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Autopromotec News Report: equipment  

A whole new generation of garage equipment gains momentum at autopromotec 2015. three are the main areas of development: touchless technology, quick check-ups and onsite assistance

Francesco Lojola


Saying garage equipment is a bit like saying Made in Italy: this country’s leadership in the garage equipment industry is beyond question and  the Autopromotec Show, held May 20-24, 2015 reaffirmed its global supremacy. A leadership based not only on its ability to innovate but also to set the pace of development. There was a tangible feeling of excitement throughout the fair, prompted by a flurry of original products ranging from tire changers with a movable wheel axle, able to perform match-mounting operations, to large car lifts, capable of handling some of the newest oversized cars and vans, passing to quick check-up systems for fast wheel-alignment operations, not to mention compact devices for onsite services as well as increasingly automated balancers. True, pushing the national market is mainly the renewed MctcNet2 protocol with its updated MOT test standards. But it is equally certain that the horizon in which Italian companies are currently moving is much wider (able to export more than 80% of the overall production) and a whole new generation of garage equipment is gaining momentum, culminating in numerous original proposals previewed during the Bologna trade fair, which highlighted three main areas of development: touchless technology, making it possible to measure, monitor and diagnose without touching the wheel and doing so rapidly; quick check-up operations to be performed in workshops during acceptance, with a short break to detect, print and deliver the results preparing the vehicle for the drive-through to the most urgent service; and onsite services performed using trucks fitted with compact, ergonomic equipment, easy to use in and out of the van.


Multi-service workshops

In the background, on the one hand the desire to increase the range of services offered as an answer to the all-against-all climate of a market where tire dealers, car dealers, body shops and independent garages are trying to take on secondary activities that were once considered unrelated to their work, and were therefore passed on to others. An option that finds broad consensus in a clientele that generally prefers a single multi-service shop that can satisfy all the maintenance and repair needs rather than having to turn to a myriad of workshops, although inspired by the maximum specialization. On the other hand, the increasingly tight link between diagnostics and traditional services, as well as the integration between the different types of car equipment, both on the basis of the automotive market’s evolution, making the presence of electronic-information systems increasingly ubiquitous, and the need to carry out more operations at the same time by speeding up procedures, and yet preserving the necessary instruments to convince the customer to buy the service. Leading the way, the quick wheel alignment check and the contextual inspection of the tread wear to be performed in a few seconds after entering the workshop. From this issue of Pneurama onwards the technical review section will dedicate a wide section to the new proposals on the market.


Quicker and profitable check-ups

If it is to be believed that 40% of all cars  are out of spec, it is easy to see the potentials of such operations, providing customers with real and objective data, no longer tied to a rough estimate which could not be entirely trusted. After the adoption of these new monitoring systems, the next step lies in augmented reality. Already available in prototype form, just point the tablet’s camera even just on a photo of the wheel-suspension system to receive the necessary guidelines and instructions through animations that could be viewed directly on glasses worn by the operator at work on the vehicle. The pervasive new wave embodied by touch-less devices concerns balancing machines as well, able to detect the size of the wheel without a physical contact. Moreover, talking about tire changers, not only robotic models are evolving with solutions designed to safeguard tire pressure sensors (TPMS) or rather to further speed up mounting and removal procedures, but we are witnessing the arrival on the market of diagnostic tire changers, a new system able to assemble a tire, on its own, to the correct  wheel.


Timing and efficiency even at home

News range from optional bead breaking systems to an automatic wheel locking device which eliminates the use of a pedal using a wireless control operated by a button on the sleeve. In the heavy duty lift segment, developments concern electro-mechanical mobile columns for industrial vehicles, scissor lifts and oversized platform lifts to accommodate new production vehicles, wider and bulkier than in the past, plus additional hi-tech content for the electronic management panels.

And finally, as far as mobile service is concerned, both on the road or at home just as for commercial fleets, proposals are multiplying on a daily basis such as the latest compact wheel balancers designed for onsite assistance.

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