Hofmann Megaplan Blog
The DVSA intends to double down on MOT fraud, its latest business plan report has confirmed.
With over 1,300 confirmed cases of MOT fraud recorded last year, the organisation is well aware of the issue - and says it plans to use ‘intelligence-based targeting’ to track the movements of vehicles. By employing this technology, the DVSA hopes to catch out garages issuing MOT tests to vehicles that haven’t even visited the garage.
“We will increase our capability and capacity to investigate serious fraud and criminal activity by using advanced technology surveillance equipment and associated data processes for MOT surveillance, under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA),” states the report.
This year, it plans to prosecute 10% more MOT fraud cases than last year, targeting the companies that - in its words - ‘choose not to do things right.’
Strong opposition to biennial MOT proposals
In other MOT-related news, a petition against proposals to make the now-annual test a biennial requirement - in response to the current cost of living crisis - has been gathering steam. It emerged a number of weeks ago that the government was considering reducing the frequency of MOT tests to help ease the burden on families and individuals suffering due to high energy and fuel bills. The idea was met with criticism from road safety experts and garage owners, not least Stephen Browne of Meadowfield AutoCentre in Newcastle Upon Tyne, the man behind the petition.
“If this gets through and the frequency is extended to every two years, I would have to sack a member of staff immediately and then I’d need to put all my prices up," Stephen said, speaking to Garage Wire.
“How you can call this a saving to customers, I don’t know. Realistically, an MOT tester can only go six months without doing an MOT before they’re no longer an MOT tester and then they’d need a demonstration test for the DVSA before they can start testing again. There'll be no testing stations left by the time these vehicles will need an MOT again. People will lose their jobs, MOT testing stations will close and then there will be a backlog in two years’ time when everyone needs an MOT again. In these situations, everyone assumes somebody’s going to do something but then nobody does anything. Then we all shake our fists and say this should never have happened. I just want to show our strength and raise these very real risks – if we can all sing from the same hymn sheet, our argument is so much stronger.”
At the time of writing, the change.org petition had attracted just over of 7,000 signatures.
We will be showcasing the latest machines from Hofmann Megplan, hosting 1-2-1 demonstrations and we’ll be available to answer any questions you may have.
You can expect a whole host of benefits this June at the one-of-a-kind UK Garage and Bodyshop Event, including free breakfast to those arriving before 10am and *free parking, to name a few. Kickstarting on 8-9th June at the NEC in Birmingham, the free-to-register, national event is open to the entire industry, and after the past two years, we would love to meet you in person once again.
The UK Garage and Bodyshop Event has been designed to put the technician firmly in the driving seat and to help futureproof the automotive aftermarket, with over 65 live training sessions available, delivered from more than 45 of the industry’s established and well-known professionals This includes exclusive, free expert training for EV, bodyshop and workshops covering skills, recruitment, digitalisation, infrastructure, customer service and how to improve everyday efficiencies.
Grant Elrick, sales director at Messe Frankfurt UK, organisers of the exhibition, said: “Garage and Bodyshop technicians play an integral role in not only keeping the automotive aftermarket surviving and thriving, but also in helping to ensure the UK roads are as safe and secure as possible. “This event will be a celebration of the entire industry and its hard work, which is why it will be jam-packed with happy hours, entertainment surprises, and the latest in technical training, trends and product updates. The wheels are now firmly in motion, with over 3,000 in-person attendees expected through the doors in June – we look forward to seeing you there!”
Free tickets are available to the show here.
*Free parking will be available to garage and bodyshop owners, technicians, and apprentices, with vouchers being sent via email.
Now is the perfect time to scale up your MOT offering - or begin testing for the first time. That’s according to new research from BookMyGarage.
The company recently published the results of a freedom of information (FOI) request it submitted to the DVSA for data on monthly MOT figures.
According to the data it received in return, garages look set to experience another lull in MOT testing demand this spring - a consequence of the six-month extension put in place during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
Last April and May, 2.3 million fewer MOT tests took place than during the same period in 2019 - suggesting that the peaks and troughs in demand will continue into the future.
The time to invest
Based on this new information, BookMyGarage has suggested that now is the time to scale up MOT provisions in readiness for a spike in demand in September and October.
Karen Rotberg, co-founder of BookMyGarage, said: “There’s never been a better time to adapt fast by increasing market share and gaining conquest bookings – the months ahead will once again see historically low MOT numbers, yet garages can battle this shortfall by offering consumers the added transparency and convenience of a digital customer journey.
“April and May will be tough months because as well as fewer MOTs, there will be less servicing work. In fact, our research shows that nearly 70% of drivers aim to have their vehicle serviced when they get their MOT. Losing this opportunity instead of gaining ground lost to fast-fits or other rivals could deal a significant blow to any garage.”
“With a post-summer rush in sight before long, it is the time to scale up capacity ahead of the busy September to December period. While this year will be highly backloaded, garages can act and adapt now.”
Explore our range of ATL MOT equipment
Whatever your MOT equipment needs, Hofmann Megaplan has the product to suit. Our expansive ATL MOT equipment range has been built to last and perform consistently, day in, day out.
If you’re looking to get into MOT testing for the first time, we can also provide tailored, hands on support to help you get up to speed in no time. Learn more about what we do today.
Martin Brown, who heads up the fleet management company, said in an interview with Fleet Management Weekly that he believed infrastructure growth was also on track.
“While it’s slightly daunting to look and see the deadline is being so close, the pace of EV growth in the UK has been phenomenal,” he said. “I’m actually quite optimistic despite news coverage about a lack of infrastructure. I believe that infrastructure is now growing at a pace.
“The issues that we had 12 months ago aren’t the issues that we have today. Range anxiety is lessening as the range of the vehicles improves, and I think that some players like Tesla have played a big part in fostering EV growth.
“If you told me 12 months ago that we’d see this level of growth, I wouldn’t have believed you. Yet, despite fewer business miles being driven in the past year, that change might be a better fit for electric vehicles.
“Lower mileage and shorter journeys mean that it’s easier to get the electric vehicle uptake in. It also takes away some of the range anxiety concerns. We are finding that people are less likely to travel on public transport, so we might have more people taking a car rather than taking the train and the bus.
“Overall, the market has yet to settle down, and I don’t think we know how it’s going to look in maybe 24 or 36 months.”
What does this mean for workshops?
Martin’s comments will certainly bring comfort to early EV adopters, but what about garage owners? Change is most certainly afoot, and as fleets begin to order EVs by the boatload, mechanics will soon be expected to work on them on a regular basis. Investing in the appropriate training and specialist EV servicing equipment now should pay off in the years to come.
2030 might seem a while away, but before too long it’ll be upon us - and all of the brand-new petrol and diesel models we’re so used to seeing in 2022 will disappear from new car showrooms for good.
This obviously has serious implications for the car manufacturing industry (and for supplying dealerships), but what about the nation’s independent garages and workshops? How will they cope - and will it actually affect their day-to-day operations much?
The first potential bump in the road for independent garages is manpower (or lack thereof). A recent study by the Motor Ombudsman indicated that garages are struggling to find staff with EV experience - or find the time and money to send them on appropriate training courses.
38% of those asked said that they only had a limited number of people on their books trained to work on EVs, which could make the going tough as more and more Electric and Hybrid vehicles roll into the workshop.
Over the next few years, garage owners will need to set time and money aside to train their staff on EV-specific servicing and repair techniques. If they don’t, they may find their regular work diminishing post-2030.
Access to EV servicing equipment
The myriad of technical differences between EVs and internal combustion-powered vehicles means that specialist equipment and tooling is required to maintain them. Most workshops don’t currently have this equipment in their arsenal, but now is a great time to invest; EV sales are accelerating rapidly year-on-year, so the sooner you’re able to work on them, the better.
At Hofmann Megaplan, we have a range of specialist equipment to cater for every EV need, from specially designed vehicle and battery lifts to hand tools. Explore our full range of EV servicing equipment online today and kit your workshop out in readiness for 2030.
A study by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has indicated that EV charging point installations are failing to keep up with the rising demand for the vehicles themselves.
According to the organisation, the ratio of charging points to EVs fell by 31% in 2020; at the end of 2019, there were 11 vehicles to one charger on average, while in 2020 there were 16 vehicles to every charging point.
This situation isn’t likely to improve any time soon, as one in six new cars registered in 2021 were electric - a proportion that’s likely to increase sharply in the run up to the 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel vehicles.
The SMMT’s analysis also revealed the most EV-friendly (and unfriendly) areas of the UK. Perhaps unsurprisingly, London took the joint top spot, with just ten cars per charging point - a figure matched by the North East. Wales fared well too (12:1), with Northern Ireland and Scotland following closely behind (17:1).
The worst-performing areas in terms of charging point availability, the North West and East of England, were found to have 49 cars to every charging point.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, commented: “Appetite for electric vehicles has never been higher, but making Britain a net zero nation means convincing everyone, wherever they live, that an electric car can meet their needs. Those who can’t have their own home charge point need the confidence that they can still charge as conveniently as they can refuel. A deteriorating ratio of public charge points to cars will drain that confidence.
“Recent Government funding for infrastructure was welcome but more private sector investment in public charge points is needed across the country. The UK therefore needs a framework of regulation that makes it easier to fund, build and operate electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Consequently we need commensurate and binding targets for charge point rollout and reliability so that all those without a driveway or designated parking can be confident of finding a convenient charger, and one that works.
“Decarbonising road transport is essential if we are to address climate change but it needs a framework that compels all sectors to match the investment already being made by automotive to help consumers decarbonise their lives.”
Explore our full range of EV servicing equipment online today.
As 2021 drew to a close, used car prices in Britain were showing no signs of levelling out. According to the latest figures from Motors.co.uk, average prices for the 50 most popular models rose another 4.7% in November - that’s £729 on average.
Independent car dealerships put their prices up most according to the data (9.2%), while car supermarkets and franchised dealers increased average prices by 2.7% and 2.3% respectively.Motors.co.uk reported that the top seller was Vauxhall’s Corsa, perhaps no surprise as it’s consistently one of the best-selling new cars too. On average, Corsa’s spent just over 11 days on dealership forecourts before they were snapped up.
The pandemic sparked the price rises, which began midway through 2020. A worldwide semiconductor shortage affected new car availability and forced many to shop for a used car, leading to unprecedented demand. Used vehicle prices are high across Europe, but figures from Indicata suggest that here in Britain they’re the highest of all. According to its research, used car values here rose a further 28% in 2021, on top of the rises already seen in 2020.
“This current market trend of demand exceeding supply looks set to continue into the back end of 2022,” said Indicata Group Sales Director, Jon Mitchell. “Both the wholesale and retail markets have got to get used to prices at this level being the new normal.
“Stock levels show no sign of improving which guarantees prices will remain strong. There are restricted numbers of part exchanges coming into the market and a vast number of leasing contracts continue to be extended until such time as new car supplies improve.”
We are delighted to announce the appointment of Chris Jones as Head of Wheel Alignment & ADAS for the ISN team, looking after all aspects of product and customer development and support for our Atlas, Atlas Platinum and Hofmann Megaplan brands. Chris joined as a fresh-faced youngster more years ago than he would probably like us to mention 🙂 but in that time has evolved into what we believe is one of the industry's most knowledgeable and conscientious alignment & ADAS specialists.
Chris and his wife recently became parents for the first time and can be seen here pictured during a recent visit to our Italian factory. Sadly, Chris is an avid, if not slightly obsessed, Liverpool fan. However, we have never held that against him and we wish him all the very best in his new role.
If you would like to learn more about ADAS and even speak to the man himself, visit our website today http://ow.ly/ujvq50HVJpn to register your interest.
As we all know, Electric Vehicles (EVs) are the hot topic within the automotive industry at the moment and that isn’t going to change anytime soon – in fact, there are quite a few areas of interest for many professionals following EV development...and the dates of when all new petrol and diesel car sales will be banned is a key area!
The UK government announced some time ago that there are already (ambitious) plans in place to ban the sale of all new petrol and diesel car sales by 2030, which caused immediate concerns for garage owners and mechanics alike, relating to how that will change the face of automotive aftersales service moving forwards. One in four UK households, equating to 6.5million, plan to buy an EV in the next five years but due to the lack of consumer confidence in battery life and charging facilities, there is still a long way to go.
The European Union has announced the proposed date of 2035 for the ban on sale of all new petrol and diesel cars – including hybrids – with 55% vehicular CO2 emissions decrease from current levels by 2030. This comes as part of a package of measures outlined by the EU to help with the development of the EV rollout.
It’s clear that car manufacturers are using these dates to continue the development and progression of their EV ranges, however garages are yet to take the plunge into investing for the future (even though we are seeing more and more EVs on the roads in the UK!).
Taking the plunge into EV servicing...
It’s not unusual for independent garage operators to be hesitant about investing in new equipment. At Hofmann Megaplan we saw the same trend when ADAS diagnostics were first introduced...
However, many garages are now reaping the benefits of ADAS servicing and the select few businesses that become ‘early adopters’ and turn their hand to EV services first, will establish themselves as the local leaders for Electric Vehicle maintenance. It would be hard for any consumer to think of going anywhere else!
Our brand new range of EV servicing equipment will have you covered:
This is a genuine problem the automotive industry currently faces and the battery life of Electric Vehicles (EVs) has been in the spotlight over the last couple of months, as this is one of the main reasons there is a lack of consumer confidence.
Electric cars are still relatively new and everyone is just starting to find out a little bit more of what to expect from them in the future.
However, it isn’t just consumers that have potential issues about the longevity of EVs. Automotive professionals from garage owners to mechanics, and even parliamentary personnel, have all been raising concerns about the lack of charging stations, battery life and a lack of EV knowledge when it comes to maintenance and servicing.
So...have you ever wondered what would happen if you’re stuck in a five-mile traffic jam with an electric car that doesn’t have a full charge?
EV battery life simulation by Which?...
Consumer advocacy group Which? has attempted to address concerns that an EV’s battery would drain rather quickly if the driver used the air conditioning, heated seats, and other options while stuck in traffic.
To help with consumer confidence, Which? used the latest Volkswagen ID.4 electric and through conducting the simulation of being at a standstill for an hour with the lights on, changing the cabin temperature, streaming music, and watching films on rear-seat screens had only a little influence on energy consumption, resulting in a loss of only 2% capacity, or eight miles of range.
The test was conducted with music being streamed through the Android Auto system embedded into the infotainment system to see how battery capacity was affected by the vehicle remaining stationary.
Both front heated seats were also set to the highest temperature, the air conditioning was on full blast, the dipped headlights were turned on and a tablet was plugged into a USB connector in the back seats was playing a movie.
The VW’s battery only lost 2% of its 77kWh capacity after just over an hour and 15 minutes, equating to only eight miles of range.
Which? did note, however, that its controlled test was conducted on a hot day, and that cold temperatures will have a greater impact on the car’s power consumption and said that they would conduct a similar test during the winter.
Despite the calls from the DVSA for vehicle owners to bring forward their MOT to the Spring of 2021, it seems the backlog for MOT testing could exceed one million MOTs per month for the rest of the year, thanks to the MOT exemption.
During the months of March to July 2020, a decrease of over 5.3 million MOT tests was seen compared to the same period in 2019.
A year on from one of the craziest years of most of our lives, MOT tests have resumed, and companies such as Continental Tyres are predicting huge increases in testing throughout some of the Autumn and Winter months:
- 23% in September
- 42% in November
- 51% in December
Tracey Mortimer, Continental Tyres consumer sales director UK, said: “Traditionally, there is a fairly consistent demand for MOT testing across the year. For example, between three and 3.5 million MOTs were conducted each month during 2018 and 2019, with only slight peaks in demand in March and September linked to new car registrations, and a slight dip in tests in December.
“The postponements to millions of MOTs in 2020 has now created a new seasonal demand curve, which is likely to take over 10 years to return to pre-2020 levels.”
Preparation for UK garages...
Workshops across the UK are beginning to think about how they can prepare for an incredible increase in demand for MOT servicing, without overwhelming their staff or their garage equipment.
Although the automotive industry has seen numerous increases in servicing demand over the past 12 months, many garages have not made the necessary steps to future proof their equipment, services or their business’ future – and now they are starting to feel the pressure. For some business owners, this is a step into the unknown but this increase could be too much for their services to handle; MOT equipment breakdowns and staff exhaustion are two key areas that will need to be carefully considered leading up to this vital point in the year.
Unfortunately, we at Hofmann Megaplan can’t manage your staff for you – however, our specialist MOT division can help you increase the efficiency of your MOT services, whilst providing expert MOT equipment.
Find out more online at https://www.hofmann-megaplan.co.uk/products/atl-mot or call our team on 01480 8-9-10-11 to discuss your requirements.
The latest concern for the government, garages and consumers across the UK surrounding Electric Vehicles (EVs), is the lack of skills to perform servicing, maintenance and repair on these vehicles moving forward.
Despite the pressures placed on car manufacturers to achieve the 2030 ambitions set by the government, there seems to be no thought about the aftermarket for EVs and how garages will be able to upskill their workforce to cope with the demand.
According to the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), at the end of 2020 only 6.5% of the automotive sector was EV-ready – the IMI reported that this is leading to a lack in consumer confidence and a key reason why not everyone is convinced about the viability of EVs.
Despite this, the latest SMMT data reveals that battery electric vehicles (BEVs) accounted for more than one in 10 (10.7%) new car registrations in June 2021, followed by 8.7% for traditional hybrids and 6.5% for plug-in-hybrids.
So, with consumers seemingly turning to a greener form of transport in recent months, what is the plan to get the UK garage workforce up to speed with EVs?
Time to ramp up EV skills training...
Although the evidence and need for training & upskilling the current UK garage workforce is obvious, putting the relevant training in place is going to be huge task.
IMI CEO Steve Nash commented: “The fact that our analysis shows such a big deficit in the EV skilled workforce should ring alarm bells for government, with its big ambitions for 2030. The recent House of Commons Public Accounts Committee report into the transition to zero-emission vehicles highlighted the need to train and retrain the workforce required to service the new car fleet. But highlighting the need and actually committing to investment in the upskilling are two very different things. And the current skills gap right across the UK economy, exacerbated by a combination of Covid-19 and Brexit is adding a further dimension to the challenge.”
The institute also added that for all those who are likely to work on EVs, the relevant training must be addressed as a matter of urgency, regardless of whether they are service and repair technicians or those working in the roadside recovery and blue light sectors.
EV servicing equipment to put your garage on the map!
If you are looking to get your EV servicing off to a great start, sourcing the right garage equipment is a necessary investment – here at Hofmann Megaplan, we can get your garage kitted out for every EV eventually.
As expected, the MOT exemption put in place last year to aid vehicle owners is set to cause even more havoc this year – specifically, this Autumn. MOTs are predicted to surge once again throughout the Autumn months of August, September and October, in line with the rise from 2020.
Since the beginning of 2021, the DVSA has been urging vehicle owners who have an MOT due in August, September, October or November this year, to bring it forward into the months of April, May, June or July.
A DVSA spokesperson said:
“Last year we issued exemptions to help keep industry moving during the pandemic.
“As a result, test dates are not evenly spread throughout the year and August, September, October and November are significantly busier than usual.
“For peace of mind, we are advising vehicle owners with test dates in August, September, October and November to bring their vehicle in for test during May, June or July instead, to avoid the busier months.”
Has it worked?
It would appear not.
Despite calls from the aftermarket for more visibility of the advice, the DVSA failed to encourage vehicle owners to bring forward their MOTs this Spring – leading to another expected sharp rise in MOT services this Autumn.
Make sure your garage is ready for this Autumn...
Talk to the experts to see how we can help you deal with the expected demand (especially if you only managed to scrape by last Autumn).
The fully qualified MOT team at Hofmann Megaplan have been busy installing brand new MOT bays throughout lockdown as many garage owners seized the opportunity and made sure their equipment is up to scratch and ready to cope with the expected increase in demand.
Is it about time you did the same?
Covering five different countries, including France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK, and speaking to more than 10,000 Electric Vehicle (EV) drivers from across those countries, NewMotion’s EV Driver Survey is said to be the largest and most comprehensive in the industry to date...and you could learn so much from it!
Garage owners and mechanics alike are starting to think about EV equipment and asking the questions:
- What do consumers think of EVs?
- What access do EV drivers currently have to charging stations?
- What are consumers expectations for the future?
This information is readily available for you to download now, just visit NewMotion by clicking here.
So, what are Hofmann Megaplan’s key takeaways from this survey?
3 Key Takeaways...
- Breadth and diversity emerging among EV drivers across all countries.
The survey indicates that there is no ‘average’ EV driver and urges the market to not think there is a single profile for what an EV driver looks like.
Two-thirds were aged 25-54, in the central section of their working lives. Drivers in the UK were particularly young, with 16% of them under 25, while Belgium had the strongest take-up among over-65s, at 17%.
- Drivers want more, faster, interoperable charge points
Two improvements to the charging experience for EV drivers were particularly popular; better and faster availability of public charging points, and charge point interoperability.
Better availability of public charge points came out strongly overall, with 48% choosing it – and 43% in the UK. This was beaten on average by faster EV charging, which was at the top of the list for 52% of drivers overall but only 41% for the UK.
Next in line is charge point interoperability, with 36% wanting a single charge card for every public charge point (28% in the UK).
- Financial benefits beaten by environmental reasons for consumers choosing an EV
The research also found that drivers are increasingly choosing electric vehicles for eco reasons rather than financial; a total of 58% of drivers across all markets said they had opted for an EV for sustainability reasons versus 34% for financial reasons.
Interestingly, the gap between the two was closer in France and the UK; in both markets 31% of respondents said eco reasons ranked highest, with 21% of French EV drivers selecting financial reasons and 18% of UK drivers.
ADAS has been a constant source of development over the past few years and due to the recent announcement on Automated Lane Keeping Assistance (ALKS), it seems there are no signs of it slowing down.
The government has announced that self-driving cars could be allowed on UK motorways by the end of 2021, with the Department for Transport confirming that ALKS will be the first type of hands-free driving to be legalised, with speeds limited to 37mph.
Before ALKS will be allowed to grace the UK roads however, these systems must meet four non-negotiable criteria:
- Without causing an incident, the vehicle must have the capability to safely change lanes.
- The vehicle must have the capability to safely pull over to the side of the road.
- The systems on the vehicle must be able to recognise UK road signs.
- Data must be made available remotely through a neutral server for any incident to verify who was in charge at the time of the incident.
Although the announcement has been met with some scepticism over safety (this is in relation to the fact that drivers will still need to be alert and prepared to take over controls within 10 seconds), ALKS is currently going through each stage of development and represents the future of self-driving vehicles.
So, where does that leave businesses within the automotive aftermarket?
What does that mean for your garage?
As mentioned in our previous blog, the need for ADAS calibration is increasing across the UK. With an ever-growing number of ADAS systems being fitted to vehicles, it can only mean that if you don’t offer these vital calibrations, your garage will be left behind.
Ensuring you invest in a high-quality ADAS systems is a must, alongside the specialist training for every employee that will be conducting ADAS diagnostics.
For many independent garage owners, ADAS can appear a quite daunting technological advance. But in reality, it’s little more than a camera system, often mounted in the windscreen, monitoring short to medium range activities such as changing speed limits, or white lines; and a radar system, located in the front grill area, managing active cruise control and emergency braking systems.
If, for example, a frontal impact misaligns the radar unit, or the camera is slightly repositioned when a windscreen is replaced, it’s possible that the ADAS systems won’t work correctly. This is where ADAS alignment systems come in and, it’s where some garages have embraced the opportunity, invested in equipment and are making money.
ADAS Equipment up close...
ADAS alignment rigs are typically made up of a large frame and a diagnostic tool; allowing the user to test and re-align the camera and radar systems as necessary. These are split into two main categories; Analogue and Digital. Hofmann Megaplan has been at the forefront of ADAS alignment equipment since the very early days.
Analogue ADAS Unit
Analogue systems require less initial investment than digital but are designed to get the job done all the same. By not being overly reliant on new technologies they are a highly reliable, albeit manual system, suitable for all garages. Analogue systems require pre-printed boards which are applied to the framework in front of the car to show the test pattern for calibrating the camera systems. The framework needs to be accurately positioned to ensure the pattern on the board is properly aligned to the car, which can be time-consuming. Once set up, the diagnostic tool then communicates with the vehicle’s computers, putting them into calibration mode and effectively teaching the vehicle where it should be looking.
With so many different vehicle marques in the UK, many with their own design of calibration boards, purchasing and storing these boards and protecting them from damage can be an expensive challenge associated with analogue systems.
Digital ADAS System
The digital system does away with the need for physical boards, reproducing the image of a pattern board on a large-scale high-definition monitor. A PC manages the images and communicates with a handheld diagnostic tool which, step by step, guides the user through the process to check and re-align the cameras.
Because the patterns are created digitally, they make setting up and calibrating easier and faster than the analogue counterpart. The frame can be raised or lowered at the press of a button to reach the perfect height and no manual measurement is required. Laser measurement units accurately show the exact frame to axle distance and the system uses these figures to ensure the vehicle sees a perfectly aligned image, even if the frame has not been set exactly true with the vehicle.
Which system works best is a matter of personal choice and circumstance but if you’re considering extending your garage services, you should consider ADAS alignment. These systems have been in use in vehicles for many years now and there’s a real opportunity for independent garages outside of franchised dealerships.
There is no denying that the automotive industry as we know it is changing – developments in technology, fewer passenger cars on the roads due to flexible working, and now, the highest-ever total of van registrations in the month of April since records began.
A grand total of 30,440 vans were registered in April 2021 (23.2% up on the 5-year average), taking the sector back to the same levels of registration as they were in 2019, before the pandemic was announced. The huge uptake of vans supports the growth of the LCV sector, showing signs that business owners are more optimistic and confident in the current and future economic situation.
There is a feeling amongst the industry that many garages are ill-equipped to deal with LCV’s, including tyre fitting, bodywork and specialist internal work.
A change in direction for garage owners?
For many garage owners, it’s difficult to consider change, which could lead to an uncertain future for their business. With so many new areas of servicing to consider, it can be difficult to prioritise one over the other.
The demand for light commercial vehicle servicing is clear. With even more vans on the roads, a focus on LCV repair and maintenance could lead some garages down the road to commercial success with light commercial vehicle services. The next step for any business owner brave enough is to ensure their team are fully equipped with the tools and knowledge they need to succeed, including investing in specialist equipment and signing up to CPD training.
Take a leap, choose the right LCV equipment for your services...
Over the years, our range has continued to develop into one of the most comprehensive offerings available in the UK market. In fact, Hofmann Megaplan have one of the largest choices of alignment and balancing products the industry has to offer.
Last year, the company invested in a further 20,000sqft of warehousing to be able to accommodate an expansion of the range; an expansion that saw several new wheel alignment products added and an increase in the availability of the product that cemented our popularity across the industry and is still to this day our best-selling line – wheel balancers.
One of the most significant introductions in 2020 was the new Logik 6 CCD wheel aligner, which can work on a 2-post lift or short platform scissor lift; a feature that has opened up the opportunity of wheel alignment to a whole new market.
A word from the VP...
Hofmann Megaplan’s Head of Product Development & Vice President of ISN Europe, James Boon commented...
“Many customers simply don’t have room for a 4-post lift or large scissor lift, or the ability to carry out alignment on a 2-post lift; but thanks to significant software and hardware developments, we can now offer 2 post alignment making this a real game changer especially for smaller garages”.
All of Hofmann Megaplan's alignment equipment is managed by 5 dedicated geometry experts, further supported by another 55 regional technicians across the UK handling the full range of product including tyre equipment, lifts, MOT and diagnostic products.
Focusing on the right balance
Despite a huge emphasis on alignment in recent years, Hofmann Megaplan continues to focus heavily on wheel balancers, where an enviable history has seen us become a clear market leader.
By far the most popular is the megaspin 420, which is a high-performance balancer offering the fastest floor-to-floor balancing time in the industry. This is achieved through the patented OWB (One Weight Balance) software, whereby the balancer can achieve both a static and dynamic balance with the application of just one single weight. To speed up the balancing process even further, the megaspin 420 has a ‘No Check Spin’ function, so the traditional zero/zero check spin simply isn’t required.
ADAS has become a bit of Buzz word in the motor industry recently but, in reality, we’ve all been living with various forms of it for many years.
From Anti-lock braking (ABS) and electronic stability programs (ESP) to adaptive cruise control using radar technology, our vehicles have been silently assisting us to enjoy a safer driving experience for years.
So, what’s new about ADAS then?
ADAS Technology in 2021...
ADAS is not new, it’s the way it’s been integrated with other systems in vehicles to take safety and comfort for drivers and other road users to another level that’s the interesting part.
Building on the technology that has been stealthily increasing in our vehicles, ADAS is now able to bring together those systems to allow the car to warn the driver or even take control of braking and steering systems, intervening when a driver has not responded to a perceived danger.
Camera systems often mounted in the windscreen can read road signs and alert the driver to changing speed limits. They also monitor the white lines that make up the road lanes to warn or even help correct a car’s course if the driver strays out of the lane.
With camera technology taking care of the short to medium range activities, it’s down to the radar system to take the longer view. The radar unit is often mounted in the front grill area and uses its long-range abilities to manage active cruise control (by matching the speed of cars ahead) and emergency braking systems (by recognising pedestrians and vehicles which may be in the cars path). Once detected the system can alert the driver to the potential danger ahead, reduce the speed, or even stop the car in emergency situations.
Rear radar systems work in tandem with rear view cameras and parking sensors to warn of vehicles or objects that are about to cross your path when reversing. Often out of view of the driver, the reversing camera and even the parking sensors, the long reach of the radar can stretch the driver’s awareness area warning of these potential dangers.
How critical is performing maintenance on ADAS Systems?
With so much good built into these ADAS systems, giving us the possibility to reduce accidents and save lives, it’s crucial to ensure they are working effectively. And for the systems to work correctly, they need to be accurately aligned to the path of the vehicle.
We all accept that wheel alignment is just a normal part of repairing and maintaining vehicles – if left unchecked and the geometry falls out of tolerance, the car may not drive correctly, and the tyres might wear out quickly.
The same principle applies to ADAS, if you make a change to the car that affects the angle the car presents whilst travelling, it’s possible that certain areas of the driver’s view may not be covered by the system’s camera and radar, potentially missing out on vital information. Conversely, a misaligned system could pick up dangers and react to them when they are not in the cars path. Windscreen replacement is another area to be considered; if the camera was removed as part of the process, ensuring the camera is correctly aligned after repair is vital.
After any repair that could affect the alignment (or view) of these systems, it’s important to ensure they are working correctly and that they are correctly aligned. For this you need an ADAS alignment rig; typically made up of a large frame and a diagnostic tool, this equipment allows the user to test and, if necessary, re-align the camera and radar systems.
The right ADAS Calibration machine for your services...
There are a number of ADAS alignment rigs on the market today and these are split into two main categories: Analogue and Digital.
Analogue systems require pre-printed boards which are applied to a framework in front of the car to show the specific test pattern for calibrating the camera systems for that car. The framework needs to be very accurately positioned to ensure the pattern on the board is suitably aligned to the car; an often time-consuming process requiring care and attention to get right. Once set up, the diagnostic tool then communicates with the vehicle’s computers, putting them into calibration mode and effectively teaching the vehicle where it should be looking.
With so many different vehicle marques in the UK, many with their own design of calibration boards, purchasing and storing these boards and protecting them from damage can be an expensive challenge associated with analogue systems.
The digital system does away with the need for physical boards and utilises keystone technology to reproduce the image of a pattern board on a large-scale high-definition monitor. A PC mounted to the monitor stand manages the images and communicates with a handheld diagnostic tool which guides the user through the process, step by step, to check and if necessary, re-align the cameras.
This keystone technology helps to reduce set up time, quickly building confidence in the user through simplicity of operation, but the system has another trick up its sleeve. Some vehicle manufacturers employ multi-stage camera calibration processes where the system needs to see the alignment pattern at multiple distances from the vehicle. No problem for the Digital system; it simply shrinks the image shown on the screen to allow the second or third calibration points to be taken without even moving the frame. With radar alignments being carried out with the same ease using the same accurate laser measurement process combined with a mirror on the frame to give the positional feedback to the vehicle, Digital ADAS alignment equipment is the real deal.
Who should be in the market for ADAS alignment?
Anyone who’s serious about providing garage services.
You would be hard pushed to find a car being built today that didn’t have some sort of ADAS system and considering that these systems have been in use in vehicles for many years now, looking after them falls squarely into the remit of garages outside of franchised dealerships.
ADAS alignment was once perceived as a bit of a dark art, only for specialists. But with the simplification of the processes brought about through digital alignment systems, the process is set to become as common place as checking wheel alignment.