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Event: ZF [pro]Tech Plus Member Conference 2019

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ZF Aftermarket’s Technical Team gathered at Williams Grand Prix Engineering facility in Oxford last month to update its [pro]Tech plus members on additional benefits to the network and to gain feedback from them, to ensure it is providing the right support for the challenges they experience now and will soon face with emerging technologies. It was also a chance to network with other garages and have some fun, taking in the impressive exhibits and experiencing life as an F1 driver and being part of a pit stop team. 

Technical Sales Manager Matt Shakespeare kicked off proceedings, introducing Training Manager Wayne McCluskey and his team, who look after the members across the UK. “We’ll gain your feedback this morning so we can understand what you want from us. We have some huge changes coming in terms of technology and we need to try and prepare you for it,” explains Wayne. “We need to give you information, access to the data you need… We’ve got some highly qualified engineers in the aftermarket team. Its been necessary for all of us to up-skill over the years. I’ve just finished an engineering degree, so even an old guy like me needs to keep pushing the boundaries and keep pushing forward. We’d like to help you on that journey. The route we have chosen is through [pro]Tech plus to help support you through these changes.” 

Benefits for the network include a dedicated field sales technician with around four site visits each year and access to a Technical Support Engineer if you need practical help within your workshop. Members are provided with training, installation instructions and manuals, plus a technical hotline. Perhaps the cherry on the cake is access to OEM service campaigns, which contains valuable repair information. 

BEING FIT FOR THE FUTURE

Matt Shakespeare discussed how its training would help independent workshops be fit for the future. As legislation drives down emissions and we head towards a zero-carbon future, hybrid and electric vehicles will play a significant role in this. ZF is already taking workshops on this journey with its High Voltage Expert training and has recently added an ‘Introduction to Electrical Engineering’ two-day course, which takes in all aspects of the basics of electricity. Matt explains how we are moving from passive safety systems to collision avoidance and ADAS, training for this will be available next year. These systems will eventually enable completely autonomous driving. ZF is considered as one of the trailblazers involved in future mobility, so it makes good business sense to partner with them and continue to access the information, parts and knowledge needed to repair vehicles now and into the future. 

ON THE HORIZON

• ZF’s German colleague Markus Schmitt, who is responsible for garage concepts, described how a network of transmission specialists have been created in areas in Germany which has proved successful and how they are looking to do this in the UK. 

• Its [pro]Points loyalty scheme is being upgraded. Customers collect labels from product packages and exchange for bonus points, which can then be used for various gifts. ZF is in the process of setting up QR codes on the labels to make the process easier. 

• A ZF 9HP Transmission course (applications include Range Rover Evoque, Honda CR-V, Fiat 500X & Jaguar E-Pace) will be available later this year. 

MEMBER FEEDBACK

We meet John O’ Sullivan of Promotive – a large independent BMW & MINI specialist in Newport who is new to the [pro]Tech network but has already sent a couple of technicians to Crick for some training, which he reports is very good. I also speak with David and Karen of G&H & Commercial in Caernarfon who are booking their staff onto ZF’s hybrid and clutch training, and clearly have a passion for their business and keen to stay on top of changing technology – traits that are clearly shared with the rest of the garages in the network. 

Support from ZF as a [pro]Tech plus garage: 

  • Online ZF technician information and technical bulletins
  • Access to online WebCat product information and installation instructions
  • ZF Technical Support Hotline
  • On-site sales development training
  • Request support of ZF Technical Support Engineer for on-site visits
  • ZF Technical Sales Team regular booked site visits
  • A dedicated [pro]Tech Garage Scheme Developer
  • Personal training programme for technicians. 

Autotechnician’s Paul Dearing got hands-on during the afternoon session, challenging his dexterity alongside the [pro]Tech plus garage owners during the ‘Williams Experience’. Over to Paul… 

“After the mornings presentations we went off for a brief lunch and caught a glimpse of Claire Williams, deputy team principal of the Williams Formula One racing team, then it was off for a fun-packed afternoon taking part in the F1 Williams Experience. 

“We were split into four teams and had to pick a Team Principal, who better than ZF’s Technical Training Manager Wayne McClusky. We would experience a real race scenario, half the distance of Silverstone. Firstly, we were given a race strategy, then had to answer five questions, the results of which would go toward the final score. We then set off to practice to determine who was best suited to what position within the team – whether it was in the pit stop, driving, changing the tyres… I was the nearside, left wheel on man. What an adrenaline rush when you are being timed, our wheel team managed four seconds, which was pretty good apparently. Then it was off to the reaction pads, which you get in the
gym and arcades. The best of us were hitting about 45 in a 30 second time slot – apparently, a Formula One driver will hit 70 plus, how, I don’t know! 

“Then we headed to the F1 simulators to try our hand at the track…. not easy at all. Once practice was over it was race time, which included three drivers and two pit stops. Race on! Once we had finished, we all gathered for the results. It was a close call but well done to Team 2 for being top on the podium. 

“What a great afternoon, amongst good company. Well done ZF and the Williams team.” 

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