autotechnician hits the road with the Workshop Solutions van with Ring Automotive’s Alan Povey to learn about some of the technical issues he’s addressing on the move.
Alan Povey started out on the tools, before moving into automotive retail, customer support and technical roles for major automotive parts suppliers. Now Technical Manager at Ring Automotive, he enthusiastically shares practical advice with technicians and workshop owners across the UK and Ireland from the Workshop Solutions Van. From his kitted-out van, an Aladdin’s cave for visitors, he details the broad range of OSRAM and Ring products with his audience, providing demonstrations and technical advice to help workshops save time, money and hassle.
autotechnician met up with Alan at the Broadstairs branch of their Jayar distributors on a bright Spring morning and
went along to their first stop of the day at Ash Automotive in St Peter’s. Owner John is a self-proclaimed petrol head who began helping out in his dad’s workshop from a young age and went on to work for TVR. He takes on all makes and models but his passion lays with classic vehicles. Chatting with Alan in the van parked up outside is a welcome break out of his busy morning as he discovers its range of dash cams, battery support units and smart chargers, EV cables, inspection lamps, light bars, and vehicle sanitisers. He admits he had not realised the breadth of products available from OSRAM and Ring.
People can buy directly from the van, but many sales happen back at the local distributor, after they ‘try before they buy.’ Alan provides an overview of the products and spends the majority of his time talking about technical issues arising from changing technology, passing on practical, product and business advice that can benefit both themselves and their customers.
“How we deal with batteries has changed dramatically from a basic analogue charger. You can’t use that on an AGM or EFBs,”Alan says, when we ask him to overview the types of products potential customers are asking after. “Well, that’s not entirely right, you can use them, but you’re going to damage the battery. Everything’s moving down the smart charger route. We showcase our new 12/24V SmartCharge Pro unit [that recharges with variable rates of 5, 10, 20 and 30 amps and can also supply 30A continuous charge for battery support functions]. The range will develop this year to the 100/120-amp units, where you’re doing major diagnostics and remapping. Jump packs are now getting lighter, which makes it easier for the garage to haul around rather than a big heavy unit, but we’re also showcasing the rest of the products we do like our multimeter, our battery tester, and showing them how these work. They’re not just testing the battery when it needs it, they’re doing it as each car comes in… The heartbeat of the engine is the battery. They can print out the results too, so they explain what’s going on with the car.
“Most people are under the illusion they can carry on doing short distances, particularly with AGM, EFB batteries. They’ll lose something like 3% of their charge a week just stood still. People get in their car and realise the Stop-Start doesn’t work, or the mirrors, or windows… It’s important from the garage’s point of view that they can test the customer’s car, they can give them advice, and if need be, fit a charger, hard wire it in for them. You’ve got batteries in the boot now rather than under the bonnet – most people wouldn’t know where to locate
the battery, let alone how to couple it up. So, the garage can take all that aggravation away from the customer, they can give them advice. AGM and EFB batteries can be anywhere between £100 or £200 pounds. I know there’s an Audi one, that’s around £700… If the garage can help that customer protect that battery, they’re actually saving them money. It’s good, professional workmanship that we want in the industry.”
Simple oversight can result in major cost
A chap from a local garage steps into the van and the discussion turns to the issue of burnout on headlights, a situation where incorrect fitment leads to a needless expense for the motorist and ultimately, a cost in reputation for the workshop.
“There’s a big plastic cowling and you’ve got to lock it in, if you don’t, the earth shorts out. They melt and then eventually the bulb itself will blow and you’ve got to replace the whole unit, which could be a couple of hundred quid. You can’t just replace the bulb anymore and it’s purely and simply that whoever is installing them has not made sure it’s actually keyed in properly. They go to the first where it’s a bit tight and they won’t tighten it anymore because they think they’re forcing it but it actually locks into a key way.
“It’s one of those things where “I know how to fit a light bulb!” But the system has changed. It’s not just about now fitting the light bulb, it’s making sure that it’s fitted properly. Its important garages understand and we’re giving them the information but also the end users understand too. The days of the DIY guy fitting his own light bulbs is over. It’s a bit precarious at the best of times.”
If you are a garage owner or Ring/OSRAM customer interested in the Ring and OSRAM Workshop Solutions Van visiting your site, contact your local Area Sales Manager.