Exclusive Auto Centre Awarded I-CAR Gold Class

I-CAR Australia has announced that Exclusive Auto Centre in Newstead, Queensland, has received I-CAR Gold Class status.

“As a small workshop specialising in prestige vehicles, ongoing learning is the cornerstone of our business and we are proud to have achieved I-CAR accreditation,” said Nick Contarino, owner of Exclusive Auto Centre. “The automotive body repair industry is constantly evolving, and investing in our team in this way will ensure we are equipped to deliver the very best outcomes for our customers.

“Our team embraced the opportunity and found the range of courses available to be excellent, and we look forward to working and learning with I-CAR in the future.”

“Achieving I-CAR Gold Class status ensures Excusive Auto Centre can remain at the forefront of modern vehicle repair,” said Gary Wood, I-CAR Australia Gold Class Coordinator. “Their attitude and commitment towards the training programme has been exceptional and they fully deserve the Gold Class recognition.

“The Gold Class accreditation is recognition of the learning culture already in place at Exclusive Auto Centre. It will ensure the business continues to work to the highest standards.”

ARA President Steps Down To Join All Auto Recalls

The Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA) has announced that Chad Counselman, its current President, has stepped down from his position.  Counselman will remain on the Board of Directors and Scott Robertson, the First Vice President, will step in to serve the remainder of Counselman’s term. Counselman will join All Auto Recalls in Australia, relocating his family to Melbourne in the coming weeks.

“I feel strongly that the ARA membership deserves a leader that can devote the necessary time and resources to guiding the Association,” said Counselman. “While my family and I are excited about this new opportunity in Australia, due to time zone differences and other commitments, it would make it very difficult for me to serve the members to the best of my ability as President.  As such, I am stepping down and know that incoming President, Scott Robertson, will do an excellent job representing the membership. I look forward to continuing to serve the industry as a board member and will continue to be actively involved in ARA.”

“It has been a pleasure working with Chad and I look forward to continuing to work with him as a board member,” said Sandy Blalock, ARA Executive Director. “He will be a great asset to our Australian members. I know that Scott is ready and able to assume the reigns and has the support of the board and Association staff behind him.”

“We are extremely fortunate to have someone of Chad Counselman’s calibre coming to join our team,” said Chris Daglis, Managing Director of All Auto Recalls. “He will be an asset not only to our team, but to the industry in Australia and ARA.  We are looking forward to working with Chad as we continue to build the recalls solution for the auto recycling industry.  I am committed to supporting Chad and ARA [to] grow the awareness of industry issues like recalls, but most importantly, to providing solutions to these.”

“The decision to move to Australia has been one we’ve considered very carefully, especially as the current President of ARA,” said Counselman. “This commitment to Chris and the Australian market is evidence of how seriously I feel about the recalls issue for our industry. Chris is building a solution that is revolutionary and helping deliver this to auto recyclers around the world is something I feel extremely strongly about.”

Plastfix Develops First Automated Headlight Repair System

Plastfix has developed the first known prototype of an automated headlight repair system using robotics, software algorithms, 3D scanning and a custom automotive polypropylene-based 3D printing material. Plastfix said it had spent three years of R&D on the so-called ‘Repairbots’ in collaboration with research partners Swinburne University and the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC).

The company said the patented solution is moving towards expanding its repair range and commercialising a more compact, industry-suited, automated system that is more affordable and easily utilised in any collision repair facility worldwide. The network of Repairbots will be supported by Plastfix’s central control centre in Europe, managed via a cloud-based inventory of repair programmes and headlight tab CAD data.

“The team has been outstanding during this project as we overcame several significant obstacles, not the least of which was that we had to engineer our own polymer as commercial grades were unsuitable [for] our application,” said Dr Mats Isaksson, Project Leader at Swinburne University of Technology.

The system replicates the manual lug repair-kit solution that OEMs use to replace broken tabs for certain headlights, but instead of screwing the tabs into the provided repair points on the headlight, the Repairbot system 3D-prints a set of staking posts. A heat staking method is then used to attach the tab which gives a cleaner outcome than the screw heads being exposed.

“It is so amazing to see how far we’ve come since the idea was floated back in 2017,” said David Chuter, CEO of IMCRC. “Australia is the perfect market for such innovation and this demonstration has been tremendous. Congratulations to the team at Swinburne and to all those involved throughout the journey.”

The company is continuing research and testing but hopes to 3D-print the entire replacement tab directly onto the headlight as materials and technology evolve.

“We now move into the exciting part of commercialisation,” said Mario Dimovski, owner of Plastfix and Tradiebot Industries. “The Tradiebot EU team has been working on the project for the last 12 months side-by-side with Swinburne and are preparing a more finetuned commercial Repairbot system ready for use in today’s collision repair industry.

“We have come so far and learnt so much and the advancements in technology and hardware [are] positive as the systems become faster and products are more affordable, ultimately allowing us to build an end product in reach of any collision repair or parts supply business, no matter its size.

“Our end goal is to have these Repairbot units on the shelf for sale by the start of next year retailing for approximately US$20,000, including an ongoing subscription and material cost.

“We are currently exploring all market opportunities with collision groups, OEMs and part suppliers to [determine] the best fit for our solution. In the end, if we can assist the industry to repair more headlights instead of buying new, reducing repair costs and [diverting] them from landfill, it’s a win for both business, consumers and the environment.”

Sherwin-Williams Will Build New Global HQ, R&D Centre In Ohio

Sherwin-Williams is finalising plans to build a new global headquarters, following an extensive competitive site selection process, in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, and a new R&D centre in the Cleveland suburb of Brecksville.

The company says its plans require the completion of some standard due diligence, approval of incentives and other matters at the state, county and city levels. It will also resolve all business and legal matters tied to the investment project.

“Our plans to continue investing in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio build on our 154-year legacy as one of the region’s top employers and drivers of economic activity,” said John G. Morikis, Chairman and CEO of Sherwin-Williams. “Driven by our continued need to serve our customers at the highest level and retain and attract top talent, we intend to create a next-generation workplace environment that ignites creativity, collaboration and industry-leading innovation.

“We currently operate out of a 90-year-old headquarters building that has served us well but is no longer conducive to meeting our future needs. The major planned investment in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio reflects our confidence in the continued strength of the region and its people and our public partners’ ability to deliver on their commitments.”

The preliminary plans require Sherwin-Williams to invest a minimum of US$600 million to build both facilities. The new headquarters will be approximately one million square-feet (92,900 square metres) while the R&D centre, which will serve as the corporate anchor for a new mixed-use development project, will be about 500,000 square feet (46,450 square metres).

The two facilities will house over 3500 employees combined, with room to accommodate significant future growth. Sherwin-Williams estimates that a minimum of 400 jobs will be added at these facilities over time and that many of the jobs will include professional staff, engineers and chemists.

The transition to the new facilities isn’t expected until 2023 at the earliest.

Symach Appoints New General Manager For Australia

Mark Cunningham has been appointed as Symach Australia’s General Manager, overseeing and supporting the company’s activities and expansion of the brand in the region.

Cunningham has over 20 years of experience in the motor trade and has worked with some of the largest vehicle repairers in Australia and Ireland. He began his career in the collision repair business as a panel estimator before moving into insurance assessing.

“The motor industry gives lots of different options to suit various skill sets and always had a lot of appeal to me,” said Cunningham. “We hold some of the best future tradesmen and women as proven by the WorldSkills competition recently. Along with clever business owners taking a keen look towards improved processes, equipment and forward-thinking technology, we are in a good spot which can also get better.”

With this recent addition, Symach has now launched its commercial structure in Australia, making its FixLine technology and processes available to workshops across the country. The company says that Fixline is designed to reduce cycle times, improve quality and increase throughput and profitability using the existing floor space.

“As the first ever Australia-based GM for Symach, this allows me the opportunity to give the forward-thinking decision makers the chance to be the changemakers for their business or group,” says Cunningham, in reference to Symach’s slogan for 2020, The Changemaker. “I tend to welcome all inquiries which can be from the existing Symach family, distributors, to new potential customers, big or small. I believe my background can assist as my career and life decisions have always been to help others, whether that’s friends or businesses I have been associated with. I just enjoy our industry; everyone wants to improve. Symach’s unique processes and new 2020 technology give Australia and New Zealand the opportunity to improve by leading the way with Symach products and concepts.”

“With Mark joining Symach, we expect to introduce our FixLine equipment and process to more workshops across Australia,” said Osvaldo Bergaglio, President of Symach. “This is the first step to reinforce our commitment to the Australian market in providing the solutions body shops need to grow their business profitably.”

Willmot Smash Receives I-CAR Gold Class

I-CAR Australia has announced that Willmot Smash Repair Specialist in Cairns, Queensland, has been awarded I-CAR Gold Class status.

“The team at Willmot’s have demonstrated their commitment to training by achieving the I-CAR Gold Class accreditation,” said Gary Wood, I-CAR Australia Gold Class Coordinator. “Regular participation in virtual and hands-on training will ensure that all staff members are equipped with the most up-to-date knowledge and skills required to safely repair today’s vehicles. Extremely well done to all involved.

“The Gold Class status is the highest level of accreditation within the I-CAR Professional Development Program and will compliment Willmot Smash Repair Specialist’s value of quality and safety by ensuring they have the technology and capabilities to deliver on every repair.”

“Receiving the I-CAR Gold Class accreditation for Willmot Smash Repair Specialist was a great way to be recognised for our commitment to training and keeping up to date with the industry,” said Helena Willmot, Managing Director. “The Road to Gold has been a great journey with our staff who embrace the learning culture we have here.

“Being in Far North Queensland, we can feel isolated. With the training programme provided by I-CAR, it has given [us the] opportunity to achieve much more with their online classrooms. The accreditation is invaluable to any body shop; it is the recognition that your priority is in the customer’s safety.”

AMA Joins Plastfix Plastic Waste Programme

AMA Group has joined Plastfix’s ‘Waste Motive Initiative’ as a foundation partner. Plastfix says the Waste-Motive Initiative’s focus is bringing together like-minded companies, government and community groups to work together in achieving goals set by the initiative. AMA said it will play a key role in the core objective, which is better managing the industry’s automotive plastic waste.

“We have challenges disposing of plastic bars and other plastic components through an environmentally friendly supply chain that can operate at the scale we require to be an effective and consistent solution,” said Dave Calder, Chief Operating Officer at AMA. “This campaign is no different than getting rid of plastic bags in supermarkets or replacing plastic straws with paper straws.

“Instead, in our great industry, there are more plastics going to landfill and an increasing number of plastic components in the construction of vehicles. The industry must evolve in its ability to offset this impact to the environment, and we need the supply chain to keep pace.”

Calder said the Waste-Motive Initiative ensures plastics are shredded, waste is disposed of through registered specialist recyclers and a significant carbon footprint reduction is achieved.

A task force will be created that features an AMA representative and will include experts from the automotive, recycling, research and government industries.

“In most instances this plastic waste, consisting of bumpers and headlights, ends up stockpiled in backyards, wrecking yards, stocked on farmland [and] is buried, ultimately contaminating our planet,” said Mario Dimovski, CEO of Plastfix and creator of the Waste-Motive Initiative. “It’s a massive win for the initiative and the environment to have our industry leader, the AMA Group, become a foundation partner.

“We look forward to working with the AMA team as the relationship paves the way to tackle these environmental issues and working towards a cleaner industry and greener planet.”

Symach Provides Equipment To TDN Group

Symach has announced that its equipment and technology provided to TDN Group’s first facility in the United Kingdom are fully operational. TDN Group has also incorporated technology and safety equipment to calibrate advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) and repair electric and hybrid vehicles.

“Since installing Symach’s unique FixLine process, we’ve found that it has helped us with efficiency in our facility,” said Jordan Fisher, Managing Director of AXIOM-UK, a TDN Group company. “The track system we installed creates a process and workflow that dramatically speeds up the movement of vehicles through the shop and Symach’s Drytronic technology fully cures paint in just [a] few seconds.”

Fisher said the equipment also allows the shop to quality-control repaired vehicles and reduce the risk of rework and customer complaints.

“We enjoyed working with TDN Group to set up their world-class facility in the UK,” said Osvaldo Bergaglio, CEO of Symach. “Symach’s FixLine process and Drytronic technology will drastically reduce the cost and time of repairs at TDN Group’s shop.”

TDN Group was formed in 2014 as a paintless dent removal (PDR) company, offering physical dent repair as well as PDR-related training and accreditation, including tool development and sales, along with catastrophic hail repair. In 2019, AXIOM Accident & Hail Repair purchased 50 per cent of TDN Group’s shares.

“The CEO of AXIOM Accident & Hail Repair, Bill Park, had developed a hybrid solution for the body shop industry that he wanted to bring to the UK,” said Fisher. “This solution was to encompass PDR with Symach drying technology to dramatically reduce repair times and increase levels of quality.”

AXIOM Accident & Hail Repair had installed a FixStation at one of its sites in Colorado in 2018. It’s equipped with a Flydry robot, paint mixing room, a vacuum sanding system and a multi-box with plugs and retractable air and electrical supply. Since then, AXIOM-US said that the FixStation has provided continuous workflow throughout the shop, and the company is planning to install the equipment in every new site it opens in the UK and Europe. The facility is being set up as an onboarding centre and functional body shop.

Fisher said the vision for the AXIOM-UK brand is to open 25 body shops within five years.

I-CAR Awards Gold Class To J&M Smash Repairs

I-CAR Australia has announced that J&M Smash Repairs in Malaga, Western Australia, has been awarded I-CAR Gold Class status.

“We at J&M Smash Repairs are proud to join such an elite group of repairers that have achieved the Gold Class Status,” said Johnny Zito, Assistant Manager/Estimator at J&M Smash Repairs. “I-CAR was able to deliver the highest level of training to all of our staff enabling them to strive and improve their expertise with keeping up-to-date with the latest technology in the constantly changing autobody repair industry, allowing our business to always function at a high standard.

“We are grateful to I-CAR for their ongoing support and we are committed to working with them in the future.”

“J&M Smash have been regular participants in I-CAR training for a number of years,” said Gary Wood, I-CAR Australia Gold Class Coordinator. “As part of the Holden requirements, they commenced a training program with us 12 months ago to achieve Gold Class status. It has been a fantastic effort by Johnny and the team, they fully deserve to be recognised as a Gold Class collision business.

“The Gold Class accreditation confirms their commitment to ongoing training and working to the highest standards.”

Renault Appoints New CEO

Renault’s Board of Directors has appointed Luca de Meo as Chief Executive Officer of Renault SA and Chairman of Renault SAS from the beginning of July. Clotilde Delbos, Interim Chief Executive Officer of Renault SA, will continue in her role until that point.

“I am delighted with this new governance, which marks a decisive step for the Group and for the Alliance,” said Jean-Dominique Senard, Chairman of the Board of Directors. “Luca de Meo is a great strategist and visionary of a rapidly changing automotive world. His expertise but also his passion for cars make him a real asset for the Group.

“I also thank Clotilde Delbos who provides interim management of the Group in an exceptional manner. She has demonstrated day after day her commitment and determination in the service of Renault. Together, with the support of a renewed and strengthened executive committee, they will form a high-quality, multi-talented team equal to Renault’s ambitions.”