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Autopromotec 2013, the trends in garage equipment technology
According to the organizers, the success of the Autopromotec fair has always been due to its formula: focus on equipment and space for manufacturers and their new products. Judging by the results in terms of exhibitors and visitors, the formula proved to be a winning one again this year.
We must say that the 2013 edition did not betray its “mission”, even in a market situation with obvious and tangible signs of trouble, especially in Europe. Garage equipment manufacturers, or at least the more farsighted ones who were able to invest in innovation and globalization, were the proof that when the ideas are good, the market acknowledges them. This was precisely the message conveyed by visitors.
Going back to garage equipment. In the diagnostics sector, one of the most dynamic and sensitive to innovations, there were interesting new developments in the use of various types PC tablets and smartphones as platforms. Apart from demonstrating manufacturers’ attention to new technologies,  this fact is a prediction of greater accessibility and ease of use of a product category that in the past was occasionally penalized for being excessively complicated. The lift sector, which is very mature and competitive, also showed interesting progress in terms of safety and reliability. European manufacturers tend to offer products that make quality at the right price the key to their proposal and are thereby differentiated from other products, especially those from outside Europe.
The same goes for the most traditional equipment for tyre specialists: tyre changers and balancers. Alongside top and advanced products, there were more conventional products, but they always tended not to compromise on quality. This can be interpreted as the increasing segmentation of the market in which a pricey product and a quality product are differentiated, thereby allowing the customer to make a reasoned choice.
Still in the sector of equipment for tyre specialists, wheel aligners deserve a separate mention;  at Autopromotec new technologies, that only yesterday seemed futuristic, demonstrated that they can now begin to be seen as widely used products. It is the case of the “touchless” wheel aligner. Until just the other day it was presented as a “concept” for future development, but for the first time at Autopromotec we saw touchless wheel aligners for everyone, which suggests interesting developments before too long.
In other fields we saw the definitive maturity of recently introduced products, such as machines for servicing air conditioning systems with HFO gas. Also here manufacturers presented completely developed products ready to enter the mass market. We hope that the political-lobbyist ups and down that have penalized this market so far will have been overcome, at last.
The world of roadworthiness tests, which lives in a dynamic associated with legislative initiatives, in a certain way has been affected by regulatory uncertainty at European level. Rather than stopping technological development, it has, perhaps, led to a wait-and-see attitude by manufacturers who want to verify legislative developments before they commit themselves to heavy investments. For example, the new-generation diesel emissions testers: we know that the current inspection procedures must be updated because they are not suitable for Euro 4 vehicles and so on; what we do not know is the direction they will take and this does not help investments. On the other hand, in the inspection sector we are also saw some new ideas and proposals, such as the brake test bench with plates integrated in the lift, and the robotized headlight tester with automatic beam recognition; interesting alternatives to traditional solutions.
If there was any need to do so, Autopromotec 2013 again demonstrated the validity of the formula: professional manufacturers who go to car repair professionals. Lastly, we like to emphasize that the organization did well not to succumb to the temptation to sell exhibition spaces at all costs. Fortunately, we didn’t see entire pavilions of companies, especially those from outside Europe, that display and offer everything, which is, sadly, the case at other fairs, even the most renowned; this is not what professional visitors are looking for. We invite Autopromotec to follow this path and hope that it will continue along the road to success.

New roadworthiness tests in the EU: Parliamentary Commissions in Brussels adopt the European Union proposal
The legislative procedure for the new European inspection package is almost at its final stage.  In practice, the new inspections proposal issued by the European Commission last July, which in December 2012 had been cut considerably by the Council of Europe, has been recovered by the votes of the relevant Commissions of the European Parliament.
The Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) and Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Commissions have reinserted the fundamental access node for all technical information about roadworthiness tests, in addition to creating a common European platform for collecting data and for electronic inspection certification. Also reintroduced is the suspension test with the recommendation to adopt a single test method harmonized at European level and with situations that already exist in some States. Both Parliamentary Commissions suggested maintaining the obligatory exhaust test and, a detail worthy of mention, they urged the adoption of new test models for modern dynamic headlights.
The inspection package, complete with the modification made by IMCO and ITRE, has been sent for scrutiny by the Parliamentary Committee on Transport and Tourism, TRAN, which has power of decision. TRAN, which met on 30 May, voted for a resolution that contains almost all the important points of the new inspection package,  as voted for by IMCO and ITRE, and also proposed a return to the legislative procedure in place of the directive, as the most suitable tool for harmonizing procedures.
It is important to note that the Parliamentary Commissions acknowledged that technical information about inspections must be available for everyone, including equipment manufacturers. What may seem a detail is in fact a fundamental element; today’s vehicles are increasingly sophisticated and roadworthiness tests are increasingly complex; it is unthinkable that the equipment does not provide the results of each test. However, this is possible only if each testing device automatically compares the measurements with the “plate data” defined by the vehicle manufacturer in accordance with the regulations.
The Transport Committee also acknowledged the suggestion put forward by the other Commissions regarding the continuation of pollution emissions tests for exhaust pipes as a major test method and the inclusion of new particulate and NOx tests for diesel engines. Also acknowledged was the need for electronic testing of dynamic headlights and a tyre pressure test was also added.
The Commission’s proposal to annually test all vehicles over 6 years old was rejected. TRAN proposed maintaining the current 4-2-2 regime.
The situation for trailers and two-wheel vehicles is more complex; at first the Council removed both categories from the vehicles to be tested. TRAN opted for a criterion that should smooth out the differences: all trailers from 750 kg to 3,500 kg will be tested, as well as O2 category trailers of up to 2,000 kg, excluding caravans and the like; roadworthiness tests are not required for all other types of trailers.  Lastly, two-wheel vehicles will not be added to the European inspection package for at least 3 years: in the meantime, the Commission will estimate the risk level of category L (two-wheels) and compare the road safety data of member States that perform inspections of these vehicles, like Italy, with those that currently do not.
The complex legislative procedure has not yet come to an end. The position of the TRAN committee now passes to the European Parliament which will vote at a plenary session in Strasburg on 2 July. When Parliament has reached a verdict, the final decision will be taken after a  joint examination by Parliament, the Council and the Committee.
The examination will continue until the end of the year: it is to be hoped that Brussels will be able to conclude the work by constructing adequate and consistent legislative provisions that go beyond the various positions and pressures. It will be helpful to remember the appeals that began the initiative: adaptation of roadworthiness procedures to technological progress and harmonization of procedures at European level to enable reciprocal recognition of inspections. And all of the above with the aim of increasing road safety.

Lifts and safety: EN 1493:2010 standard
With regard to the safety of lifts it is important to remember standard EN 1493:2010 that came into effect throughout the European Union as the specific application of the famous “Machinery Directive” 2006/42/EC.
It is important to emphasize that a determining and proactive contribution to this Directive came from the European manufacturers of lifts, members of Aica and Egea, the first to be called upon to guarantee the safety of car repairers.
The Directive covers lift design, manufacture and operational characteristics and was defined by Technical Committee Cen/Tc. In addition to adopting and transforming the law, member States must also ensure that it is observed through appropriate market surveillance. The “quality assurance” tool for lifts, as provided by the Directive, is the Declaration of Machine Conformity issued by the manufacturer. This document, which provides data about the manufacturer and responsible persons, a list of applicable standards and regulations, and the date of manufacture, must be kept by the manufacturer or importer/distributor for checks and verifications.
The points on which the Directive is based are multiple, but the most important is the concept of “integrated safety”, a principle by which the machine must be designed and built in such a way that it cannot in any way “intrinsically” cause injury to the user. Ergonomics is another priority aspect: envisage the conditions in which the operator with use the machine in order to reduce the physical and psychological stress factor to a minimum. The pursuit of all round safety must include the components: the Directive makes it obligatory for all materials used in lift construction to be non-toxic and that waste matter is easy to control and dispose of; commands must be designed in such a way as to prevent dangerous situations and in any case comply with the laws in force. Also behaviour is taken into consideration: the lifts must not create a dangerous environment for employees and in this specific case they must be protected from intrinsic operating risks. Lastly, mechanical stability and strength are other requisites.
This appears to us to be the classic example of safety going arm in arm with quality, one supporting the other.  We hope that in their own interests car repairers will meet the safety requirements at the basis of the regulation and choose the best products for the job; but we hope even more that the authorities will fulfil their obligations of surveillance, the only and irreplaceable tool for ensuring that the rules are obeyed by everyone.

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