Axalta Opens World’s Largest R&D Centre Dedicated To Coatings and Colour

Axalta has officially opened its Global Innovation Center, the largest coatings research and development centre in the world, with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

The company says the 16,260 square metre Global Innovation Center offers unparalleled specialty labs along with office space. Its location in Philadelphia’s Navy Yard enables collaboration amongst Axalta employees, business partners, and customers throughout the Philadelphia area and beyond.

“Axalta’s Global Innovation Center will become the central hub for our global research, product development, and technology initiatives where we develop and deliver the most innovative coatings products in the world,” said Robert Bryant, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Axalta. “Whether in colour technology, polymer and formulation chemistry, or application knowledge, the world-class capabilities and talent at Axalta’s Global Innovation Center will fuel new products and deliver the solutions that our customers want to grow their businesses into the future.”

Axalta says the Navy Yard location offers an attractive workplace for new talent, and the new campus was built with researchers in mind, modelling an academic setting with a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces to foster teamwork and creativity.

“Axalta’s team of scientists and technicians at the Global Innovation Center will develop next generation coatings products and keep pace with emerging application needs,” said Barry Snyder, Axalta’s Chief Technology Officer. “Regulations and customer demands call for newer technologically advanced coatings. The increasing use of light-weight plastic and composite materials in vehicles to save fuel require new coatings formulations. Developing products to suit these and other needs will be the mission of the Global Innovation Center and Axalta’s worldwide research and development network.”

After the public ribbon cutting ceremony, Axalta hosted more than 100 customers for a first look of the Global Innovation Center with tours of the facility.

AAAA Innovation Labs Supporting The Future Growth Of Australian Automotive Manufacturing

The Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) has announced the establishment of two automotive Innovation Labs based in Victoria and South Australia.

Co-funded by federal and Victorian government industry development grants, the operation of these new Innovation Labs will be led by the AAAA, with the association saying they will provide Australian automotive product designers, manufacturers and start-ups with the tools, technology, vehicles, expertise and collaborative environment required to innovate, design, test and manufacture for local and export markets.

Advanced manufacturing services including 3D scanning and printing, measuring sessions, technology transfer, Computer Aided Design and prototyping will be provided. Advanced product development and testing facilities will significantly reduce the time and cost in developing innovative new products for local and global markets.

According to AAAA Chief Executive Officer, Stuart Charity, the establishment of these Innovation Labs will grow an industry that is already punching well above its weight on the global stage.

“Australian automotive aftermarket industry manufacturers are currently producing parts, components and technology worth more than five billion dollars each year.

“Our companies are world leaders in the design and manufacture of specialty products with a technological advantage such as 4WD, high performance and motorsport components. These products are purchased on innovation, performance and features rather than on price. Our businesses have been successful because they have made significant investments in R&D and capital equipment and have a strong export focus.

“Establishing this collaborative infrastructure will position our industry for future domestic and export market growth by providing the innovators of the industry with the leading-edge technology and expertise needed to take Australian automotive industry innovations to the world, regardless of how large or small their businesses are.”

The AAAA has appointed automotive industry engineering specialist Luke Truskinger to the role of Innovation Lab Project Manager. Along with his Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering, the AAAA says Truskinger brings extensive local and international OEM experience to this new role and a history of supporting the Innovation Lab project, understanding the critical role that the labs will play to support the future growth of Australia’s automotive manufacturing industry.

The AAAA says it will be engaging in extensive discussions with Australia’s automotive parts and accessories industry to build on the significant work already undertaken as part of the Innovation Lab feasibility study. The next few months of the establishment phase will ensure that the equipment and services offered by the Australian Innovation Labs are closely aligned with the current and future needs of the Australian automotive manufacturing industry.

“We look forward to inviting automotive manufacturers to take advantage of the services and facilities that our Innovation Labs will offer to assist in taking their products from concept to domestic and global market success,” said Charity.

To find out more or to register your interest in the Automotive Innovation Labs, contact AAAA Innovation Lab Project Manager Luke Truskinger – [email protected].

Matrix Electronic Measuring Appoints Travis Young As President

Matrix Electronic Measuring Inc, inventors of the Matrix Wand 3D Measuring System, announced the promotion of Travis Young to President. Previously, Young served as the company’s Vice President of Business Development.

“Travis has a proven track record of leadership and business success throughout his career,” said Jan Srack, CEO and co-founder of the company. “During his tenure as Vice President, he injected a new and exciting energy into the company and it has delivered great results for our customers and employees.”

Prior to Matrix, Young was based in the United Kingdom and served as vice president of global business development for an industrial equipment manufacturer.

Cromax Appoints Kevin Torfs New EMEA Brand Manager

Axalta has appointed Kevin Torfs as the Cromax Brand Manager for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). The announcement coincides with the brand celebrating its fifth year in its incarnation as Cromax.

“At Cromax, we advocate productivity in everything we do,” said Torfs. “We have an esteemed history that dates back nearly 100 years. And, over the last five years, Cromax has gone from strength to strength thanks to the hard work and determination of everyone across the region. I look forward to continuing this momentum, ensuring that Cromax is a brand that drives productivity for its end users at all stages of the paint repair. Our next chapter will be nothing but exciting.”

Torfs has held various roles in Cromax for over 13 years, most recently including Digital Marketing Specialist. He is also a Certified Six Sigma Black Belt for Axalta, the company behind the global refinish brand and a leading global supplier of liquid and powder coatings.

The brand says it is focused on continuing to bring innovative products and services to its body shops, especially energy saving processes which help body shops with their overall energy costs.

“Our attention is also squarely on everything digital,” Torfs explains. “From the most advanced tools and processes to value-adding services, our body shops can achieve improved productivity and optimised workflows.”

Training is another area Torfs is passionate about.

“Continuous professional development is vital, because it doesn’t matter at what stage in their career a refinisher is, our industry is always evolving, so staying on top of new techniques and new products will ensure the best work in the body shop,” he says.

Torfs takes over from Dries Van den Bergh, who moves to a full-time role as Customer Relationship Management Leader for Axalta.

Axalta’s Acquire Quantum EFX Selected As Finalist For 2018 R&D 100 Awards

Axalta announced its Color Retrieval System featuring Acquire Quantum EFX was named a finalist for R&D Magazine’s 2018 R&D 100 Awards, which features the top 100 revolutionary technologies of the past year.

 The Axalta Color Retrieval System is the company’s proprietary online process designed to help customers obtain any colour information needed, quickly and more efficiently than ever before.

“The Axalta Color Retrieval System and the Acquire Quantum EFX are helping to digitize the body shop industry and reduce its reliance on matching colours by their visual appearance,” said Barry Snyder, Senior Vice President, Chief Technology Officer. “The System packs innovative colour technology into a lighter and faster unit to help customers create more accurate and faster colour matches, allowing for more vehicle throughput.

“Axalta is an innovation company and we invest four per cent of sales each year to developing new technologies. The Axalta Color Retrieval System and the Acquire Quantum EFX are new innovations paving the future for a more efficient body shop industry. We’re thrilled and honoured to be named a finalist in the R&D 100 Awards.”

The R&D 100 Awards is an annual awards programme which will be held in mid-November. The programme identifies and celebrates the top 100 revolutionary technologies of the past year. These awards recognise 100 of the top innovations across five categories: Analytical/Test, IT/Electrical, Mechanical Devices/Materials, Process/Prototyping, and Software/Services. The R&D 100 Awards Finalists were selected by an independent panel of more than 50 judges representing R&D leaders in a variety of fields.

Axalta’s Acquire Quantum EFX.

Ezi-Methods Achieves One Million Method Downloads

Auto Industry Consulting has announced that it recently achieved the milestone of one million repair methods downloaded by customers of its Ezi-Methods service.

Ezi-Methods gives repairers the ability to download the repair methods they need to ensure safe and efficient repairs are undertaken and to remain compliant with industry standards.

Over the last four years the number of subscribers has increased rapidly, with customers particularly appreciating the ease of use, reliability and value for money provided. The service is fully BSI 10125 compliant, and users can access their individual download history to demonstrate compliance at audit time.  The system can be accessed from a desktop, tablet or mobile phone, and as it takes just three clicks to download the correct method, no special training is required.

“We launched Ezi-Methods as a result of there being a significant demand for a repair methods system that is simple, reliable and reasonably priced, said Ben Cardy, Commercial Director of Ezi-Methods owner, Auto Industry Consulting Ltd.

“Providing over one million repair methods to customers since the launch is an incredible achievement for us and is testament to how hard we’ve worked to get here. However, it’s only the first step as we expect to do the second million far quicker than the first!”

Andrew Marsh, Engineering Director, added: “We continue to offer a collision repair centric service covering not only body panel but SRS, seats / seat belts, interior trim, ADAS, four-wheel alignment, steering / suspension / brakes as well as front end cooling pack. It is this that sets us apart and gives our clients the edge in the repair process. We thank all of our clients who have been with us so far, and look forward to serving the industry for many years to come.”

The lucky customer who downloaded the one millionth method was Paul Wood, Vehicle Damage Assessor at The ARC Group in Chippenham, UK. Presented with a bottle of champagne and an Ezi-Methods shirt customised with his name and the words “Millionth Method Man”, he commented: “Thanks loads to Ezi-Methods – not only for this excellent bottle, but for making our lives easier in the office here. It really is a great system to use, quick and simple, with everything you need instantly accessible. The guys on the helpdesk are super responsive and will get you anything you need ASAP.”

Ezi-Methods is available to customers in the UK for under £100 a month with unlimited usage. For more information visit ezimethods.com, or call Ben Cardy on +44 7923 563260 to set up a free trial.

Automechanika Frankfurt Kicks Off 25th Edition With New Records

Automechanika Frankfurt 2018 has opened its doors with more than 5000 exhibitors showing off their wares across the 12 halls of the Frankfurt Messe. The fair brings together the many trends, large and small, of the automotive aftermarket and collision repair industry, opening this year to an array of innovations in the fields of equipment, parts, accessories, management and services.

Detlef Braun, Member of the Executive Board of Messe Frankfurt, said: “Growth in the automotive aftermarket continues unabated; this is shown by a renewed participation in a record number of exhibitors for the 25th edition. This year we also expect guests from over 170 countries. They will be focusing on technological progress, knowledge transfer and forging new alliances.”

The best of the best entries for the Automechanika Innovation Awards were honoured at a presentation ceremony on the first day in the Forum, with 10 winners in three categories chosen from a total of 120 entries (58 nominees and 36 finalists along with the 10 winners). The jury of eight experts was made up of representatives of the industry, trade, associations, science and media, with judging criteria being innovative content, solution excellence, functionality, aftermarket relevance, safety, security, quality, contribution to environmental protection, resource conservation and sustainability.

Around a third of entries came from Germany and two thirds from outside the country; 10 per cent of those entries were from outside the European Union. There was also an above-average increase in the number of entries from outside Germany – a trend that has been apparent for several years. The majority of entries were products and solutions from the workshop equipment segment, including tools, measuring devices and aids, in the categories Repair & Maintenance, and Repair & Diagnostics.

Automechanika Frankfurt 2018 is being held across all 12 halls at the Frankfurt Messe, with Hall 11 dedicated to the Body and Paint section. BodyShop News is exhibiting at stand 11.1 D63.

Mercedes-Benz App Helps Motorists Move To New-Age Cars

Mercedes-Benz has developed a new smartphone app that helps motorists decide if they should switch to alternatively powered cars.

Known as EQ Ready, the app can record journeys made by the user in any make of car, analyse their everyday mobility behaviour and compare it with numerous parameters of electric and hybrid vehicles. Mercedes-Benz says this makes it possible to try out e-mobility in a virtual yet realistic way. The usage profile generated is also significantly more meaningful than a once-only test drive.

EQ Ready also shows which alternatively-powered Mercedes-Benz vehicles best match the user’s individual behaviour.

The tracking feature records speed, acceleration and stoppages, as well as ambient parameters such as temperature and altitude profile, making it possible to calculate range and energy consumption. Users can also manually enter the location of potential charging stations. In the case of a hybrid, the mobility behaviour evaluation focuses exclusively on all-electric mode.

The user’s personal mobility behaviour is transmitted by Wi-Fi or mobile data to the ‘Mercedes me’ server for evaluation. The user then receives feedback such as “Congratulations! All your journeys can be made electrically without additional recharging.”

Mercedes-Benz says users can maintain privacy by disabling the tracking feature at any time. The app also regularly reminds users when data is being recorded.

Wilko Stark, Head of Daimler & Mercedes-Benz Cars Strategy and Head of CASE (Connected, Autonomous, Shared & Services, Electric), said the app shows electric cars and hybrids in all-electric mode are more suitable for everyday use than most people believe.

“Following their personal reality check with our app, even sceptics discover that an electric car or hybrid would satisfy their mobility needs,” he said.

The EQ Ready app can be downloaded free for iOS and Android.

Elite Body Shop Solutions Launches Online Academy

Elite Body Shop Solutions founder Dave Luehr has created an online body shop academy he says will assist collision industry professionals in gaining a competitive business advantage.

Luehr says the academy will offer affordable online video classes to help owners, managers, and administrative staff find solutions to many leadership and personal development challenges faced in today’s business environment. The classes will be in addition to the free Elite Webinar Series the company has hosted since March 2018.

“At Elite Body Shop Academy, we are hoping to fill a void in the industry by offering an online resource where collision industry professionals can easily experience the education that will make the biggest difference in their lives and businesses,” said Luehr. “This educational content is designed to help shop leaders and their teams not only increase their business skills, but also to help the individuals involved discover their own limitless potential and live more satisfying lives as a result, all without leaving the office.”

According to Luehr, the academy will allow students to sign up for various classes and systematically go through each lesson at their own pace.

“We are also working closely with the Automotive Management Institute (AMi), so students will be able to take a short quiz and earn valuable credits towards their chosen Ami professional designation. Even the free Elite webinars are eligible for AMi credit,” said Luehr.

The site currently hosts all of Elite’s past educational webinars, including presentations by industry leaders such as Jake Rodenroth, Mark Olson, Ryan Taylor, Nick Schoolcraft and Mike Jones.

“In the next few weeks, we will be making a big announcement about our first official online course,” Luehr said. “We will be sharing a very special limited‐time offer to those who are existing members of our online community, so I recommend signing up right away to be included.”

For more information about Elite Body Shop Solutions and the Elite Body Shop Academy, visit www.elitebodyshopsolutions.com/academy or email [email protected]

Axalta’s Charlie Shaver To Lead Specialty Chemicals After Sale Completion

Charles “Charlie” Shaver will join Specialty Chemicals from Axalta, where he currently serves as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer. He will step down as CEO of Axalta on 4 September but will remain Chairman of the Board.

In its strategy to separate Specialty Chemicals from its Paints and Coatings business, AkzoNobel announced in March 2018 that it had agreed to sell its Specialty Chemicals business to The Carlyle Group and GIC. Upon completion of the transaction, expected before the end of 2018, Shaver will head the new company as Chief Executive Officer.

Shaver brings more than 35 years in leadership roles across the global chemical industry. His appointment is subject to completion of the transaction.