The recent Automechanika Johannesburg trade fair for the automotive aftermarket, organised by Messe Frankfurt South Africa and staged at Expo Centre, Nasrec, from September 18-21, provided an excellent blend of product displays, activations, a focus on training and a strong "Buy South African" component.
This was the sixth time that the world-renowned Automechanika trade fair has taken place in Johannesburg. This year it was co-located with the Futuroad truck and bus show and Scalex logistics expo for the second time. Once again, this event proved the place to be for all those in Southern Africa involved in the transport, logistics and aftermarket sectors.
There were in excess of 600 exhibitors from 28 countries spread over more than 18 000 m2 of exhibition space in four halls (up from three halls in 2015) with various displays and truck test driving in the spacious outdoor areas.
There were many companies that were first time exhibitors at this show as well as many new products being launched on the various stands or in the special demonstration and activation zones.
One of the newcomers to Automechanika Johannesburg that successfully used the event as a launch platform to herald its arrival in South Africa was Partscheck. This is a service provider to the bodyshop repair business which was founded in Australia 10 years ago and subsequently extended its operations to Malaysia. Partscheck benefits both repairers and suppliers by providing an online solution to connect with suppliers to streamline the internal parts sourcing process thereby saving time, increasing productively and profitability.
Malan Smal, who has been involved in this business through the insurance arm for more than 30 years and has been working on introducing Partscheck to South Africa for several months, said that he was very pleased with the quality of visitors they had to the display stand and many leads were generated. "Automechanika Johannesburg was the ideal launch pad for our new venture," said Smal.
Besides the many product and service provider stands there were a host of business-to-business meetings, conferences and workshops held during the four-day show period. Prior to the show, the organisers also undertook an extensive roadshow programme in Sub-Saharan Africa to promote the event and attract visitors from the SADEC region.
Many industry associations, organisations and companies used the show period to stage important conferences. A total of 12 of these events were staged, covering a multitude of topics.
One such event was hosted (CRA) which attracted a full house of 160 delegates for its morning breakfast and conference.
Speakers included the well-travelled Andrew Marsh of Auto Industry Consulting in the United Kingdom, who explained the big challenges facing the body repair industry when working on cars with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) which incorporate a host of sensors ant have to be perfectly aligned. Busi Maile, of the C3 Auto Body Repair Academy in Bloemfontein gave the delegates important things to consider when she talked ab out the question of artisans and whether they were still needed and if "artisan" was still the right name for this calling.
Maile put the case that these types of employees now need to be multi-skilled and multi-functional to cope with automation and the 4th Industrial Revolution. She said they need to be adaptable, analytical thinkers, problem-solvers, proactive, team players and self-driven with strong inter-personal communication skills. They also need to be knowledgeable about all aspects of the processes in which they work, according to this experienced trainer.
Other conferences that also took place was that of the Fuel Retailers Association, RMI Skills conference, RFA Operations conference, ERA/SADFIA/MIWA conference, and the SABOA Bus Indaba to name a few.
The organising team from Messe Frankfurt structured an excellent and very comprehensive skills development programme for the automotive industry for three of the four show days, with six topics being handled each day, ranging from automotive batteries and powertrain technologies to a demonstration of how a diesel fuel injector functions and the advancement of the turbocharger.
The speakers were well qualified and included several from overseas, such as Vincent Valette, from France (Innovation in drive systems for future scenarios); Santiago Malabran, from Italy (Digital ADAS solutions); Roberto Dal Corso, from Switzerland (Accelerate the automotive aftermarket adventure) and Nolan Smith, from Germany (Machine learning and artificial intelligence in transport planning).
As part of the focus to support local businesses, the ABSA Enterprise Development Den initiative took place at Automechanika and saw 3 locally owned SMEs win up to R200,000 to support their business as well as business mentorship programmes sponsored by ABSA bank.
In addition, the judging for the South African leg of the Body and Paint Championships took place during the event and saw Etienne duToit taking first prize with his "big five" design on the bonnet of a car. He will be heading to Automechanika Frankfurt 2020 to represent South Africa in the finals. Another exciting competition that took place was the Tyre Changing Competition sponsored by the Tyre Dealers' and Fitment Centre Association (TDAFA). Competitors raced against the clock to show speed, accuracy and detail when changing a tyre. The winning time was 1 minute, 58 seconds.
"We focussed on making a visit to Automechanika Johannesburg 2019 a fully-rounded experience, with a wide selection of exhibitors as well as offering extensive training and interactive opportunities," explained Joshua Low, Managing Director of Messe Frankfurt South Africa. "We were very pleased that exhibitors seemed satisfied with the quality of visitors we attracted to our biennial trade fair and the networking it offered."