1. Automation Alternatives releases new fiber laser cutting system

    The design team at Automation Alternatives knew that in order for a system to be truly cost-effective, it had to combine highly efficient technology with user-friendly operation. The RubyLaser FLC does just that and more. Sporting a  compact footprint, the RubyLaser FLC series boasts unsurpassed efficiency using a third of the power as well as less gas than comparable CO2 systems. Additional cost savings are realized from much lower service costs --- service intervals are half as frequent and half the cost. 

    The system was designed from the ground up with the operator in mind.  To that end, a number of design considerations were incorporated that enable operators to work both efficiently and comfortably.  Cuts are placed using the guide laser and targets. With special clamps acting as hard stops as they hold the work material in place, the usable area on each sheet is maximized and, with minimal stops per sheet, allows an operator to run an entire sheet without stops.

    The RubyLaser FLCincludes powerful, user-friendly software to simplify machine operation and an automated, feather-touch pallet system eases both loading and unloading. In addition, handheld controls are provided in order to free the operator from the console. 

    Machine up-time is another critical consideration. With the cost of replacing a damaged cutting head running between $10,000 and $30,000 and lost production as the result of job-stops creating a hit to companies’ bottom lines, the engineers at Automation Alternatives knew that these were problems that needed solutions.

    A range of features that virtually eliminate head crashes and that minimize job-stops have been incorporated into the RubyLaser FLC design. While other systems only include touch-sensors which are incapable of detecting crashes, Automation Alternative engineers have included a cutting-head crash-plate that serves to protect both the head as well as the work material. In addition, a smaller diameter nozzle tip requires less clearance between parts and a precision gap-sensor is able to consistently follow the surface of the work material. These and other innovative design features virtually eliminate the possibility of head crashes.  Also, although a seemingly obvious design feature, an audible alarm will sound in the unlikely event of a job-stop --- something not even offered on most machines.

    Power levels are available from 150W all the way up to 4kW with unsurpassed energy efficiency and a laser life well upwards of 100,000 hours.  Systems feature unparalleled precision, tolerances of +/- .001, and fast cycle times without sacrificing exceptional edge quality. Working platforms range from 2 x 2, 4 x 4 and 4 x 8 feet.   In addition, vision systems are available that have been proven in over 90 installations and have been specifically configured by Automation Alternatives for both their cutting and welding systems. 

    Automation Alternatives is able to provide custom laser welding solutions at prices that are lower than comparable off-the-shelf systems starting at $150,000.   

    To learn more about Automation Alternatives’ RubyLaser FLCsystems, call 508 446 7063 to speak with a sales engineer or visit us on the Web at www.auto-alt.com .

  2. Chief provides welding and measuring equipment to Caliber Collision’s Changing Lanes program

    Chief® will provide welding and computerized measuring equipment for Caliber Collision’s Changing Lanes program.
    Chief will give a MultiMig 522 MIG/MAG welder, an MI200T spot welder, a LaserLock LiveMapping system and two MultiMig 190 welders to each of the Changing Lanes programs near Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina and Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas.
    Changing Lanes is the first program in the country to provide active duty service members with training and employment opportunities in the collision repair industry prior to transitioning out of the U.S. Armed Forces.  
    The no-cost, 18-week career skills program with hands-on training results in job placement opportunities in Caliber Collision locations across the U.S. upon successful completion of the program.
    “Our service members have given so much to our country,” says Bob Holland, director of strategic relationships, Chief Automotive Technologies. “Chief is honored to be an active participant not only in Changing Lanes, but in helping to positively change the future of these fine men and women as they transition to civilian life.”
    Learn more about Caliber Collision’s Changing Lanes program at www.calibercollision.com/about-us/community-involvement/changing-lanes. For more information about Chief’s full line of collision repair equipment, visit www.chiefautomotive.com, contact your local Chief distributor or call (800) 445-9262.

  3. SEMA Show Performance Pavilion expands

    The 2017 SEMA Show will once again include the Performance Pavilion, one of four expansion areas that accommodates manufacturers of automotive parts and accessories and makes it possible for them to exhibit at the premier automotive trade event taking place Tuesday-Friday, Oct. 31-Nov. 3, 2017, in Las Vegas, NV.

    Located to the south of the Las Vegas Convention Center, the Performance Pavilion debuted in 2015 and connects buyers to new manufacturers focused on the wheel, tires, and trucks, SUV and off-road market segments.

    This year, the Performance Pavilion will expand to include even more exhibitors. Visitors will be able to easily walk to the Performance Pavilion from the west end of South Hall, where DUB Magazine will be exhibiting. Visitors arriving on the east side in the Bronze Lot Transportation Hub, via taxi, hotel shuttle or a ride-sharing service, will find the Continental Tire Experience, Powered by BMW, before arriving in the Performance Pavilion.

    "The Performance Pavilion makes it possible for new and emerging manufacturers to participate in the SEMA Show," said Peter MacGillivray, SEMA VP of events and communications. "Like all the SEMA Show expansion areas, the Performance Pavilion is easy for buyers to navigate and it successfully connects them to new exhibiting companies."

    SEMA Show expansion areas, also known as "First-Time and Featured Exhibitors" areas, are located in four locations:

    • Performance Pavilion: Located in the outside area south of the Las Vegas Convention Center, adjacent to the Renaissance Hotel
    • Upper South: Located in the upper level of South Hall, on the east side
    • Racing Annex: Located in the Las Vegas Convention Center Meeting Rooms N100-120, between North and Central Halls just east of the Grand Lobby
    • Westgate Pavilion: Located in the Pavilion area of the Westgate Hotel, just north of the Las Vegas Convention Center

    To view the floorplan and learn more about the 2017 SEMA Show, visit www.semashow.com.

  4. Enterprise 2017 disaster relief aid grows to $3 million

    The Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation – the philanthropic arm of the Enterprise Rent-A-Car brand – has pledged $750,000 to the American Red Cross and $250,000 to Americares. This $1 million donation follows the devastation left behind by Hurricane Irma and will assist with relief efforts in the Southeast U.S. and Caribbean.
    The donation is the latest example of Enterprise’s ongoing disaster recovery support this hurricane season, and is in addition to the $1 million the Foundation gave to support Hurricane Harvey relief in late August as well as a $1 million gift to the American Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program (ADGP) made earlier this year. This funding brings Enterprise’s support for disaster relief this year to $3 million.
    “We know firsthand how services from the American Red Cross and Americares can be life-changing and make a positive difference for disaster victims,” said Carolyn Kindle Betz, Senior Vice President and Executive Director of the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation. “These are the communities where our employees and customers live and work, and we will continue to support the efforts of those organizations to help people in their times of greatest need.”
    Florida and Caribbean Rental Locations Impacted
     The Enterprise Rent-A-Car brand is owned by Enterprise Holdings, the world’s largest car rental company, which also owns the National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car brands. Hurricane Irma forced Enterprise Holdings to initially shutter more than 100 of its over 500 neighborhood and airport car rental locations throughout Florida, mostly due to power outages. Over half of those locations have now begun operations again, with more opening each day.
    In the Caribbean, Enterprise Holdings’ franchise locations in Tortola, St. Maarten and St. Barths sustained some of the heaviest damage and remain closed for inbound reservations. The Enterprise location in Turks & Caicos has reopened. Though many of these locations are still unable to accept inbound reservations until further notice, they are beginning to work with local partners in the recovery process, as well as local customers to provide vehicle rentals. In addition, Enterprise Holdings’ franchise locations continue to monitor the ongoing hurricane activity in the Caribbean to determine any additional need for closures.
    Similar to what was done for customers impacted by Hurricane Harvey, Enterprise Holdings’ three brands – Enterprise, National and Alamo – have waived one-way rental fees for customers who rented vehicles in Southeast Florida and needed to drop them elsewhere, as they were evacuating.
    Before Hurricane Irma made landfall, Enterprise activated its Emergency Action Plan, equipping employees with Enterprise LaunchPad® tablets, allowing them to run branch operations once the hurricane passed through, even during power outages. Those preparations, in addition to the flexibility of Enterprise’s neighborhood network, allowed employee teams to work nimbly to support the transportation needs of those affected by Hurricane Irma.
    This state-of-the-art mobile technology made it easier to reassign employees where needed and forward customer calls to operational sites from flooded or damaged branch offices to effectively manage demand.
    Neighborhood Branch Network Proves Critical to Customer Support
     With more than 6,400 fully staffed neighborhood and airport branch offices throughout the United States, Enterprise Holdings is uniquely positioned to seamlessly move vehicles around the country and into affected areas. The extensive Enterprise network also facilitates strategic support for insurance companies, utility companies and government agencies, helping them get the recovery and restoration process underway as quickly as possible.
    In addition, the strength and reach of the Enterprise neighborhood network enables Enterprise to work closely with its insurance partners to prioritize vehicle replacement requests in South Florida for policyholders, and get those customers into vehicles as they begin the recovery and clean-up process.
    For more information about Enterprise Holdings, visit www.enterpriseholdings.com.

  5. WD-40, Vaccar partner to turbocharge an off-road cult classic

    WD-40 Company is teaming with noted builder Aaron Vaccar and The Vaccar Company on a restoration build that blends old and new: the iconic 1966 Ford Bronco – the vehicle’s debut year – equipped with a turbocharged EcoBoost drivetrain.

    Continuing WD-40 Company’s eight-year partnership with SEMA, the WD-40®/SEMA Cares Boosted Bronco will make its debut at the 2017 SEMA Show in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Oct. 31 in the WD-40 Brand booth (#62129), and will be auctioned off in 2018 to benefit SEMA Cares. Through SEMA Cares, proceeds will benefit Childhelp®, an organization that provides services to abused and neglected children, and the SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund, which offers scholarships to students entering the automotive aftermarket.

    To date, WD-40 Company has raised more than $800,000 for these charities through vehicle restorations and auctions.

    The Vaccar Company was selected as the vehicle builder after an extensive search by WD-40 Company. Aaron Vaccar’s affinity for the WD-40 Brand, foresight for putting WD-40 Brand products to use in the build and creativity in developing the vehicle concept stood out above the rest, according to Tim Lesmeister, vice president of marketing at WD-40 Company. For Vaccar, the build is a passion project.

    “The WD-40/SEMA Cares Boosted Bronco allows us to pay tribute to traditional hot-rodding standards of execution and finish with a first of its kind vehicle,” said Vaccar. “The EcoBoost drivetrain will give the cult classic a modern spin and turbocharged power and efficiency for the future. There could not be a more iconic brand than WD-40 Brand to partner with on a vehicle sure to generate excitement from Bronco, off-road and automotive enthusiasts nationwide.”

    The vehicle’s color is inspired by the famous blue and yellow can of WD-40 Multi-Use Product with its thousands of uses. In addition to this product, several WD-40 Specialist® products will be instrumental to the build, including WD-40 Specialist® Superior Performance True Multi-Purpose Grease, Spray & Stay Gel Lubricant, Rust Release Penetrant Spray and the new WD-40® Specialist® Industrial-Strength Cleaner & Degreaser, which has a water-based, non-aerosol formula.

    “We have a long history of supporting the automotive industry with products that help auto pros get the job done and through our partnership with SEMA,” said Lesmeister. “This project allows WD-40 Company to continue that tradition of support for automotive industry, aftermarket professionals and auto enthusiasts in their restoration and customization projects.”

    Build partners that have donated product for use on the Bronco include AIRAID, AMSOIL, AutoMeter, B&M, BASF, Blood & grease, Detroit Steel Wheel, Doide Dynamics, Flowmaster, General Tire, Grip Royal, Mishimoto, POR-15, The Club, VMS Racing, and XS Power.

    The vehicle will be featured in the WD-40 Brand booth #62129 outside by South Hall at the SEMA Show.

  6. PPG custom painting courses bring out the inner artist

    PPG has announced its schedule of custom painting classes for the remainder of the 2017 calendar year. The courses are designed to help paint technicians use PPG products to bring their imaginations to life and create one-of-a-kind paint schemes for custom car and truck builds. The courses are led by elite PPG instructors and are held at PPG Business Development Centers and various field locations across the United States and Canada. Technicians receive classroom instruction along with hands-on training in the shop. A full range of topics is covered from product selection, equipment and color tools to surface preparation and paint application best practices.

    PPG custom refinish courses focus on several PPG brands including VIBRANCE COLLECTION® products and the latest and hottest colors, micas, pigments and special effects available. Students can learn a variety of custom painting techniques and skills including pinstriping and airbrushing. The training also demonstrates how advanced Vibrance Collection offerings work with all PPG premium quality solvent and waterborne topcoat systems to deliver bold and dazzling looks. In addition, individuals completing PPG custom refinish classes become members of the Vibrance Collection community and are welcome to post images of their work at us.vibrancecollection.com.
    “We’re very proud to offer these classes to our PPG customers,” said Randy Cremeans, PPG director of training. “We have the industry’s best trainers teaching the students how to get the most out of our exceptional products while bringing out their inner artist. It’s great to see what can be accomplished through these classes. We like to say that when it comes to custom painting, the only limitation is your imagination.”

    A partial list of PPG custom refinish classes includes

    • Lowrider Designs
    • Basic Pinstriping and Airbrushing
    • Custom Wood Grain Techniques
    • Custom Graphics
    • Custom Flames Design
    • Custom Airbrushing Techniques

    A special restoration seminar and advanced courses are also offered. Full course descriptions with October, November and December dates and locations, along with registration instructions, can be found at us.ppgrefinish.com/PPG-Refinish/Training.

  7. New camera, display mirrors enhance vehicle safety and fuel efficiency

    Rear-view and side-view mirrors on new vehicles will begin to see major changes over the next decade, according to new analysis from business information provider IHS Markit. Combining high-definition cameras and displays in place of – or to complement – traditional mirror designs offers a compelling case for automakers to improve on fuel efficiency and battery range, while increasing visibility and safety with high-value technology-driven content.

    These technologies will catch on quickly over the next decade, according to the recently published Camera and Display Mirrors Report from IHS Markit.

    Displays where a rear-view mirror once was? It’s possible!
    The first production applications of rear-view display mirrors have been successful, with the substantially wider field of vision helping to eliminate blind spots from rear seat occupants or roof pillars. General Motors was first to market this technology in 2015 with the Cadillac brand before expanding to Chevrolet and upcoming Buick models. However, other automakers are taking notice and making plans to bring similar solutions to market soon. Nissan announced plans to introduce the technology on the 2018 Armada, and other automakers will soon follow.

    A substantially wider field of vision also contributes to improved driver comfort and awareness. The device also appeases regulators and drivers alike with a toggle to switch between a traditional reflective mirror and the camera view. With regulatory approval and early signs of customer acceptance, rearview display mirrors are expected to reach nearly 1.8 million units produced annually in 2025, led by markets in Japan and North America, according to IHS Markit global forecasts.

    Cost remains a major barrier to widespread implementation of this new design, however, as relatively inexpensive traditional rear-view mirrors are replaced with more complex camera display systems. While cost and complexity will limit the market to an extent, the opportunity for differentiation and improved visibility will attract a number of automakers.

    Cameras recognized as viable replacement for traditional side mirrors
    Aerodynamic improvements and enhanced visibility are the primary reasons behind emerging mirror replacement applications, while designers will welcome newfound freedom after having explored novel exterior mirrors in concept vehicles for decades. Now that the regulatory environment is taking shape to support this concept, production applications will soon follow.

    The market for dedicated side-view camera display mirrors will grow as a result, with initial production expected within the next 12 to 24 months, according to IHS Markit. By 2025, nearly a half million side-view camera display systems will replace side mirrors annually in new vehicles designed to support the added technology content. Implementation will not be uniform, however.

    “Suppliers and automakers are investigating several different ways to replicate the camera view with an in-vehicle display. These side-view images could feed through an instrument cluster display of some sort, or even a traditional center stack display,” said Brian Rhodes, automotive technology analyst with IHS Markit. “However, the majority of concepts to this point have focused on new, dedicated side-view displays located either in the door panels or A-pillars because they offer the driver the most familiar line of sight for this safety-critical aspect of driving.”

    From a driver assistance perspective, augmenting mirrors with cameras is already common today—from familiar rear camera park assist to applications such as Honda LaneWatch that enhance visibility.

    “Current side camera systems merely enhance the driver’s view today and provide marginal added safety as a result, but there is much more opportunity,” said Jeremy Carlson, principal automotive analyst with IHS Markit. “Camera sensors allow machine vision software and artificial intelligence to constantly detect, track, and recognize objects over a wide field of view, and that can be important input to autonomous driving solutions.”

    “Alongside the autonomous use case, which has varying levels of interest from different automakers, improving aerodynamics will improve fuel efficiency no matter the fuel used—and that should be of interest to every automaker given regulatory pressures around the world today,” Carlson said.

    In 2025, more than 1.8 million vehicles will be produced with side-view camera sensors to support drivers or contribute to automated driving systems, while more than 23 percent of these systems will completely shed the traditional side-view mirror, according to IHS Markit forecasts.

    New opportunities for content differentiation, suppliers
    These mirror replacement solutions offer automakers a new opportunity to add value for consumers and to deliver content in an entirely new area of the vehicle. In addition, they create opportunities for a new set of suppliers to meet this demand—including those with expertise in automotive camera systems, display modules, system ECUs, and mirror modules, all of which could see new business opportunities take shape as this market develops.

    “Automakers will have the flexibility to integrate safety features such as a pedestrian highlight or warnings for fast-approaching vehicles to bring the driver’s attention to these outside factors and allow them—or the vehicle itself—to respond accordingly,” Carlson said. “That next level of innovation will push this emerging technology beyond the ‘nice to have’ cost constraints and into an integral part of a comprehensive in-vehicle user experience, whether you’re driving yourself or watching your vehicle drive you.”


  8. What's your ROIC?

    ROIC, or return on invested capital, measures the return the business in generating, after taking into account all the investments required in the business. Effectively, ROIC is the ROI of the business as a whole. It is a metric, that while very important, often is overlooked by many business owners.

    ROIC at first glance may not be immediately intuitive to many. It is a metric, like EBITDA, that does not appear on a standard income statement or balance sheet. It also requires calculations of multiple line items found on both the balance sheet and income statement. And the formula can be deconstructed to derive additional insights, further adding to the appearance of complexity (more on that in a later post).

    But ROIC is powerful, and actually quite intuitive once you get past the arcane accounting language! Keep reading by clicking here!

  9. Chicago Pneumatic launches new service tools, SEMA contest

    Chicago Pneumatic will introduce several new products to its range of efficient, powerful and reliable vehicle service tools at SEMA 2017, the world’s premier automotive specialty products trade event. Launches at the show will include the new CP8849 cordless impact wrench with four selectable forward positions, Chicago Pneumatic cordless angle grinders and Chicago Pneumatic Vehicle Service composite drills.
    “SEMA is a key date in our calendar each year, during which we look forward to engaging with our customers and introducing new prospects to the latest innovations that Chicago Pneumatic has to offer the global vehicle service industry,” said Yann Pasco, global business development manager for vehicle service at Chicago Pneumatic. “We’re also delighted to be teaming up with Marc Burnett of MB Motorsports to offer visitors the chance to win an exciting Baja off-road UTV experience in Mexico. All they need to do to enter is visit our stand at SEMA, during which they will discover how the world of off-road motorsports shares our values of people, passion and performance.”
    Making its international debut at SEMA 2017 is the CP8849 cordless impact wrench, which features a brushless motor. The CP8849 also offers four selectable forward positions, two shut off ones and one reverse position, a unique element in the market for this type of tools. Weighing in at 6.94 lbs. (3.15 Kg), Chicago Pneumatic’s latest compact and highly efficient cordless impact wrench delivers an impressive 885 ft.lbs. / 1200 Nm of torque. This represents a 12 percent increase in power over the previous model in its class, making it ideal for handling tough nuts and bolts in tire change, general maintenance and MRO applications for light vehicles. The CP8849 features a brushless motor and offers four selectable forward positions plus one reverse position. It is available with 4 or 6 Ah batteries.
    Chicago Pneumatic will unveil new additions to its range of CP Cordless Angle Grinders, designed to help users achieve a high-quality finish with minimal effort every time. These are equipped with tight handles that are ergonomically designed to optimize the position of the battery and provide maximum comfort for users. Two new 4.5’’ (115 mm) and 5’’ (125 mm) models will be on display, which offer up to 8500 rpm of grinding power. In addition to ensuring maximum material removal, the grinders have been developed with protection of users firmly in mind. For this reason, they are equipped with an adjustable metal guard and safety level. SEMA 2017 will also see Chicago Pneumatic launch three new highly precise Chicago Pneumatic Vehicle Service composite drills, which are available in ¼’’, ⅜’’ and ½’’ straight and angle models.
    Visitors to Booth 10104 will also have the chance enter its Baja Run Experience Sweepstake. Winners of the grand prize will receive a 5 day/4-night trip for two to Mexico (Baja, California). This includes a 3-day UTV off-road tour experience with professional UTV driver and owner of MB Motorsports, Marc Burnett in March 2018. The trip includes round-trip air transportation, hotel accommodation and $500 spending money. Three Chicago Pneumatic tool sets, valued between $1400-3500, will also be available as runner up prizes. Marc Burnett will draw the winners on Booth 10104.
    To be eligible for the draw, entrants can apply via http://campaigns.cp.com/bajarunexperience from September 18th or visiting the Chicago Pneumatic Booth at the 2017 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Nevada from 10/31/17 to 11/2/17 and complete the electronic entry form via a tablet(s) available on the booth. To be included in the draw, entries must be received no later than 1:00 p.m. PT on 11/2/17. For complete details visit the official rules.

  10. Fighting back against case-by-case basis injustices

    As football season has kicked off, I am going to borrow the phrase, “C’mon, man!” from the ESPN segment of groan-inducing game highlights, as it seems appropriate with what happened with a recent insurer claim.

    We repaired a 2012 Cadillac SRX that needed a front bumper, upper and lower grille, left headlamp, left fog lamp and repair on the radiator support. The left object detection sensor was knocked out of the hole, but not damaged. The first adjustor did not put a scan on the vehicle, which was not expected, because this insurer has never paid for a scan on the initial estimate. We scanned the vehicle per the GM position statement: “General Motors take the position that all vehicles being assessed for collision damage repairs must be tested for Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs) during the repair estimation to identify the required repairs. Additionally, the vehicle must be retested after all repairs are complete in order to verify that the faults have been repaired and new faults have not been introduced during the course of repairs.” The next paragraph in the position statement states, “Even minor body damage or glass replacement may result in damage to one or more safety-related systems on the vehicle. Any action that results in loss of battery-supplied voltage and disconnection of electrical circuits requires that the vehicle is subsequently tested to ensure proper electrical function.” 

    These are the specifications by the manufacturer. This must be done because of all the issues that can be wrong with the vehicle. This is not a recommendation — it states “all vehicles must…” I sent this in for a supplement and the insurer sent their appraiser — the same one who worked the initial estimate — out to review. He told me the insurer would not pay for the scan since it was not part of the repair procedures. Despite my contention that the GM position statement is a repair procedure or better, he still refused the supplement.

    Fast-forward to the following week where I called the insurer claims department again. Claims refused to touch this because they said that the adjustor had already made his decision. After the issue was escalated to the local manager in my area, he also didn’t see a need for a scan. Because the key was cycled on, the insurer shouldn’t be responsible for the scan and it wasn’t a part of the repair procedure, he explained. One way to avoid this would have been to dolly the vehicle to move around the shop. C’mon man, seriously?

    He assured me that he would research the issue further and get back to me. A few days went by and I received a call from another manager wanting to know what had happened. I told the same story again, yet finally this manager understood and said this was a “no brainer.” The scan got paid after a month of action.

    As collision repairers, we must bring these vehicles back to pre-existing condition. This means that scanning is a way a life now and forever. Insurance companies can tell me that we are taking scanning on a case-by-case basis and that is OK, but when you have a case like this one — that is a “no brainer” — it should be paid. The customer should not have to fight to get what they are entitled by their insurance company. Notice that I said customer should not have to fight. The insurance contract binds the insurance company to make the customer whole. Scanning is an integral part of this before the repairs begin and after the repairs are completed.

    As an industry, our mutual goal should always be a complete and safe repair. Unfortunately, the memo has not gone out to our industry like it should, and that goes for insurance companies and shops alike. C’mon insurers, get with the program. I don’t mind things being on a case-by-case basis, but get real with this policy.