Alexander Dennis appoints new CEO

18 June 2020

Alexander Dennis has announced that Paul Davies will take over as its President and Managing Director at the end of September.

Davies, who joined the company in 1997 and most recently served as its Regional Managing Director in Hong Kong, will succeed long-serving Chief Executive, Colin Robertson, who will join the board of parent company NFI Group Inc.

As part of NFI’s acquisition of ADL in May 2019, Robertson agreed to remain in his current role until May 2020, which has now been extended to 30 September 2020. This extension will allow for a period of transition to provide a seamless handover s and ensure business continuity when Davies returns to his native Scotland in July 2020.

Upon being appointed to the NFI Board in September in the new role as Vice Chair, Robertson will assist Board Chair, the Honourable Brian Tobin O.C. P.C., and Paul Soubry, the President and Chief Executive Officer of NFI, in supporting NFI’s international growth.

During his 13 years as Chief Executive of ADL, Robertson saw ADL’s annual turnover increase nearly fourfold to £631 million.

Robertson stated, “Leading ADL has been exciting and extremely rewarding. I am fiercely proud of what has been achieved through the hard work of the entire team and the collaborative partnerships we’ve developed with our suppliers and customers. I know the company will be in fantastic hands. Paul has been a key member of the executive team and with his thorough understanding of our business and the wider industry, I have every confidence that he will bring further success to ADL.”

Davies commented, “I’ve been very fortunate to have worked for Colin for the past 13 years and I am deeply honoured to have been selected to take on the challenge of continuing the amazing journey that we’ve experienced under his leadership. I look forward to continue working with the NFI and ADL teams and our partners to provide world-class transport solutions.”

Member profile: Powdertech Surface Science

18 June 2020

Tell us a bit about your business. When were you founded, where are you based and how many people do you employ?

Powdertech was founded in 1984 as a powder coating business with a mission to ‘do things better’.

Our founder, Martyn Green, recognised a significant gap in the market for a company combining consistently reliable high-performance coatings with a thorough understanding of customers’ own industries.

Initially employing six people at premises in Bicester, there are now two companies; Powdertech Surface Science in Bicester and Powdertech Corby, in Corby.

Both companies employ around 35 people in administrative and factory teams. Powdertech Surface Science specialises in the automotive, aerospace, medical and lighting sectors whereas the Corby plant serves the architectural market.

What does the business do?

At Powdertech Surface Science, we provide a wide range of pre-treatment, powder coating, and bonding services for aluminium, magnesium and lightweight materials. We specialise in high end niche industries, the automotive sector being an important focus of both our ongoing work and our R&D activities. We always aim to provide a personal, responsive service to customers.

Through many years spent working in the automotive and aerospace sectors, we have identified the need for a simpler and stronger bonding process for joining lightweight composite materials (such as polypropylene) to metal, aluminium in particular. This has become particularly relevant in recent years as the automotive industry focuses on carbon reduction with lightweight, electrically powered vehicles.

We have tackled the well-known polypropylene-to-metal bonding issues head-on and developed PowderBond PP – an exceptionally strong bonding process that eliminates laborious methods and weak bond strengths.

How is business? What’s the outlook for the year ahead?

Despite the Covid-19 effect we are optimistic, though there is uncertainty and understandable caution amongst our customers. We have continued work for our clients in the medical sector and other customers who have remained open. We pride ourselves on being flexible, innovative and adaptable and this gives us confidence that we will rise to meet the challenges ahead.

We certainly see PowderBond PP becoming a larger part of our business PowderBond PP is currently being used in Stalcom Automotive Technologies chassis assemblies where the use of aluminium and polypropylene composites is optimised to maximise strength whilst minimising cost. BigHead Fasteners is evaluating PowderBond PP to extend its Lean Bonding process capability to join metal fasteners to polypropylene, the most widely used thermoplastic. Both these developments deliver demonstrable proof of the power of PowderBond PP.

What are the big issues or technological advances that fill you with positivity?

The move towards weight reduction in many niche sectors, including automotive, aerospace and medical, puts us in a good place for assisting this technological shift. PowderBond PP forms bonds with strengths three times that of existing adhesives and is a simple, and clean process.

Lean manufacturing is an industry-wide objective. In our work with BigHead Lean Bonding we have two technologies with a natural synergy; our collaboration is looking specifically at creating strong reliable bonds with a simple, customer-ready process.

PowderBond PP is out there now, to be used, and we continue to develop other surface technology solutions to make our customers’ lives easier. That is always our objective.

James Grant, Director

Buses and coaches safe and ready to go

11 June 2020

The past few months have been challenging for many in the bus and coach industry. Companies have undeniably risen to the challenge of providing essential transport to key workers during this difficult time, helping to keep essential services running and the economy moving.

This has involved a gargantuan effort from an industry already struggling with decreasing ridership. Operators are enforcing social distancing – not easy when the average bus width is 2.5 metres. Other innovations have included the introduction of live tracker apps, helping passengers gauge arrival times and available capacity. And all are doing everything possible to keep their drivers and staff safe.

It’s important to remember that thousands of people rely on the bus and coach sector to make essential journeys every day in the UK, and often have little or no alternative option. As employees in cities and rural areas begin returning to work, ‘avoiding public transport’ is no longer appropriate advice. On the contrary, passenger transport via road must play a vital role in re-energising the economy – and the sector is ready to do its bit.

SMMT-JAMA joint statement on the UK and Japanese governments starting to negotiate a UK-Japan Free Trade Agreement

09 June 2020

SMMT-JAMA joint statement on the UK and Japanese governments starting to negotiate a UK-Japan Free Trade Agreement.

SMMT and JAMA welcome the start of these historic free-trade agreement negotiations between the British and Japanese governments. Our two automotive industries have had a deep and mutually beneficial trade, technology and investment relationship for nearly forty years, thanks to continuous support from both governments. In order to further enhance this long-term partnership, SMMT and JAMA believe that the conclusion of a new Japan-UK FTA based on the terms of the Japan-EU EPA – and its immediate implementation after the end of the transition period – would greatly benefit economic prosperity both in the UK and Japan.

Dr George Gillespie, President, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT)

Akio Toyoda, Chairman, Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, INC (JAMA)

Q&A with Thomas Hilse, Brand President Iveco

11 June 2020

How are you tackling the challenges presented by the COVID-19 crisis?

The most important factor was the safety of our employees. In Europe there were two hotspots – in northern Italy and Madrid – and this is exactly where the IVECO factories are. There was clear fear, so we stopped production immediately.

On re-opening we set up new protocols to keep everyone safe. Of course, it’s not ideal to be working during the European summer with a mask, but people appreciate working in safe environments. We have had to slow the production time to make sure we can keep the safety distances, but that’s not a problem.

We also had to stay close to our customers. We reached out to them, gave payment holidays, offered support to our fleet clients and continued to keep our service network operational.

We really appreciated the work of our dealers’ mechanics, who kept the workshops open, and the drivers, who were still driving while everyone was at home. These people never get the recognition they deserve, and finally society saw how important they are.

COVID-19 has focused attention on green technology. Tell us about working with Liquefied Natural Gas.

Bio Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) will come a lot earlier than people expect and we are seeing it grow with our customer base already. LNG is the enabler for bio LNG. You have look at it like this: LNG is the platform, bio LNG is the rocket.

If you wait for the availability of completely emission-free fuels, whether they are bio LNG or hydrogen, it will not work. If you just wait and say, ‘I want everything now: the infrastructure, the fuel at the same cost of diesel today and I also want the same the supply network’, you will be disappointed.

So we have to start with fossil fuels and I regard LNG as a friendly fossil fuel because it offers advantages, such as a reduction in CO2 emissions of about 8-10%, as well as additional benefits including a 95% reduction in NOx and significant noise reduction.

LNG is still a fossil fuel, but it enables many countries to be 10% more economical compared with diesel, and it is a viable solution. My view is that 10% is better than nothing. It is the first step.

The infrastructure of LNG has developed dramatically over the past three or four years – we now have about 300 filling stations all over Europe, although the UK is bit behind. It will skyrocket when bio LNG becomes available – I think 5-10% of the global market will go to bio LNG.

The bio LNG in Europe is very different from what is debated by a lot of environmentalists. It’s not made from palm oil from Indonesia orMalaysia, or from sugar cane in Brazil. It is made from waste – locally produced refuse and residue from farms – so I do believe LNG is a path to the future.

What about hydrogen?

We will have to move to hydrogen. To build up the hydrogen infrastructure in Europe there are technical challenges to be solved, but on the vehicle side we are very close.

Governments and the European Union have to promote this and make it easy, but economic programmes coming out of the coronavirus crisis should accelerate the moves into this new technology.

So, in my opinion we should move with LNG first, then bio LNG and then hydrogen. The major fuel from 2030 onwards will be hydrogen, but there won’t just be one technology out there – be it improved diesel, biogas as well as hydrogen.

Tell us about your hydrogen truck.

We are planning to launch our hydrogen truck in 2023, in partnership with Nikola Motor Company. We are starting with a 6×2 trailer truck because you can easily hide the batteries. If you look at the CO2 emissions from the truck sector, 50% of them come from long-haul. You must tackle this head-on or it will never go away.

We are adopting a modular strategy. It is a heavy-duty truck with its new design. All the hardware is from Iveco but the drivetrain technology comes from Nikola. We will launch the battery version at the end of 2021 and 13 months later we will bring in the hydrogen version.

What is the big issue for CV sector in the next 20 years?

Of course, we will need to see how the transport industry transforms after Brexit. I think we will continue to align on everything road transport related.

Then we have issues with driver recruitment and the shortage of professional drivers. I know in the UK it is tough, but even in the southern European countries it’s difficult to find drivers. That’s why it’s important to build trucks that are comfortable and that look good to ensure we attract more drivers for many years to come.

We’ve already touched on the need for a transformation to zero emissions technology and this is one of the biggest changes the sector faces, but one that we in Iveco are well placed to manage. This transformation needs to come as a result of investment in the technology and infrastructure as well as support by government if we are to see a clear move going forwards.

What’s next?

I think there is an unbelievable amount of ambition that will help us rebound after the pandemic has passed: people in our industry feel that the future is in their hands. It will take a year, maybe two to fully recover, but I don’t think this will leave too much structural damage. I am confident that we will be back, fighting fit.

Fiat unveils electric Ducato van

11 June 202

Fiat has revealed its all-electric-Ducato van due to go on sale in autumn.

The e-Ducato is the Italian brand’s first zero-emissions commercial vehicle and has entered the final stages of its development programme.

The e-Ducato’s electric motor offers similar performance to the van’s.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine, with peak power output of 121bhp and 280Nm of torque. The motor allows the panel van to haul a payload of up to 1,950kg although Fiat has limited its top speed to 62mph to maximise the vehicle’s range.

Buyer can choose either a 47kWh or 79kWh battery pack, which provide claimed ranges of 124 or 205 miles respectively. When plugged into a 7kW wallbox charger, the smaller unit will recover a full charge in eight hours, while with a 50kW DC fast-charger, the same battery will reach 80% capacity in just 50 minutes.

The e-Ducato’s battery pack is mounted under the van’s floor and its electric motor occupies the same space as the standard Ducato’s combustion engine, which means it retains the same carrying capacity. Load volume is identical, with between 10 and 17 cubic metres of space on offer, depending on the selected body style.

From launch, the e-Ducato will be available as either a panel van or a chassis cab. The former option will be available in three lengths and three heights, while the latter will offer a choice of four lengths. A minibus variant will also be available, offering seating for up to nine passengers.

Fiat has also updated the e-Ducato’s interior. In place of the standard van’s rev-counter there’s a new charge indicator. There’s also a new control unit mounted to the driver’s A-pillar, which can be used to set the van’s daily charging schedule.

Fiat says the e-Ducato has been designed for shorter applications such as a last-mile delivery vehicle or a short-distance shuttle in city centres.

First Bus announces app update to live-track bus capacity

11 June 2020

Bus operator First Bus has updated its app so passengers can check if the bus they are planning to catch is full.

The update will enable customers across the UK to live-track the location of their next bus and, as social distancing rules allows fewer passengers on board, information about the available capacity can be accessed.

First Bus is the first major bus operator to roll out live capacity tracking, aiming to reduce uncertainty for customers and allowing them to make informed decisions about their essential journeys.

The app update will show customers a bus icon on a map depicting the live location and available capacity of each vehicle in the locality.

The advance has been made possible by First Bus’s new passenger counting functionality, announced at the end of May. Data from this system feeds directly to the First Bus app in real time. This app update coincides with First Bus doubling the number of buses operating across England. First Bus expects to be able to increase service levels across its networks in Scotland and Wales in the coming weeks.

To further support social distancing and in addition to passenger-counting, seats on each bus are now clearly marked indicating where customers should sit.

Giles Fearnley, Managing Director of First Bus, said, “We are really proud to have been able to fast-track this technology to ensure safe, informed travel during these difficult times. Our buses provide an essential service for our customers and we are doing all we can to support them.”

Two separate ventures for development of hydrogen-powered and fuel cell trucks announced

11 June 2020

This week two major developments were announced that will enable a greener future for heavy duty trucks.

Fuel cell truck manufacturer Nikola, and CV manufacturer Daimler Truck, have both taken significant steps forwards to getting electric and hydrogen fuel cell heavy-duty trucks on the road.

Nikola, a USA-based start-up went public in a reverse merger and signed a big hydrogen deal raising £550 million.

Mark Russell, Nikola’s chief executive, said that the latest development will accelerate the company’s ability to get its trucks into production at Iveco’s manufacturing facility in Ulm, Germany, which is scheduled for 2021. This will be the first full-production, all-electric, zero-emissions semi-truck assembly line in the world.

Meanwhile Daimler Truck launched Daimler Truck Fuel Cell in a joint venture with Volvo Group to develop hydrogen fuel cells for commercial vehicles.

The fuel cell company’s creation follows the announcement in April of Daimler and Volvo’s joint venture to develop, produce and commercialise hydrogen fuel cell systems for HGVs and buses.

This latest move ramps up the race to develop a hydrogen fuel cell-powered truck.

Daimler Truck Fuel Cell, led by joint MDs Andreas Gorbach and Christian Mohrdieck, will be at the centre of the joint venture

Martin Daum, chairman of Daimler Trucks, said, “The fuel cell is a crucial CO2-neutral solution for trucks in heavy long-distance transport. We and our future joint venture partner, Volvo Group, are convinced of this.

“We are determined to jointly tackle the development and series production of fuel cells and are now taking major steps with all the necessary preparations for the planned joint venture.”

The joint venture, which is subject to regulatory approval, plans to have its first two trucks on the road by 2024/25, ahead of mass production by the mid-2030s.

Goodyear launches tracker app designed to reduce downtime

11 June 2020

Goodyear has launched a tracker app to help fleets to accurately measure the condition of their vehicles’ tyres and reduce downtime.

The Goodyear Fleet Tracker app allows fleet managers to pinpoint the right time to plan tyre maintenance and to replace tyres.

André Weisz, Managing Director of Goodyear Proactive Solutions EMEA, said, “Goodyear Fleet Tracker will provide detailed mileage follow-up data with up to 95 per cent accuracy to fleet managers and service providers. This way, the lifetime of tyres and total cost of ownership, can be significantly optimised.

“The user-friendly solution helps to determine the right time to change, regroove or retread the tyres – not too soon and certainly not too late – in order to prevent a potential issue.”

The app also has a GPS-enabled signal that allows fleet managers to better trace their vehicles in operation or to locate a trailer parked for a longer time on a distant location.

Weisz added, “High-value cargo transport has a special interest in the new Goodyear Fleet Tracker, as it supports their teams in retrieving the vehicle’s journey history in case of a potential theft. Route tracing is offering specific added-value for facility fleets, such as waste collection trucks or public buses, where it is important that the planned route is followed and completed.”

Member Profile – Winton Engineering

11 June 2020

When was Winton Engineering founded?
It was founded in 1984 by Mr Bill Winton, and the company was responsible for developing the Drive Line Power Take Off (DLPTO) system, which was given a worldwide patent in 1986. The business was acquired in 2015 by the Mattei Group, manufacturer and supplier of the air compressors driven by the Winton DLPTO since the early 1990s.

What do you do?
Winton Engineering is an innovative designer, manufacturer and installer of on-vehicle power solutions required by varying industries.

What does on-vehicle power mean?
Many people in a multitude of trades and businesses require compressed air, electric and hydraulic power that is mobile.

Many companies requiring such power still tow around heavy ancillary equipment to achieve their end goal. Whether it is as complex as breaking soil to replace gas, electric or water mains, or as simple as removing a nut from a wheel, all of the tools the end users require to complete the task in hand need power of some description.

Winton Engineering’s design and installation expertise enables the end user to mount compressors, generators and hydraulic pumps under a vehicle, using the power provided by a vehicle’s engine to drive these units – hence the term ‘on-vehicle power’.

Who uses the Winton system?
Regardless of the fact that our country, like most other countries throughout the world, has been badly hit by this ghastly virus, we all still relied on a smooth and efficient service from essential businesses such as our utility and supply chain companies, whether it be water, gas or electric, food distribution or breakdown roadside support vehicles. We needed them all to try to maintain some sense of normality. It is for these companies within their specialised fields that we have managed to maintain a throughput of new vehicles equipped with on-vehicle power systems, as well as the repair and support of existing fleets, all while still managing to maintain social distancing within governmental guidelines.

Who owns the company now?
Winton Engineering is owned by the Mattei Group with the ultimate parent company being Ing. Enea Mattei SpA based in Milan, Italy.

Mattei, an industrial compressor manufacturer with more than 100 years’ experience, is renowned for continuous investment in the development and improvement of its rotary vane compressor technology to ensure that it remains the industry leader in terms of energy efficiency and reliability.

Mattei’s strategic acquisition of Winton Engineering allows us to develop and grow the business with exciting new on-vehicle power solutions for both the UK and overseas markets.

Where are you based and how many people do you employ?
Based in Woking, Surrey, we employ around 35 people, with mechanical and electrical automotive engineering skillsets including mobile service engineers, all backed by a team of exceptionally competent administrative support staff.

How many mobile engineers do you have?
We originally started with five mobile service engineers. Thanks to a new partnership with Rivus Fleet Solutions, announced at the Commercial Vehicle Show at the NEC in April 2019, our team will ultimately consist of 51 mobile service engineers with additional access to 54 static garages and workshops – providing true nationwide coverage in support of our customers.

How is the business doing?
Like many within our industry and beyond, we have had to face the difficulties that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed upon us. However, during these difficult times Winton Engineering has been able to remain operational in both production and service support for our customers, many of which are classed as essential services. The remainder of this year, at the very least, will be a testing time, as it will be for us all.

What keeps you positive?
As technology progresses, so do the solutions that Winton Engineering can offer. Even though it started with a simple generator and compressor installation, the ethos is ‘if it can be powered by an engine, we can probably find a solution’.

To this end we have gone far beyond the original concept created by Bill Winton, who is now enjoying his well-earned retirement, and even Bill would be impressed with where his old company has gone and what we are striving to accomplish in this very competitive market.

How is business looking for the future?
Having had a successful 2019, we were looking forward to a promising 2020. However we now know there will be many unexpected challenges to face over the coming months, due to the COVID-19 crisis. That said, we were already proactively looking at ways to ensure we can continue to show growth throughout this year and beyond.

We have investments planned to expand and enhance our production processes, while also bringing in new engineering talent to the business to help us develop our systems further, ensuring we can provide our customers with the best available technology for on-vehicle power.

Steve Packer, Business Development Manager – Winton Engineering