to look after all parts of a journey and in the meantime, it remains crucial that all drivers are alert and ready to take back full control at a moment’s notice. Manufacturers must be responsible in how they describe and name what their vehicles can do, and the insurance industry is ready to hold them to account on this.”

Mitsubishi Motors Thailand Officially Opens Training Facility in Pathum Thani

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) announced that Mitsubishi Motors (Thailand) Co., Ltd. (MMTh), its exclusive producer and distributor in Thailand, has officially opened a new training facility, the Education Academy, in Pathum Thani.

The official opening ceremony was held with Don Samitakasettrin, Lamlukka District Chief Officer and other related parties along with Osamu Masuko, CEO of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.

Osamu Masuko said “Mitsubishi Motors has always been focusing on Thailand. The Education Academy reflects our commitment here in Thailand at the same time as the country is shifting towards the economy.”

“The Education Academy will play a vital role in providing our people with knowledge and skills enablement to prepare them for the new values we want to deliver to our drivers.” Masuko added.

The Education Academy project started in September 2017. Today the two-story building with around 8700 square metres function area stands tall on more than 17,700 square metres Mitsubishi Motors Thailand premise in Lamlukka, Phathum Thani.

Morikazu Chokki, President and CEO, Mitsubishi Motors (Thailand) Co., Ltd. said during the opening ceremony: “Education Academy will contribute significantly in our ‘software’ development with the focus on sales and aftersales services enhancement.”

Currently, Education Academy serves 100 – 150 people daily including Service Advisors, Technicians, Part Staff, Sales Consultants, Customer Relations Officers, and Mitsubishi Motors Thailand staff.

“What the staff will be taught and be trained here is not just about technical proficiency. They will be valued as a staff with ambition to explore. So that they can empower our drivers to explore new things and progress in life.” Chokki concluded.

Symach Installs FixStation Equipment At Mervyn’s The Body Shop In Canada

Symach announced the installation of its FixLine system at Mervyn’s The Body Shop in Kelowna, British Columbia.

The FixLine system consists of a layout and repair process that combines Symach’s patented Drytronic technology, specialized robots and the Symach Paint Application Process (SPAP) painting cycle.

“The FixStation is a modern and innovative solution that will ensure high productivity for Mervyn’s The Body Shop,” said Osvaldo Bergaglio, CEO of Symach. “The hybrid solution works as a spray booth and a workstation in one area and will allow one of Mervyn’s technicians to perform three to four repairs a day without moving the vehicle.”

Established more than 40 years ago in the Okanagan area of British Columbia, Mervyn’s prides itself on providing the highest quality repair and customer satisfaction.

“It’s all about staying on top and being the best we can be for us and for the customer,” said Jason Agostino, owner of Mervyn’s. “Symach’s equipment is helping us fulfill that.”

Mervyn’s The Body Shop is a very old Kelowna company purchased by Peter Facinek in the early 2000s. Agostino came on board as the body shop manager soon after and became co-owner of the business. Since then, he has run the shop on a day-to-day basis with Facinek as a consultant and silent partner. Agostino’s wife, Rosy, also helps in the business.

The owners always planned to open a new location and over the last several years, they have been working on the design.

During this time, they found out about Symach equipment from attending an AkzoNobel Acoat Selected performance group meeting.

“We are continually investigating newer and better ways to repair and finish damaged vehicles to ensure that customers are 100 per cent satisfied,” he said. “We learned that Symach builds exactly what we were look for,” said Agostino.

Facinek first went to Ontario to visit another collision repair facility using the equipment and then traveled to Italy to see Symach’s operation first-hand. Following that trip, Mervyn’s decided to purchase Symach’s FixLine system, two Fly dry robots and one easy dry robot in addition to five lifts.

“We already had the layout designed for the new location,” said Agostino. “Symach modified it to fit the equipment and we decided to buy the whole package rather than try to piecemeal everything together.”

It was installed in November 2017 and Symach trained all of the technicians. It has been operational since February.

“We’ve always used team systems and run a processed-centered environment using other tools, so it was a smooth transition for us to use Symach’s quality equipment,” said Agostino.

The baking equipment uses a slightly different application, but he has found that it has been working out well.

Although they are still in their infancy stages using Symach’s equipment, they have found it has already helped with cycle time in the shop. “What used to take us one and a half hours, now takes 20 minutes,” said Agostino. “You don’t have to wait for dry times. They told us that, but you never really believe it until you see it.”

Since installing the equipment, Agostino said it has helped the shop stay cleaner and it’s a nicer environment for his 13 employees to work, many of whom have worked there long-term. By installing the lifts, it has also been easier on the body technicians. Overall, he said has been impressed with the dependability and predictability of the equipment. “When I’m painting a vehicle, I know it will be ready at a certain time,” he said.

Mervyns offers a lifetime written guarantee on all of the work completed. “An important component of this is ensuring our paint booths and spraying equipment are state-of-the-art,” said Agostino. “We are committed to leading the collision repair industry in technical skills, equipment and quality of work and Symach equipment is helping us do that.”

Axalta Inaugurates New Coating Manufacturing Facility in India

Axalta inaugurated its new coating manufacturing plant at Savli, Vadodara in Gujarat, India. Approximately 70 guests, including local government officials, customers, university representatives, media, and employees attended the opening ceremony, which Axalta Chairman and CEO Charlie Shaver presided.

The 5,200 square meter plant is part of Axalta’s Savli manufacturing site that produces Axalta coatings for refinish, automotive parts, and commercial vehicle customers. The new plant will double Axalta’s coating manufacturing capacity to meet the growing demand for coatings in light vehicles, commercial vehicles, and industrial segments.

Since 2016, Axalta has opened a new and expanded Technology Centre in Savli dedicated to the Indian automotive segment. Its new Axalta India headquarters in Gurugram, within the National Capital Region, also hosts Axalta’s global IT and other back office functions. Axalta has continued to further invest and upgrade its refinish training centres throughout India to better serve customers in the growing market.

“These facilities and the significant investments made in the past couple of years are in sync with Axalta’s strong commitment to India to deliver innovative and comprehensive coating solutions to our customers in every sector of the automotive market and in other industry sectors. I am confident that Axalta’s global expertise in coatings will play a significant role in India, catering to our customers’ specific coatings requirements,” said Shaver.

Taking advantage of the booming automotive market, Axalta Savli’s new plant will be able to expand production capacity of both high and low temperature cured coatings. The facility is also designed to scale up to produce waterborne coatings for customers’ conversion to more sustainable solutions. The new plant employs environmentally responsible processes and is designed for low emissions. This helps to ensure a healthy environment for the community and a sustainable future for Axalta.

Allianz’s Graham Gibson Appointed As Chairman Of Thatcham Research

Thatcham Research, the independent voice of automotive safety and repair, has appointed Allianz’s Graham Gibson as the new Chairman of its Board.

As chief claims officer at Allianz Insurance Gibson is an industry advocate with extensive experience in a range of market initiatives across claims and personal injury. He also serves on a variety of insurer related groups, including Board Member for the Insurance Fraud Bureau.

“I am excited to have been given this opportunity to work closely with Thatcham Research. Their passion and commitment to improving automotive safety and security demonstrates a dedication to both the insurance industry and vehicle manufacturers”. Said Gibson.

“I have seen first-hand the hard work and innovative research carried out by Thatcham Research having been an active member of its board since 2012. I look forward to working with members of the team and producing some exciting research.”

Gibson replaces current Chairman Ian Currie, who is retiring from his role as UK Motor and Injury Claims Director at RSA, after two-and-a-half years at the helm.

The Thatcham Research Board is drawn from its 24-member insurers, who fund the essential research on vehicle safety, security, personal injury and accident damage repair. As well as crash and track research, Thatcham Research tests and accredits crash repair parts, vehicle repair technicians, and a number of other products and services within the collision repair industry for insurers, motor manufacturers, equipment manufacturers and suppliers.

A founder member of the international Research Council for Automobile Repairs (RCAR), Thatcham Research has also been a member of the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) since 2004.

Mitsubishi Motors Unveils Indonesian Electric Vehicle Research Scheme

Mitsubishi Motors has presented 8 units of Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid SUV, 2 units of i-MiEV pure electric vehicle, and 4 units of battery charger to the Indonesian Government.

The top-of-the-range vehicles are being provided by Mitsubishi Motors as part of a joint study with the Ministry of Industry (MOI) into the development of Indonesia’s rapidly growing electric vehicle infrastructure.
The vehicles will feature in a series of studies modelling how Indonesia’s existing transport infrastructure can accommodate electric vehicles.

The studies will assess the use of electric vehicles in different environments, including cities, tourist areas and remote islands.

Meanwhile, the study will track the energy management potential of electric vehicles, examining the use of the Outlander PHEV as a storage resource.

Osamu Masuko, Chief Executive Officer of Mitsubishi Motors, said: “Today is an important moment, for Mitsubishi Motors, for the Indonesian Government and for the people of Indonesia who stand to benefit from increased car ownership, more connected communities and a safer, greener environment.”

Masuko added: “We see Indonesia as one of the most promising markets in south-east Asia, with a young population eager to unlock the opportunities car ownership provides. These opportunities bring with them challenges, such as balancing the drive towards greater car ownership with the need to protect the environment.”

The ceremony is the latest in a string of major announcement from Mitsubishi Motors in Indonesia, with the Corporation having unveiled the new Bekasi production facility in April last year.

Mitsubishi Motors has been trading in Indonesia since the formation of the company in 1970s, and has strong relationships with local partners across the country.

IAG Reviewing Asian Operations

Insurance Australia Group, the country’s biggest general insurer by market share, is conducting a strategic review of its Asian operations, including considering selling off units in the region.

The company says in a statement that as part of its Asia strategy, it has focused on growth via market consolidation and increased ownership. IAG’s current assessment is that such opportunities are limited, resulting in its decision to conduct a strategic review of the options available for its Asian businesses.

“We have always taken a measured approach to Asia and we believe this is the right time to review the immediate and longer term strategic options for our individual Asian businesses given the limited expansion opportunities,” IAG Managing Director and CEO Peter Harmer said.

This review is expected to be concluded by the end of 2018.

“The options could range from, if we had the opportunity, to investing more capital under conditions we think are appropriate, all the way through to disposing of assets,” Harmer said.

IAG reveals that the Asian division contributed a profit of A$15 million in the six months to 31 December 2017, compared to A$2 million in the corresponding period the previous year. The increase is attributed in part to recovery in Thailand and growth in India.

The 1H18 results, though, include a writedown of A$50 million (US$39 million), included in the amortisation and impairment expense line, following a review of carrying values applicable to the respective Asian businesses.

IAG, which specialises in motor and property insurance, has invested about A$850 million in the region since 1998 and has a presence in five Asian markets – Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and India.

IAG’s net profit increased by 24 per cent to A$551 million in the six months ended 31 December 2017, helped by higher fees and reserve releases. Gross written premiums rose by 0.6 per cent to A$5,834 million for the half-year, helped by rate increases. The company expects “low single-digit growth” in gross premiums for the full year to 30 June 2018.