Local governments looking at paperless methods of enforcing fleet policy – Chevin

CHEVIN Fleet Solutions, whose fleet management technologies are used in 120 countries, is seeing local governments move at pace to paperless methods of enforcing their fleet policies.

It makes sense, according to Chevin Fleet Solution general manager Ken Goldberg, as local governments aim to reduce the volume and cost of resources devoted to administration – and there are upsides for workplace health and safety compliance. 

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Maserati feels right at home in Melbourne CBD

THE move by Zagame Automotive to open an all-new $15 million Maserati dealership, right in the heart of Melbourne, late last year is paying off.

Surging demand for the legendary Italian car maker’s products, which saw Victorian sales increase by 166 percent in 2014, according the official VFACTS figures, are accelerating into 2015.

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Driving business with a difference: Apelino

ABOUT 60 years ago, the promotional slogan for a cute Italian three-wheel service vehicle translated as ‘Ape, the vehicle that helps you to make money’.

The Australian company bringing these iconic vehicles into the country for the first time and modifying them for local conditions, Apelino Pty Ltd, believes that motto will soon hold true for a great many Australian businesses. 

The manufacturer of the Ape – as it is popularly known in Europe, pronounced ah-peh and meaning ‘bee’ in Italian – Piaggio, is probably best known for its Vespa scooters. Vespa is Italian for ‘wasp’. Like the Vespa, the Ape is said to be named after the buzzing sound of its engine.

The Piaggio Ape is being adapted for some highly innovative Australian service companies by Apelino Pty Ltd, with local manufacturing and design for the vehicle’s plethora of rear service hatches and canopies, according to executive director Wolfgang Roffmann.

He said for the last 60 years, the Ape has probably been the world’s most versatile commercial vehicle.

“Its three wheels have plied the world’s roads since the end of the Second World War, carrying all sorts of cargo,” Mr Roffmann said.

“One thing is for sure, wherever the Ape is spotted it will attract attention.

“The Ape represents one of the most significant chapters in the history of urban mobility and commercial transport. A one of a kind vehicle and unmistakable silhouette it has become a transport icon. The Ape is a part of Italian history.”

Originally used for transporting goods to local businesses through the narrow streets of Italian cities, using the Piaggio Ape as a mobile retail site followed shortly after. 

Mr Roffmann said in recent decades, using the Ape as a retail unit has had a renaissance in other countries in Europe, particularly Germany and the UK.

“The Ape 50 attracts attention wherever it is spotted,” he said.

Powered by a 50cc two-stroke engine with a four-speed gear box, in its latest version, it has a top speed of about 40kmh

“The performance is suited to the job, with good torque for hills, but a low top speed,” Mr Roffmann said.

“The rear loading area is a large flat 120x120cm, which gives space for a number of possible setups, such as coffee machines, juice bar, hot dog stand or even a pizza oven.”

It has taken Apelino almost two years from the time a decision was made to bring them to Australia, to make it a reality.

Mr Roffmann conceived the plan to bring the Piaggio Ape to Australia, after being told that was near impossible to do, because of the stringent Australian Design Rules and associated compliance.

Just a few months ago, Apelino received approval by the Federal Department of Infrastructure for compliance with Australian Design Rules and the right to add identification plates, permitting the Apes to be registered for road use across Australia.

“The compliance approval has been a very long and often frustrating exercise and there was a lot to be learned,” Mr Roffmann said.

Piaggio Commercial Vehicles in Pontedera worked together with Apelino to make this happen. The conversion to retail units and all associated compliance modifications are done in Australia.

Apelino, based in Brisbane, has ordered its first shipment from Italy, with eight units expected to arrive at the end of September.

Four of the eight units were almost immediately committed, with one each going to Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia and Queensland, but by the time the vehicles landed last month they had all been sold. The next shipment is expected to arrive in mid November 2014.

Public markets, food service and special events are expected to be Apelino’s main markets.

Video of the Ape driven by an Apelino Pty Ltd staffer can be viewed at:



Jayco introduces new hi-tech caravan suspension

AUSTRALIAN specialist caravan designer and manufacturer, Jayco has introduced its new,  purpose-designed JTECH Suspension across its range of recreational vehicles.

“Following an extensive two-year test (at the Australian Automotive Research Centre), JTECH Suspension has been custom-designed to complement the Jayco Endurance Chassis,” said Jayco national sales manager, Shane Holloway. 

“JTECH Suspension replaces beam axles with individual stub axles. This enables each wheel to react independently to the road surface, while also lessening the chassis’ unsprung weight,” Mr Holloway said.

“This delivers greater stability, a smoother ride and predictable handling. We’ve increased ground clearance without increasing ride height, and the result is easier and safer towing than ever before.”

The new suspension raises the bar in the sector, in tune with Jayco’s latest Euro styling approach to the range.

“It’s not just about good looks and all the creature comforts,” Mr Holloway said. “At Jayco, we are committed to providing an ever-improving standard of smoother and safer driving.

The JTECH Suspension helps promote enhanced stability under tow because the wheels react independently of each other over uneven ground. The result, Mr Holloway said, was smoother handling due to optimised coil springs and shock absorbers, increased centre ground clearance because there is no solid beam axle, and easier towing due to a more smooth, stable and predictable ride. 

“In addition, JTECH Suspension is electro-coated (E-coat),” Mr Holloway said.

“This provides high corrosion and chip-resistant protection that’s unique to Jayco’s entire range of recreational vehicles.”

Mr Holloway said he expected the new suspension would further enhance Jayco’s reputation for reliability and help maintain its lead position in the sector as an Australian manufacturer that is able to provides national support around the clock.


Auto suppliers share $4.3 million to help enter new markets

SEVEN Australian automotive supply chain firms will receive a total of $4.3 million to diversify their products and customer bases through the Automotive New Markets Program’s (ANMP) third round of funding.

They have nominated to use the funding to develop new markets in the cycling, aerospace, defence, packaging and petrochemical industries.

The $42 million ANMP is a joint initiative of the Federal, Victorian and South Australian Governments to help automotive component producers win work in non-automotive markets domestically and internationally.

“These ANMP funded projects display the leading edge manufacturing capabilities of our local automotive supply chain firms,” Federal Minister for Industry, Ian Macfarlane, said.

“These grants will help automotive firms remain viable by diversifying into non-automotive markets and ensure that vital manufacturing capabilities remain in Australia.” 

Mr Macfarlane said projects to be funded included manufacturing cycling training simulators; casting metal components for the aerospace and defence industries; transforming production lines to producing new packaging products for the food and medical/pharmaceutical industries; and producing emergency pipe repair clamps for the oil and gas industries.

Victorian Minister for Manufacturing David Hodgett said local automotive companies have valuable skills which have been developed over many years, and these capabilities can be adapted to a wide range of industries. 

“The ANMP provides the much needed support for companies to innovate and diversify their products away from the automotive industry and into new sectors,” Mr Hodgett said.

South Australian Minister for Automotive Transformation Tom Koutsantonis said, “These ANMP projects show that South Australian automotive firms are determined to adapt in changing times to ensure that SA continues to have an advanced manufacturing industry.

“Our recipients are committed to maintaining their manufacturing capabilities and the ANMP provides crucial support to allow them to diversify and develop new products for new customers.”

Automotive New Markets Program Round 3 Successful Applicants:

Grant recipient

Project title/description

Grant amount (ex GST)

Australian Precision Technologies Pty Ltd

Project Matchrider:  Global manufacturing and assembly line for “Matchrider” Pro Cyclist training simulator.



L&L Products Australia Pty

Development and manufacture of nonwoven textiles for engine compartment insulations and heating ventilation and air conditioning insulations.



AW Bell Pty Ltd

Sales of defence and aerospace grade investment cast components.



Blown Plastics Pty Ltd

Local packaging hub for Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), e.g. soft drinks and toiletries.



Sneddon & Kingston Plastics

Transformation of automotive production lines to plastic food container production lines.




Precise Global

Development and manufacture of hot stamp dies for the automotive industry and emergency pipe repair clamps for the oil and gas industries.



Adelaide Tooling Pty Ltd

Design and validation of a range of electrical enclosures for the oil and gas industries.







POSTED MAY 25, 2014.

Australia's automotive industry is too important to be left to chance - Victorian Employers' Chamber

THE economic and wider business and social impact of the automotive industry is too important to be left to chance, the Victorian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) has warned.  

According to VECCI chief executive Mark Stone, the significance of the automotive industry to the Australian economy and jobs is too vital to risk.

While Ford has kept to its decision to end manufacturing in Australia in 2016, Holden announced this week that it would cease manufacturing utes in Australia from 2015 and has called for support from the Federal Government in order to secure long-term manufacturing in Australia.

“The fact that the automotive industry is the largest single manufacturing segment in Australia is a compelling reason why governments at all levels must take seriously the task of working with the sector to secure sustainable improvements in competitiveness," Mr Stone said.

“At stake is the exporting of vehicles and components worth almost $4 billion per annum, over 50,000 direct and indirect jobs, many of which are in Victoria, along with significant contributions to skills development, technology and innovation.

“Automotive industry research and development expenditure alone totals almost $700 million per annum.

“Policy-makers cannot stand idly by at a time when the sector continues to struggle against the forces of a high Australian dollar, high fuel prices and strong competition from low cost producers.”

Mr Stone said leading automotive companies like Toyota are doing what they can to cut costs and boost productivity, but they need the right signals and support from policy makers, just as many of their overseas competitors receive from their governments.

“With the right industry and economic policies in place, industry prospects can be strengthened as our producers respond to international challenges by leveraging their strengths in design, engineering and the production of fuel efficient vehicles,” Mr Stone said.

”There is no silver bullet or quick fix for improving automotive industry competitiveness.

“A blend of integrated and strategic reforms have the greatest prospect of securing a more sustainable and competitive footing for the industry.

“These range from cuts to red tape and lower business taxes, to renewed support for research and development, improved access to capital, and securing reciprocal reductions in tariffs and non-tariff barriers among our major trading partners.

“Of particular importance is the need for government support to help automotive producers vary existing enterprise agreements so they can modernise their work practices, lower costs and improve productivity.”



Smart grid pioneer warns Australia must prepare better for electric vehicles

QUEENSLAND-BASED international electrical switchgear innovator, NOJA Power has warned that Australia is already falling short in meeting the impending needs of the rapidly developing electric vehicle industry.

Power grids will have to smarten up as electric vehicles and programs like GE's Better Place (pictured) become popular.


NOJA Power is highlighting the need to introduce smart grid technologies to keep ahead of the electric vehicle industry that may otherwise require expensive mitigation later.

According to the latest research by NOJA - in its report Using the smart grid to mitigate the impact of electric vehicles on future electricity demand - electric vehicle recharging will place additional load on an electricity distribution grid that is already struggling to meet peak demands. The NOJA research claims investing in smart grid technologies now will improve the flexibility of the electricity distribution network and ease the connection of diversified, renewable energy resources, helping utilities meet the future demand from electric vehicles (EVs).

In the four years since 2008, 27,000 EVs have been sold in the US, and since 2009, 29,000 in Japan and 27,800 in China. These fleets include popular cars such as the Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S and Mitsubishi i-MiEV.

EV fleets will continue to grow as range increases and prices fall, NOJA Power is predicting. In 2011 US President Barack Obama announced an ambitious goal of putting one million EVs on US roads by 2015.

The UK is aiming for 1.7 million EVs by 2020 to meet its carbon emission-reduction targets, and industry experts predict one million EVs on Australian highways by 2022.

In 2010, Australian utilities generated 227 TWh of electricity, or around 622 GWh per day, according to the NOJA report. It estimates one million EVs would require about an additional 5 percent on top of this daily total to recharge batteries.

NOJA managing director Neil O'Sullivan said the Australian grid has very little spare capacity at times of peak demand, such as hot summer days, when consumers flock to air conditioning.

"I can picture a scenario where, on a hot day in Queensland, in the near future a shopping centre car park is hosting one thousand EVs all looking for a quick recharge before returning home," Mr O'Sullivan said.

"Commercial charging points are likely to offer 415 volt/32 amp three-phase power allowing each EV to receive up to 13.2 kilowatts. That's 13.2 megawatts just for that one car park. And those vehicles could be taking power for perhaps an hour or two.

"There are three million vehicles in Queensland. If, for example, in the near future, 10 percent of those are EVs and a quarter of those EVs are simultaneously being quick charged across the state, the utilities could see nearly 1000 megawatts of additional demand," Mr O'Sullivan said.

 "The peak demand seen in Queensland is around 8900 megawatts, so an additional 1000 megawatts is easily enough to tip the grid over the edge if it occurs at the wrong time. To avoid this scenario, efforts should be made to enhance the network's capability by investing in smart grid technologies."

Smart grids are a more intelligent way of supplying electricity combining computerisation, digital communications, sensing and metering of the electricity network to create a bidirectional, interactive grid that encourages greater use of renewable energy sources, Mr O'Sullivan said.

Smart grids equipped with automatic circuit reclosers (ACRs) allow the connection of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, wave and tidal. A large installed base of renewable energy sources would be needed to ensure that EVs deliver on their promise of carbon-free motoring.

"ACRs are fundamental building blocks for smart grids," Mr O'Sullivan said. "The ability of reclosers to help utilities closely match supply and demand, rapidly switch in renewable energy sources and protect the grid is essential if the future additional demand from EVs is to be met."

Mr O'Sullivan said units from NOJA Power's OSM range of medium-voltage (15, 27 and 38 kV) ACRs have been installed by utilities in over 80 countries around the world. The ACRs have been subjected to full type testing by independent test laboratories, such as KEMA in the Netherlands, to the latest standards.

NOJA Power's ACRs also use solid dielectrics, replacing the environmentally unfriendly oil or sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) gas of older products, Mr O'Sullivan said.



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