Suncorp Becomes First Thatcham Research ‘Global Associate’

Thatcham Research has announced the renewal of its contract with Suncorp, extending the successful collaboration that has seen Suncorp distribute Thatcham Research repair data in Australia and New Zealand since 2013.

Under the renewed agreement, Suncorp will become the first ever Thatcham Research Global Associate, providing Suncorp with access to Thatcham Research’s large vehicle research, data and services.

“We are delighted to welcome Suncorp as our first ever Global Associate member, building on the successful partnership we have enjoyed over the last five years,” said Neale Phillips, Global Product Director, Thatcham Research. “We are committed to supporting its needs and those of its repair network – starting with an upgrade to escribe which will shortly see the inclusion of vehicle manufacturer methods, to further increase vehicle coverage.”

Thatcham’s online portal escribe provides insurance assessors and repairers with instant access to the latest multi-franchised Thatcham Research crash repair methods, times and technical newsletters.

“Thatcham repair data helps to ensure that our customer’s vehicles are repaired in the most safe and efficient manner, so the decision to extend and strengthen our relationship with such a respected industry body was an easy one and aligns 100 per cent with Suncorp’s overarching repair strategy,” said Brett Wallace, EM Assessing & Repair Performance, Suncorp.

Jonathan Hewett Appointed Chief Executive At Thatcham Research

Thatcham Research has announced the appointment of Jonathan Hewett as its new Chief Executive beginning from early next year. Hewett brings a wealth of senior management, international and strategic leadership skills from across the insurance, automotive, and financial sectors at a significant time for the company as it approaches its 50th anniversary.

Thatcham Research says Hewett’s expertise will lead and evolve its strategy and help guide its insurer members through vehicle safety, repair and security in a period of exponential technological advancements in connectivity, future automated driving capabilities as well as complex vehicle materials and structures.

Hewett joins from Octo Telematics where he was Global Chief Marketing Officer and drove business growth, working closely with insurers, vehicle manufacturers, fleet and rental organisations as well as government bodies, also understanding and providing digital solutions in the age of the Internet of Things.

Prior to this, he has held various senior leadership and international roles across the automotive, insurance and finance sectors, including AIG, Dealflo Ltd, Dixons PLC, Post Office Direct, Sainsbury’s Bank and Barclays Bank.

Graham Gibson, Chairman at Thatcham Research said: “In a period when cars will change out of all recognition as we know them today, I am delighted that Jonathan has been appointed as Chief Executive. He brings considerable knowledge and experience, combined with great leadership skills.”

Hewett said: “We are amid once-in-a-lifetime changes to our relationship with cars and mobility in general. The consequent impact on insurers and the automotive sector presents enormous opportunities to improve consumer experience and efficiency for businesses. Over the last 50 years, Thatcham Research has provided crucial insight and data driven analysis for insurers and the automotive industry as a whole, and I am very much looking forward to working with the team in pursuit of our vision – safer cars and fewer crashes.”

Italy Plant To Become New Mopar Parts Distribution Hub Serving World Markets

The historic Fiat plant in Rivalta, located near Turin in Italy, is set to become one of the Mopar brand’s global parts and distribution centres serving Europe, the Middle East, Africa (EMEA) and additional world markets.

Prompted by the rapid global expansion of Mopar, the service, parts and customer-care brand for FCA vehicles, the project will transform a former vehicle production plant into an “innovative, energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable” parts and accessories storage and distribution warehouse. The new facility will support over 5000 locations, significantly improving delivery time to dealerships and workshops, increasing customer service quality as a result.

“As we grow the Mopar brand around the world, customer satisfaction continues to be one of our key global priorities,” said Pietro Gorlier, Global Head of Parts and Service (Mopar) and Chief Operating Officer of the EMEA region.

“Delivery of the right part at the right time around the globe is at the core of what we do, so we continue to invest in our more than 50 parts distribution centres worldwide. In the case of Rivalta, we are proud to revive a building with a great industrial legacy and transform it into a state-of the art, forward-looking international parts distribution hub that will serve our markets in Europe and beyond.”

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.