INNOVATION IN SUBSTANCE
ESSEN GARAGE EQUIPMENT SPECIAL
It was a record-book Reifen, the trade fair where Italian garage equipment firms are at home and where there was a wave of enthusiasm, new products large and small, and the signs of evolution that continues with an eye on substance
ALMOST LIKE AN ANTIDOTE for the heavy climate of a continental market that has folded in on itself, the biannual Essen Trade Fair dispensed a healthy dose of optimism. Perhaps because of the numbers that made Reifen 2012 a record edition with over 19,000 visitors from 130 countries packing a fair animated by 653 exhibitors from 44 different nations; perhaps because of the characteristics of a wide and varied showcase, the mirror of globalization that now more than ever before reflects the directions being taken by innovations in the sector. An optimism that seemed to unite the garage equipment industry that was well represented, despite some weighty defections, by tyre removers, balancers and aligners that even hit some high notes. So the watchword for garage equipment manufacturers is “rationalize”. Or optimize their product portfolio in a way that is consistent with greater manufacturing efficiency and, above all, will increase competiveness in the lowest segments of the range.
Where the majority of sales were concentrated: both on the Old Continent, which is treading carefully in the wake of the economic crisis, and in countries were mass motorization is a much more recent phenomenon. At the same time, there is a general aggressiveness that has increased with regard to the quality/price ratio. In short, if the market won’t pay for product innovation, the rhythm will be slower and development will inevitably focus on details. So it was a case of facelifts: solutions for opportunities and improvement, like the new machine tools that raise the bar of ergonomics and accompanying functions, reduce operating times and increase services, a new software release that will increase the “friendliness” of the man-machine interface, 3D alignment that does away with run out compensation, a blocking system applied to truck tyre removers to cut costs and save space, a ready-to-use upgrade kit for conversion to a superior class. But there is also space for the contents of obvious innovations, like using several high-resolution cameras in a diagnostics centre for scanning a wheel to be balanced. So onwards they go, albeit at a slower pace, in the knowledge that he who stops is lost. Because the market is always waiting for new developments by the main players, the category of the majority of Italian industries in the sector, and the directions that their product innovations will take.
And because competition from Asia accelerates from year to year: apropos, at the fair one exhibitor out of four spoke Chinese; and the spotlights are ready to be lit on Reifen China, the fifth edition of which will open its doors in Shanghai on 22 November. But going back to Essen: the following is a brief overview of the new products and the most interesting ideas in the garage equipment segment. The next appointment with Reifen is scheduled for 27 to 30 May 2014.
The MS 680 tyre changer by Beissbarth, the Bosch group brand, is at the top of its range and now boasts WDK homologation and BMW endorsement. Standard features include an automatic wheel locking system, inverter, auxiliary arm, kits for reverse rims and tubeless tyres complete with spacers. It is made in the OES version; later, leverless configurations for UHP and RFT tyres could be launched with the Bosch and Sicam labels. Although on the market for many years, the stand was also dominated by the Easy 3D wheel aligner that takes up a limited amount of space and is relatively simple to operate.
Coinciding with the start of deliveries, Butler of Emilia exhibited the leverless tyre changer Dragster SL, the configuration of which can also be achieved for the traditional model by means of a kit. Dragster uses a lever system that will also remove the lower bead without an auxiliary arm; however, it is also available for the Plus 83 bead breaker. Also showcased was the truck tyre changer Navigator 26HW for roadside and workshop services. Suitable for vans and small workshops, it is fitted with a hydraulic chucking table and can also be used for agricultural tyres.
Absolutely new is Remo (Robotic Equipment for Measuring by Optics), Corghi’s new generation, totally hands-free wheel aligner. Two robots move along parallel rails to the vehicle lift, which not only means the total elimination of clamps but also an automatic measuring cycle of 85 seconds for low profile wheels of up to 30”. Instructions can be transmitted via iPad and iPhone to the central unit that communicates with the two robots and displays data in real time. The result of an investment of 6 million euros and the work of a dozen engineers, Remo (www.remorevolution.com) will be on the market next year and a simplified version is also planned.
The latest arrivals at Fasep with an entry-level positioning are the new compact digital balancer B222, the automatic tyre changer Rae.2022, with 22” external self-centring chucking table, and top of the range leverless tyre changer Rase.Top.2630. The latter is fitted with an inverter and comes complete with helper system and wheel lift. Bead breaking is by two parallel and automatically-synchronized rollers: top and bottom beads are removed in succession. The floating wheel support plate is self-locking. For sizes between 10” and 26” but also up to 30”.
At Essen Hunter presented the HawkEye Elite Quick Check, the system that will print out alignment data compared with factory default values in one minute, and the Road Force Touch GSP9700, a touch screen diagnostics centre with auto-calibration that is accredited with maximum simplicity of operation. One will increase workshop profitability; the other is fitted with a proprietary centring verification system designed to increase speed and precision. It has an intuitive interface and video clips that simplify training. Both are distributed by Pogliani and Rivolta.
Ravaglioli’s main new product for 2012 is the Vistar TD3000 3D wheel aligner available in the NRC configuration with grabbing clamps to avoid run out compensation, ATS, and automatic target search. Also available is a standard version wired to the lift or with batteries for fixed or mobile installation. Data transmission to the control panel is via Bluetooth and the graphic interface with 3D animation shows the steps to be carried out in sequence. With software management in Windows, the databank contains over 90,000 data sheets and can be updated by the user. It will also memorize up to 20,000 jobs with searches by name or vehicle number.
While waiting for the new products that should be available in October and will plump-up the range of balancers (models SBM V660 A, SBM 165 A and SBM 135 A), at Reifen Sicam presented a comprehensive software update for the SBM V760 AWP which can be used for all types of vehicle, motorcycle and light transport wheels (from 12” to 30”) and is also available in a version with an illuminator. The Falco AL 526 ITR tyre changer has been updated with regard to materials. Designed for working on wheels of up to 29” in diameter and with a maximum width of 14”; the improvements were mainly to the machine tools that now feature robustness and rigidity.
On display at the Snap-on stand was the Hofmann Geodyna Optima II balancer and diagnosis centre that has been on the market since the beginning of the year and was presented here with the “Reifen Innovation Award 2012” in the technology and products category. For tyre and wheel scanning, the system uses five high-resolution cameras, one of which is mobile, with 3D laser technology. Defects are shown on a video with tables and colour codes. New products, also by Hofmann, are the Geodyna 3900 balancer and the Monty 8600 tyre changer, with homologations by JohnBean B9655 and Centaur. The former is a compact machine accredited with a 6-second cycle, which can be made automatic with the optional Smart Sonar 3D. The latter is a high-productivity system fitted with an electronic bead breaker with dual servo-controlled discs.
The Teco 804 joined the range at the end of January and is an entry-level aligner. Dedicated to the wheel alignment of cars and light commercial vehicles, it is a system with data transmission to the control unit in the 2.4GHz radio frequency, Windows XP operating system, and 4 measuring heads with 8 infrared CMOS sensors. Also available in a version with 2 measuring heads. It has a primary databank of over 20,000 car and van models and a secondary archive for memorizing jobs. The system’s functions and display can also be personalized.
Werther International presented three of its principal new products at Reifen: automatic tyre changer Gemini 1522LL, electronic balancer Galaxy 1255 and 2-column hydraulic lift 210I/32 with a basic and specific type for vehicles like SUVs and large crossovers. Fitted with new generation tyre reversal column, the leverless tyre changer Gemini 1522LL will take wheels from 10” to 23” with car, motorbike and commercial vehicle tyres including RFT, EMT, PAXS, CRS and DSST. With automatic diagnosis and self-calibration, Galaxy 1255 automatically measures wheel diameter and distance and boasts 5 ALU programs for dynamic balancing with adhesive weights, 3 static balancing programs and 2 for PAX tyres.