Robert Bryant Named Interim CEO at Axalta

Axalta Coating Systems has announced that its board of directors has appointed Robert Bryant, Axalta’s Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, to the additional role of interim Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. Bryant succeeds Terrence Hahn, who has resigned by mutual agreement with the board, following an investigation by outside counsel into conduct by Hahn unrelated to financial matters that Axalta believes was inconsistent with company policies. Hahn has also vacated his position on the board.

“We are pleased that Robert Bryant has agreed to step into the role of interim CEO,” said Charlie Shaver, Chairman, Axalta Coating Systems. “Having worked closely with Robert for over five years, I know he has the leadership skills and financial acumen, as well as the respect of the management team and employees, to be an effective leader for Axalta. The company remains well positioned to build on its success, with strong end-market demand and an unrelenting focus on customer service and innovation.”

“I deeply appreciate the vote of confidence from Charlie and the board,” said Bryant. “The management team at Axalta is resilient — we will work tirelessly to put this distraction behind us and focus on delivering outstanding products and customer service.”

“I wish the best to Axalta’s employees and its leadership,” said Hahn.

Axalta also announced that its preliminary results for the third quarter are in line with the company’s guidance communicated during its second quarter earnings update, which specified third quarter adjusted EBITDA of approximately 24 per cent of the midpoint of its full-year range.

Robert Bryant has served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Axalta since 2013. He was previously Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President of Roll Global LLC. Before joining Roll Global in 2007, he was Executive Vice President of Strategy, New Business Development, and Information Technology at Grupo Industrial Saltillo, S.A.B. de C.V.

Elite Body Shop Solutions Webinar On Scheduling Coming Soon

Elite Body Shop Solutions has announced the next instalment for its free Elite Webinar Series, “Simple, Effective Scheduling”, will feature Dave Luehr, Founder of Elite Body Shop Solutions, and Ron Kuehn, President of Collision Business Solutions, on Thursday, 25th October, at 1pm CST (6pm UTC).

Dave Luehr and Ron Kuehn say that they have learned most savvy shop owners understand that that they can no longer attempt to bring a majority of their week’s repair jobs in on Monday and then hope to get them all delivered by Friday, and scheduling based on estimated work hours doesn’t always work out either.

“Many collision repairers are either fed‐up with complicated and ineffective solutions or discovering that their scheduling ‘system’ isn’t really a system at all – they are essentially still ‘winging it’ when it comes to scheduling repair jobs into their shops,” Luehr said. “Modern, successful shops need to let go of old thinking in order to regain control of their business.”

Luehr and Kuehn says that they will guide the webinar attendees through the process of designing their own simple, effective scheduling system based on sound principles of managing work‐in‐process while ensuring maximum profitability.

By executing the information learned in this webinar, collision repairers can expect to increase profitability, eliminate unnecessary expenses caused by excess inventory, “massively” improve the customer experience, improve shop morale, “reduce the chaos, and get back control of your collision repair business”.

Every month, Elite highlights a topic to keep collision repairers and those that serve them abreast of the latest information required to be successful in today’s challenging business environment. This month, Elite says that attendees will discover new ways to become more successful and expand their horizons.

To register, visit events.genndi.com/channel/EliteWebinarOct2018. Those who are unable to attend the live event can watch the recorded webinar by joining the Elite Body Shop Academy at www.elitebodyshopsolutions.com/academy.

New Global Refinish Report Highlights Changes And Major Players

A new report on the global automotive refinish coatings market has found that the sector is highly consolidated, with five companies holding 65 per cent market share in recent years.

Transparency Market Research found that two major companies, Axalta Coatings Systems and PPG Industries alone hold 40 per cent share in the global market.

The report also finds that with stringent rules and regulation pertaining to VOC emissions, particularly in Europe and North America, the consumption of solvent-based coatings has seen a massive reduction.

The global automotive refinish coatings market is currently segregated into clear coat, primer, base coat, filler, activator, and others. Of these, base coat holds the top position in the market and is also expected to hold a 31 per cent share of the global market by the end of the assessed period. On the other hand, the activators segment is predicted to display high growth during the same period, ensuing in a minimal rise in its share by 2024 with North America anticipated to hold the dominating position in the market.

TMR analysts say the ongoing trend has forced many manufacturers to concentrate more on development of effective waterborne varieties of automotive refinish coatings, a trend that is likely to have a significant impact on the market’s dynamics in future. It is expected that the global automotive refinish coatings market is likely to display a 5.7 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) during the forecast period 2016-2024. The market, which was valued at US$6.6 billion in 2015, is likely to touch US$10.8 billion by the end of the assessed period.

According to the researchers, developing countries across the world are likely to witness a surge in their automotive market over the years. Countries such as China, South Africa, India, and Brazil are expected to remain at the forefront of this surge, due to rising populations and increases in disposable income. The rise in these developing countries is likely to, in turn, act as catalysts in the growth of the automotive refinish coatings market.

Another finding of the report is the numerous strict rules and regulations regarding emissions and how these have been levied for declining usage of certain elements and chemicals in automotive refinish coatings. This has seen the sales of solvent-based products dwindle, including higher levels of organic compounds in comparison to water-based products. Several efforts made by government and environment sustenance bodies are likely to increase knowledge amongst consumers, and this has seen a steep decline of sales in solvent-based coatings in recent years.

Thatcham’s Online Programme Helps Bridge The Knowledge Gap

Thatcham Research has announced the launch of a new online technical awareness programme to be known as “ecademy”. Businesses working in the automotive repair sector can use ecademy to keep employees up-to-date with developments that may have a significant impact on repair processes.

“The pace of change within our industry makes it challenging for repairers on two levels,” explains Dean Lander, Head of Repair Sector Services. “Firstly, when we surveyed customers recently, specific concerns were raised about the impact of ADAS, hybrid and electric vehicles, and new materials such as carbon fibre on future training needs. Secondly, customers cited the biggest barrier for training was not being able to afford time out of the business. Ecademy is a product to help our overcome these barriers.

“In other industries, learning management systems have long-since proved an effective method for delivering training,” continues Lander. “Of course, where in-depth subject knowledge or accreditations are an essential part of a role, nothing beats the face-to-face practical training courses we offer at our Automotive Academy. But reaching a level of technical awareness in a wide range of subjects is achievable through good quality online content – a sentiment that 87 per cent of those who took part in our survey agreed with.”

Less than a quarter (22 per cent) of the companies surveyed by Thatcham Research said that they were confident that all areas of their business understand the technical issues faced by repairers.

Features within the ecademy portal include:

  • CPD-approved interactive modules in subjects such as ADAS and calibration, hybrid and electric vehicles and vehicle design and materials
  • Progress tracking via learner and manager dashboards
  • Access to additional Thatcham resources such as new vehicle releases and technical bulletins
  • Communication with other learners via an online forum.

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.”