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.

Will Suncorp Sell Capital S.M.A.R.T?

Suncorp is reportedly seeking a buyer for its majority shareholding in Capital S.M.A.R.T Repairs, which is believed to be worth more than $300 million.

The group owns 95 per cent of Capital S.M.A.R.T, with the balance owned by its founder Jim Vais.

According to Suncorp, Capital S.M.A.R.T handles 45 per cent of its motor vehicle repairs.

Capital S.M.A.R.T reported $290 million in revenue for the 2016-2017 financial year, an increase of $47 million over the previous 12 months. The company also reported a net profit of $14.1 million and assets of $61.6 million. It operates 45 sites across Australia and New Zealand and has an estimated 4.3 per cent of the Australian collision repair market.

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.

SAPE Group Becomes Australian Distributor For POR-15

The Sydney Automotive Paints and Equipment (SAPE) Group has announced that it is now the authorised distributor for POR-15 high performance coatings in Australia.

According to the company, POR-15 is the trusted brand in the paint and coatings industry that stands for superior quality control, durability, and customer service. Best known for the POR-15 Rust Preventive 3-Step System, POR-15 also offers a wide variety of specialty products to include POR-15 Top Coat, High Temp Heat Resistant Paint, Engine Enamel, and Brake Caliper Paint.

Paul McMartin, Director for the SAPE Group, said: “This is an exciting industry and we are constantly looking to improve and establish a better position and of the key ways to do so is working with companies like POR-15.”

“There’s no doubting that Australia has a love affair with the car, and restoring a classic car is the ultimate labour of love. POR 15 products are a must have for any automotive restoration.”

“No other paint is as permanent as POR-15. When others have chipped, scratched, flaked and peeled, POR-15 will still be preventing rust.”

POR-15 products are now in stock at SAPE headquarters in Condell Park, as well as Automotive Colour & Equipment in Newcastle, Prestige Paints & Equipment in Brisbane and The Paint Depot in the Gold Coast. POR-15 products can also be purchased through an extensive reseller network throughout Australia.

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.”

Axalta Names Trip to Germany Promotion Winners

Franco Missaglia from Stylefinish Auto Body in Mentone, Victoria and Craig Hall from Craig Hall Bodyworks in Canberra, ACT have won Axalta’s 2018 Win a Trip to Germany promotion.

Each winner will take in the sights of some of Germany’s most beautiful cities, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Munich, whilst visiting museums and automotive manufacturing plants, including Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. The tour will also focus on Automechanika, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary.

“Axalta would like to sincerely thank its customers for their continued support,” said Steven Brett, Axalta Coatings Systems Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand. “Our aim is to make the tour, which includes Automechanika, a wonderful experience but also an opportunity to gain insight into the advancements happening in our industry and the impact they may have on the Australian automotive repair market now and into the future.”

Missaglia was thrilled to have been named a winner.

“I would like to thank Axalta for the great opportunity this promotion has given me to not only visit Germany but to travel with likeminded professionals,” he said.

Paul Wake, Axalta’s Sales Director, presents Craig Hall from Craig Hall Bodyworks with his winning certificate.
Paul Wake, Axalta’s Sales Director, presents Craig Hall from Craig Hall Bodyworks with his winning certificate.

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.”

Suncorp Simplifies Quoting For Non-Recommended Repairers

Suncorp has launched a new online portal to simplify quoting by non-recommended repairers (NRR).

Executive Manager, Assessing and Repair at Suncorp, Brett Wallace, said the new AudaBridge portal provides opportunities for a more robust and consistent approach to NRR assessments.

“We currently receive quotes through various channels and formats, some of which require us to manually input the information into our system. This is time consuming and often means our assessors don’t have all the details needed to properly compare repair method, quality and costs,” said Wallace.

“The new web-based platform will give repairers access to relevant claim information, enable them to upload or input quotes, view real-time assessment information and submit invoices. These enhancements will help our team deliver a better customer experience, and ultimately provide the best repair solution for each vehicle. The method repairers currently use to construct quotes won’t change and Suncorp will continue to accept all estimate formats,” he added.

“We remain committed to working closely with NRRs to create a seamless process focused on delivering the highest quality repairs, best service and the greatest value for our customers.”

Repairers can register to use the AudaBridge portal by emailing [email protected].