The world wide web has replaced car row as the place to shop for a vehicle. The consolidation of brick and mortar facilities may have been accelerated by a shrinking economy and government dictates; however, the writing has been on the virtual wall for some time. Technology has always served as the catalyst for change and the Internet has proven to be the platform to introduce the next evolution of the auto industry.The world wide web has matured as an efficient information resource to replace the real world auto dealership as the place of choice for car shoppers to gather the information they need to select a vehicle and a dealership — in that order! Internet based social networking is the virtual version of a Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club, Community Event, Fraternity, etc., linked together by a technology that serves as a central communication and distribution tool.The importance of relationship based selling in the real world is supported in every sales training manual based on the observation that people like to do business with people that they like. The logic to Sell yourself, sell the dealership, sell the vehicle and then justify the price is an accepted wisdom that is based on the one constant that has survived in both the real world and the world wide web — Human Nature! Internet based social networks represent an online community of like-minded consumers who have a strong influence on their online friends. Auto dealers must invest and involve in these online communities as people not as an auto dealer.They must prioritize the interests of their new online friends before, during and after their buying cycle to earn their trust and consideration when they have a need for a new vehicle or to service their present one. After all, what are friends for!Once a need has surfaced it is critical that the transition from casual conversations to focused selling processes is transparent and comprehensive to move the consumer seamlessly through their online shopping experience. Technology can communicate the information needed by both the consumer and the dealer to move forward into a transaction. However, the processes must build on the personality and relationship built on the social networking site that surfaced the opportunity. The unique differentiator between the dealers down the street selling the same product is not the price, but the people that started the dialogue built on an earned relationship and trust.Viral marketing is a natural extension of social networking that distributes a message in such a way that it will be forwarded by the recipient in a geometric progression enhanced by its valued content, unique creative, entertaining production or some quality that will motivate the initial consumer to share it with their spheres of influence. The exponential growth of this type of online distribution channel affords an extremely cost effective media to distribute the initial message to a diverse audience that may or may not be interested in the content, but even a small percentage of conversions represent a superior short term and quantifiable R.O.I. to conventional marketing media. The buzz created by the extended online community also develops long term branding recognition that enhances the reach and frequency of the message with less measurable results but similar value in developing top of the mind awareness for future customers.By extension, social media as it is applied for the purpose of marketing for the retail auto industry is a channel for distribution of both viral and targeted marketing messages through controlled blogging forums as well as expanded spheres of influence through online communities such as Twitter, Face book, LinkedIn, Naymz, YouTube, etc.These online social networking communities have unique profiles that attract different types of users. Twitter and Face book, for example, are more universal and personal in nature while Naymz and LinkedIn are more professional and focused on business to business networking with YouTube using video to express the message. These online communities will be part of your extended social media channel, however, more specialized networks targeted to the auto industry should be the core channels based on their applicable content, audience and related links.It should also be noted that recent market studies confirm that the efficiency defined by Twitter – in that they limit their postings to 140 words – has served to differentiate them from other sites with a superior growth curve to prove it. Conversion rates from Twitter users who access online banner ads or similar commercial messages are twice those of social networkers who do not have Twitter in their online profiles. The revelation is that many online networkers are overwhelmed by the fragmented online communities that they participate in and limited time requires them to seek out more effective ways to manage their online and real world lives.New platforms that link these diverse online communities into one central access point now exist that provide efficiencies beyond those provided by any single site. Power.Com — for example — functions as a layer or home page that represents this one stop social networking site philosophy. Newly developed marketing platforms serving the auto industry, like ronsmap.com, integrate social media with their vehicle listings with localized search engine functions — think Google Local! ronsmap is a game changing online car buying/selling site for both consumers and dealers that makes car buying fast, comprehensive, transparent and live. Their proprietary technology gives customers unparalleled buying and negotiating power over the car buying/selling processes including the opportunity to accommodate For Sale By Owner listings. It provides auto dealers with unprecedented levels of sales intelligence on consumer leads and it enables automotive advertising agencies to promote and engage consumers via social networks.The ability to offer both B2B and B2C marketing messages supported by relevant social networking forums is an efficient combination of business and pleasure that will attract today’s time challenged consumers. Of course, business opportunities must be subordinate to providing relevancy and interesting content to the end users — the car shoppers — however, the convenience of providing a locally targeted inner circle of connected real world friends through an online communication tool is an example of the leveraged and efficient resources that are emerging on the Internet. Marketing to consumers in social networking communities requires resources, tools and skill sets to compliment and supplement auto dealers existing online selling efforts and ronsmap provides all of these elements in a cost effective scalable manner while delivering market intelligence that enables the auto dealer to maximize their conversion rates and preserve gross profit in their online negotiations.Finally, many dealers have learned the value of integrating customer generated content onto their websites through blogging forums and other methods to present past and present customer experiences to potential future customers. These dealer sponsored social networking platforms are often suspect and dealers tend to filter negative comments on their own site which limits participation by customers and adversely impacts the confidence of visitors in the value of the content. A more proven platform has been for auto dealers to support third party micro-sites that distance the dealer from the online community. The site can then expand on the messages it presents to include issues of interest to potential customers. Links to community organizations and related information resources supported by the dealer do not require a sales message, which would likely alienate the online community. The value of developing relationships with the site visitors on the common ground of your shared support for the activities coordinated on the site will plant the seed that will grow when they are looking for a friend in the car business.The agenda of participants in social media and social networking does not include commercial messages as it is primarily an online platform to build relationships and share information. On the contrary, any commercial abuse of a social media site will alienate users and create negative backlash. That said, as previously stated, human nature has survived from the real world to the virtual world and people still prefer to do business with friends — real or virtual. As long as the sales message is secondary to providing valued content or is placed in the context of a relationship focused community with shared interests then the ability to develop sales is both measurable and assured.Viral marketing and social media have cost advantages over conventional media — including radio, TV, print, direct mail, etc. — as well as online investments in search engine marketing, (SEM) — such as pay per click and banner advertisements — since there is no direct costs.They are similar in their R.O.I. and value to Internet based search engine optimization, (SEO), with comparable indirect costs in that they are labor intensive. However, properly leveraged reciprocal links and automated content provided by RSS feeds from related online sources can be integrated to reduce the labor for both content and distribution enhancing the R.O.I. even after the cost of labor is considered.An additional unique value of social media is the increasing importance of relevancy and consumer generated content in consumer preference in their selection of sites as a resource for information. Improvement in conversion and bounce rates, time on page and a number of other site analytics can be directly attributed to improved relevancy and consumer content — as is provided by social media when properly integrated with a website.More significantly, is the resulting impact it is having on search engines such as Google in adjusting the algorithms that establish both page rankings and even costs associated with their pay per click programs. Also, the constantly changing messages provided by user generated content on the posting site improves its SEO. The importance of relevancy has been firmly established by both consumers and the search engines insuring that its impact on Internet use will increase as should your focus on it.A less obvious but equally valued aspect of the use of social media to extend your marketing plans is the evolution of the use of the Internet by consumers to be more of a pull/push media vs. the old world marketing logic of push/pull. The Internet has allowed consumers the freedom to gather information from a variety of online resources to avoid the sales hype and self serving messages used by advertisers in other media.The recognized preference for consumers to rely on referrals and shared personal experiences from third party sources and “friends” has been enhanced by the Internet and, more specifically, social media which has been shown to provide a stronger influence on consumers than both conventional and other methods of Internet based marketing efforts. Leveraged resources in the auto industry social networking arena provide consumers, auto dealers and vendors with the inside story on the auto industry. These site offer shared content by direct and indirect links with other established social media networks as well as specialized auto industry networking communities in consumer/dealer/consultant/vendor facing forums.It is important to note that the messages and even the portals themselves are established as open forums with minimum self serving or obviously commercial elements. Of course, the underlying purpose of many of these sites is to enhance the SEO and relevancy of the auto dealer participants and all of the contributing members. However, social media rely on relationship based communications. If a site is perceived by consumers as being self serving or commercial it will be shunned by consumers.The demand by consumers for transparency on an auto dealer’s website is coupled with the auto dealer’s need to convert these virtual customers to real world selling opportunities for vehicle sales and service. The following online processes are designed to replicate and integrate with established real world selling systems without offending the online shoppers by delivering the information that they need, when they need it — which is immediately!1) Meeting and Greeting: Meeting and greeting is step one in both the real and the virtual world. If a customer walks into a showroom he expects to either find the information he wants or to be directed to where he can find it. Conversion tools, such as Argistics AutoTransaXion and Auto Website Plus, allow a pro-active engagement with an invitation to answer a customer’s questions.AutoTransaXion links with the dealer’s DMS and CRM to integrate with established real world selling systems. More uniquely, their two way video customer interaction platform replicates the human experience” for relationship based communications. Another chat application with a unique added value is AutoWebsitePlus.Com. It replaces the video function found in AutoTransaXion with a 15 language translation application that allows an English speaking sales staff to directly communicate with Spanish, German, Italian, etc. speaking customers. Specialized R.O.I. analytics include S.E.M. and S.E.O. quantified and qualified reports to monitor and manage all of your online advertising and marketing investments that are driven to your website.Both AutoTransaXion and Auto Website Plus also offer a staffed solution to supplement — or even replace — an auto dealer’s sales or internet staff in processing internet leads sourced from the site. Justified cuts in expenses by auto dealers struggling to adjust fixed and semi-variable expenses to be in synch with reduced profit margins and sales volume has forced many dealers to reduce the efficiency of their selling processes on both their real and virtual showrooms. The ability to add a remote staff to instantly respond and process online sales and service opportunities in a consistent manner can either supplement existing staff or extend the online showroom hours to a 24/7 schedule.2) Initial T.O. + qualifying + feature/benefit presentations: AutoTransaXion and Auto Website Plus both provide a real time interaction which can be used to accommodate an initial T.O. and to initiate an interview to qualify the customer’s needs. Once their needs are determined, the application continues in a push/pull manner to present information on a variety of vehicles.3) Inventory walk and test drive: The use of videos in conjunction with embedded links to relevant information, such as Car Fax reports, combined with a list of comparable vehicles based on the customer’s needs, can replicate the consumer experience in the real world. SiSTeR Technologies Video CarLot is an automated video production service that can convert an auto dealer’s online pictures into a professional video with human voice as well as the ability to integrate existing video content into the stitched pictures provided on the dealer’s website. In addition, multiple schema layers linked to a dedicated micro-site — vShock — provides an extended marketing platform for similar inventory on the dealer’s website. This process will narrow down the inventory to a short list of possible vehicles to allow the online selling process to continue into relevant negotiations and in some cases even to an actual online transaction. This application also integrates a lead conversion form that is directly sourced back to the video posted on the dealer’s website, third party advertising sites and even on the search engines as a unique URL linked to the video posted on You Tube through a dedicated API that delivers the vehicle with integrated meta tags and search words tied to the vehicle as well as links back to the posting dealer’s website in synch with their established S.E.O. programs. (vSEO)4) Trade-in evaluation and negotiations: AutoTransaXion and Auto Website Plus push/pull capabilities include the ability to request pictures and details on a trade-in that will provide sufficient information for a dealer to establish an actual appraised value subject to confirmation at the time of delivery. Similarly, since the applications are linked with the auto dealer’s DMS, the first pencil can be delivered at the point of first contact with actual negotiations in a similar fashion to established real world selling processes.5) Online transactions and delivery: AutoTransaXion and Auto Website Plus can complete a negotiation and process all customer and vehicle information directly into an auto dealer’s DMS and CRM with the ability to push all forms needed to consummate a sale. The dealership can then deliver the vehicle along with the appropriate paperwork. The delivery can be scheduled at the dealership to avoid right of rescission rules that exist in many states. It should be noted that even if an appointment is made at the dealership the process will be greatly enhanced by the online communications that preceded it.6) Follow up for sold and un-sold units: Database marketing for sold and unsold customers has existed for many years, however, matrix based automated solutions have been extremely limited. Bulldog Marketing Technologies and their integrated Consumer Cleanse provide a custom follow up to any customer that has been entered into a dealer’s database. The messages can be delivered via email or direct mail with a personalized message drawn from the initial contact.The unique feature of Bulldog is their ability to select comparable vehicles for the ongoing consideration of unsold customers. The contact can include current price information including factory incentives, interest rates and payments to address issues that may have prevented the initial sale.In addition, Consumer Cleanse uses third party resources to determine if a customer has already purchased a vehicle — even if from a different dealership — so the message can be converted to a service offer rather than a sales message that will be ignored by the customer. Sold customers are also included in the process with service offers and customer satisfaction messages to supplement the dealer’s existing CRM functions.7) Inventory management and ongoing online marketing: It is an accepted wisdom that dealers make their money on Used Cars when they buy them, not when they sell them. Inventory management systems like AAX, vAuto, eCarList and FirstLook provide applications that use historical sales data as well as current online postings in varying ratios of relevancy to assist in the appraisal process. Extended and integrated marketing platforms also seamlessly place the newly acquired inventory onto the dealer’s website and third party advertising sites. Since time is money the faster the vehicles are placed on the virtual inventory and online marketing plan the sooner they are sold and the profit is turned into another vehicle.FirstLook has the unique ability to apply their proprietary algorithm to design the copy of the online ads for the vehicles using their Consumer Optimization process to prioritize the features and benefits for each vehicle to exactly match proven customer preferences. This automated production process increases conversion and profits from the posted ads and additional features and functionality are planned to further enhance the ads. (Can you say VIDEO!)All of the issues discussed in this article can be referenced to the key differentiator between conventional advertising/marketing and the newly maturing position being reserved for social networking. For example, customer reviews exist in most retail verticals on the World Wide Web and the auto industry is no exception. While the importance of this component of many social networking site can’t be over emphasized, it is only one bullet in the gun of auto dealer’s that are constantly expanding their investment in reputation management and branding through the use of their social networking/marketing plans.Web 2.0 has become an established buzz for today’s automotive advertising agencies but User Generated Content, (UGC), has earned a position in their vocabulary in a variety of forms. Social Media — for example — references communication technology offered in a public forum that allows users to interact and contribute shared content through a variety of tools including forums, blogs, Weblogs, networking communities, wikis and radio podcasts — like my own blog talk radio shows on AdAgencyOnline.Net.Social Marketing describes a grouping of social media tools that provide direct personal relationships with a targeted group of customers. Social Networking Sites include well recognized online communities like Face Book, Twitter, Bebo, MySpace and newly maturing centralized aggregator sites like ronsmap.com that allow people to connect with old and new online friends through personal profiles that define their shared interests in both the real and the virtual world on an individual basis as well as with groups that they have in common.The growing acceptance and recognition of these various and related facets of the new phenomenon of Social Networking is built on established business and advertising marketing principals enhanced by the new language of today’s Internet and technology driven auto industry. They all recognize the importance of relationship selling and branding to supplement and compliment — not replace — conventional calls to action and direct selling messages.The search engines are also playing a growing role in the acceptance of UGC and the importance of reputation management with the development of new tools — like Google’s Sidewiki — that provides site visitors with a text box to post their opinion of an auto dealer’s website to future visitors. They have an added self serving agenda to eventually sell this data and information to potential online advertisers since the application also tracks the user’s history on the Internet but it raises the importance and urgency of protecting auto dealer’s online reputation to a new level!Automotive advertising agencies are learning and applying the rules established by the search engines but dictated by the online consumer who ultimately is the only driver on the Internet Super Highway that matters. In summation, monetizing social networking and applying it into selling processes that blur the line between the real and the virtual world is the goal and role of today’s automotive advertising agencies.
The automotive industry is a constantly changing game when it comes to the internet. Each year manufacturers come out with brand new car models or change the current models just enough to send the aftermarket industry into a storm of scrambling to come up with new products. However with this come opportunity for bloggers and writers to have some fresh reviews and thoughts about the new cars and the accessories that come with them. One of the biggest markets in the industry is Truck Accessories which opens the market to a realm of new products each year to review and talk about.So how do you survive with an Automotive related site?The answer is to stay on top of the changing trends and market. If you are selling cars or trucks then write about them. Cover the models, do your own reviews, talk about what has changed, the good, the bad, the ugly. The same goes if you are selling insurance and car parts. Each year there is plenty of opportunity to review hundreds of thousands of new products related to the automotive industry each product giving you an opportunity to talk about it and putting a reference to your related website. If you own a blog then there are golden opportunities for fresh content everywhere in the auto industry.Selling Automotive related products online.Selling automotive products is a competitive gig. You must stay on top of the latest trends and always update your products to include the current years models. To stay competitive you must employ the techniques’ listed above and write about your products via a blog or press release. By doing this you not only create buzz but this is a golden opportunity to send people to your product page, not to mention gain some valuable links at the same time. The key is staying on top of the market and always adding the new products as they come available.To wrap it up I want to say this. The automotive industry is a booming market online. If you put the time into tapping the right resources you can be very successful in this market.
Since the last few years, Indian automobile industry has grown at a tremendous pace, and currently the Indian automotive components industry is being projected to cross over US $ 110 billion (INR 5 lakh crore) worth business by the year 2020. This figure has been zeroed in after assessing the demands of vehicles, as it is in tandem with the country’s growth of vehicle production. According to the report by the Automotive Component Manufacturers’ Association (ACMA), out of all this, the domestic turnover is likely to grow up to US $ 80 billion (INR 4 lakh crore) and the exports would make up to another US $ 29 billion (INR 1.4 lakh crore).According to that report, in the fiscal year 2010 – 2011, the turnover of auto components companies India will go beyond USD 26 billion, which is an 18 per cent rise from the previous fiscal year’s turnover, which was just USD 22 billion. Moreover, according to the ACMA-EY (Ernst & Young) Vision 2020 study, most probably, by the year 2020 India is going to witness massive growth in the vehicle production.As far as Europe is concerned, it is likely to comprise a huge 36.9 per cent of India’s automotive parts export in 2010-11, which is then followed by the Asia and North America with 28.1 and 24 percent respectively. Apart from this, the automobile industry has witnessed major changes in the automobile purchasing strategy India over the few years. According to the recent study, in the financial year 2010 – 2011 India is expected to make USD 12 billion investments in the Indian automotive components industry. And, this might result in making the auto component industry, an engine for India’s massive growth in the economic as well as manufacturing segment.Moreover, the Automotive Mission Plan (AMP) 2006 – 2016 will additionally stimulate the progress of the Indian auto components sector and can eventually transform India into an international player in the automotive industry. This plan aims to double the contribution of automobile industry in the country’s GDP and produce 25 million more jobs for people by 2016. Apart from this, there is an enormous potential and intensification opportunity in the automotive components industry and as a result various small medium enterprises which are into the manufacturing of automotive parts in India have also started to get good international exposure for their products. Moreover, out of those small and medium enterprises of automobile components and accessories, many of them have become the best auto parts supplier Chennai, Pune, Gurgaon.
Application of biometrics in the automobile industry is not recent news; it has been in use for the past few years. However, with the advent of technological developments, the automobile industry has been quite busy in experimenting with automotive biometrics. Biometrics system in vehicles provides accurate and maximum protection to every vehicle owner against hacking or theft. This technology employs multi-factor authentication. In most cases, the two-factor authentication system is implemented. Moreover, the focus is primarily placed on the accessibility of the vehicle, immobilizer, health monitoring, and switch ignition via fingerprints.The automobile industry is quite upbeat in embracing innovative technologies which are convenient and user-friendly to provide the feel of luxury to their customers. Strengthening a vehicle’s security while ensuring customers’ safety is one of the main concerns of the automakers. Automakers, especially the leading ones in the market have been incorporating automotive biometrics technology in their auto-parts. No wonder the automotive biometrics market is growing at a fast rate and the trend seems like it will stay strong in the foreseeable future.Automotive Biometrics growth driversThere are several factors influencing the growth of this market. Immobilizer may be considered to be a major growth driver boosting the market. Another trend which drives the market is the installation of connected devices required for autonomous driving. Moreover, the stringent government regulations regarding the concern for vehicles security further propel this technology market. As per the recent market research reports the Automotive End-Point Authentication Market is poised towards a major growth phase. Geographically, the Automotive Biometrics Market is divided into global regions like Europe, North America, Asia-Pacific, Middle East, LATAM, and Africa. Amongst all these regions, the European region has seen the highest growth.Know more about the Automotive End-Point Authentication MarketThe Automotive End-Point Authentication is a new technology gaining prominence in the automobile sector. It protects the user against damage and theft of their vehicles, along with a vast array of benefits such as navigation, and door lock status. The recent Automotive End-Point Authentication Market informs us about the market growth due to the robust demand for electric and hybrid vehicles. Furthermore, with the foray into smartphones, the market sees a huge growth in the requirement for assistance featured cars.Key players in the Automotive End-Point Authentication MarketSome of the major industry players in this market include companies like Continental AG, Fujitsu, Garmin Ltd., Hitachi Ltd., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Symantec Corporation, Synoptics Incorporated, and others.
Interested in finance and insurance (F&I)? Love cars? Looking for a way to merge the two into a long-lasting and fulfilling career in the automotive industry? It’s time to consider a career in auto sales and F&I management. Now is a great time to invest in F&I training, which can provide everything you need to succeed in this career. That means you will acquire excellent leadership and communication skills and have the expertise required to handle the financial and legal aspects of a sales transaction.Automotive Business Manager programs are designed to teach the skills required to oversee the financial and legal aspects of the automotive industry. Students in these automotive training programs are trained in finance and lease options, sale of after-market products and the use of specialized software.Becoming an F&I manager means you will be in the center of the action. It also means you will have a direct impact on profitability and be rewarded accordingly. Need another reason to invest in F&I manager? Job Futures 2000 predicts that more than one-third of all jobs created in Canada will require a skilled trade designation or a college diploma.What about the extensive restructuring of the automotive industry? There has been a lot of change, but the automotive industry remains one of the world’s largest and most important business sectors. Moreover, a surge in demand is expected as consumers make purchases that would normally have been made in the last two years and additional demand is created by increases in population, new consumer offerings and improved manufacturing technology. Employment prospects for automotive sales and F&I management are good for the following reasons:
A growing shortage of well trained individuals to fill sales occupations
Service Canada predicts there will be strong demand for qualified candidates in Sales and Service, Business, Finance and Administration “because this sector will account for more than 45% of all retirements over the next five years.”
Significant worldwide growth within the automotive industryYou know what happens when demand for a specific job goes up. Salaries also go up. That’s exactly what is happening for F&I Professionals. Key elements of F&I training programs can include the following areas of study:
Business Manager’s Role in the Dealership
Financial Institutions and Their Requirements
Getting the Contracts Purchased
Credit Reporting Overview
Understanding Credit Scores and Risks
Reading Credit Reports
Prequalification Using Credit Reports
Use a Customer-Friendly, Aggressive F&I Process
Qualify Your Customer, Use The Right Words
Effective Selling Techniques
Menu Selling Leasing Skills and Techniques
With the rising level of automobile production and its corresponding worldwide stocks based on the rapid industrialisation in Asia, Africa and Latin America plus the rising demand in Eastern Europe, the proportion of textiles in a motor car is increasing in response to more stringent comfort and safety needs in industrialised countries like the USA, Japan and Western Europe.Automobile textiles, which are non apparel textiles, are widely used in vehicles like cars, trains, buses, aircraft and marine vehicles. Hence, the term automobile textile means all type of textile components e.g. fibers, filaments, yarns and the fabric used in automobiles.Nearly two third of the automobile textiles are for interior trim, i.e. seat cover, carpets and roof and door liners. The rest is utilized to reinforce tyres, hoses, safety belts, air bags, etc.It is projected that nearly 45 square meters of textile material is utilized in a car for interior trim (seating area, headlines, side panel, carpet and trunk). According to a survey, the percentage of textile in a motor car amounts to 2 per cent of the overall weight of a car. Apart from this, visible textile components, eliminating hidden components such as in tyres and composites, hoses and filters; amount to 10-11 kg per vehicle in absolute terms. Industrial textiles are largely utilized in vehicles and systems including cars, buses, trains, air crafts and marine vehicles. In automobile textile industry, four types of fabrics are used, namely:. Air bag fabrics. Fabric used as a basis for reduction in weight of body parts. Tyre cord fabrics. Automotive upholstery and other textile fabrics used inside the vehicleThe airbag and seat belts used as safety measures are one of the latest types of textiles in automobiles and have a potential market for technical textiles that has a considerable scope for growth and development. Because of government legislation and consumer interest, the applications have been extremely successful over the last ten to fifteen years.In the last decade, airbags or inflatable restraints have received noteworthy significance as a safeguard for the driver and the passengers in case of an accident. Initially, the bags were made for head-on collision, but now, there are many other safety devices like side impact bags, knee bolsters, side curtain, etc, available for safety in any type of crash. Because frontal collisions are a main reason of accidental deaths, airbags are being presented as a standard product in vehicles by legislation, which has given the quick increment of airbags business in the last decade. NHTSA and HHS report that airbag systems have played an important role in saving thousands of lives since 1985. In 2002 alone, due to the airbag system a 20 per cent reduction in fatalities resulting from fatal collisions has been observed.In 1999, there were 55 million vehicles with 81 million airbags. In 2004, the number of frontal airbag units was nearly 100 million and the number of side-impact airbags nearly 65 million. In the same year, nearly 23 per cent of the new vehicles in North America had side airbags for chest protection and 17 per cent had side airbags for head protection. By 2005, this has increased to 180 million airbags and 65 million vehicles.Fabric application demand has increased to 325 million square meters in 2005, and 83 tons of fibre, mostly nylon has been used.The world airbag market is estimated to rise from 66 million units in 1996 to over 200 million units in 2006, a compound annual growth rate of 12 per cent. Over this decade, Europe will put in 60 million units, Asia-Pacific 30 million units and North America 24 million units.While North American and Western European markets are growing, considerable development is also seen in the international market. As new applications are developing for airbags, including rear seat bags, inflatable seat belts and an outside airbag system for pedestrians, new fabrics and combinations are being applied. The front and passenger bags have different requirements because of the distance from the occupant, but they both have rapid increment and deflation in a very short time span.Rollover bags must remain inflated for five seconds. In addition to new uses, expected trends include lighter fabric for use with newer “cold inflators,” blended with materials like fabric and film, new coating polymers (Silicone now dominates having replaced neoprene).Growth of safety devices in the car interiorIncreasing electronics and safety devices require more space in the interior together with new concepts for arrangement.Worldwide market for PA airbag yarnsThe fibre manufacturer Accordis Industrial Fibres BV, Arnhem/ Netherlands reported that the global market for PA airbag was 84,000 tons in 2005.AirbagsAirbags were first introduced in the late 1960s, but it is only in the 1990s that their use increased amazingly and it is set to grow further. This validates the research and development still being made on design, deployment and base fabric material.The prospects for the textile and making-up indus¬tries are huge in the area of airbag production. This is due to its large requirement particularly in view of the legislation, which is already imposed by many countries.Around 1.42 meter2 of fabric is required to produce driver¬ side airbags on light trucks. This estimation gives the idea that the airbag market is of great importance for the use of technical textiles. Airbags are normally made by coated or uncoated fabrics of PA 6.6 yarns with lesser air permeability.A fabric cushion is included as a part of textile ingredient for an airbag, which is folded into the center of the steering wheel (for the driver) or in the glove compartment (for the front seat passenger). Generally, the bag is woven by nylon 6, 6 filament yarns, which are in demand in huge quantities because of their high strength-to-weight ratio, favorable elongation, adequate thermal properties and relatively low cost of production. Other properties required are high tear strength, high anti-seam slippage, controlled air permeability and be capable for being folded into confined places for over ten years without deterioration.FunctionA triggering device sets-off explosive chemicals when it senses an accident above 35 km/h is about to occur. These chemicals hold back and cushion the car occupant from collision with harder objects. The fabric from which the bag is made must be competent for withstanding the strength of the propellant chemicals. More over, the hot gases must not penetrate the fabric and burn the skin of the car occupant.For airbags to perform their protective function, each function in the system must work with reliability and predictability. In frontal airbag initiation, the cushion begins to deploy within 20 ms after collision and is fully set up in 50 ms. Within this period of time, the bag has to spread through the plastic cover, blown up and fill the space between the dashboard and occupant.Material applicationsAirbags are generally made from high tenacity multifilament nylon 6, 6 in yarn quality fineness from 210, 420 to 840 denier, although some polyester and even some nylon 6 is utilized. As Nylon 6 is softer, it is used to lessen skin abrasion. Airbag fabric is not dyed, but has to be scoured to eliminate impure substances, which could encourage mildew or other problems. Airbags are created in compact size, plain woven fabrics.The amount of fabric required to make an airbag depends on its location in the car and the market it serves. The fabrics utilized to produce a driver’s and a passenger’s airbag are quiet different. Most drivers’ side airbags are coated by using lower denier yarns that give strong and light-weight fabrics. The looser weave has been permitted by stronger nylon 6, 6 yarns that create fabrics with lighter weight, less stiffness and better packagabiIity.The fabric which is used to produce passenger airbags is generally uncoated. These kinds of passenger bags are larger so they create lower gas pressures, have longer inflation times, and possess gas which is cooler. The constituent yarns are of relatively heavy denier. Normally, airbag fabrics are made by rapier weaving machines or air jet looms with electronic dobbies.Airbag fabrics varietiesThe earliest airbags were Neoprene coated and woven Nylon 6, 6, but later lighter and thinner silicone coated versions followed. Afterwards, though, uncoated fabrics have emerged. The majority of these fabrics are coated with an elastomeric material such as neoprene or silicone. The long lasting popularity of coated materials for airbags has been seen because of its capability to work as a heat shield and the comparative ease that design engineers can expect wider performance in their use.Though, there are some intrinsic problems with coated airbags, which cover their large thickness, incapability to be folded into small spaces and inclination of decay over time. Coated fab¬rics are simple to cut and sew and the air porosity can be well managed.The drawbacks linked with coated airbags and their subsequent substitution with uncoated materials has warranted significant developments from two sectors of the industry. The uncoated airbags can be recycled in a simple manner. The first development has come from the yarn and fabric producers, who have concurrently developed the performance of the fabrics. Their gas permeability has fallen under specific scrutiny since the way an uncoated fabric discharges gas and establishes the capability of an airbag to resist impact. The second development has gained from the inflator producers, who have started to substitute the original inflators, which release air, with devices that emit air like argon and helium. This is greatly helpful because these gases are equally as effective at lower temperatures and discharge less hot particles.Finishing procedure of airbag fabricsAfter weaving, the airbag fabric is scouring to reduce size. To gain accurate air permeability, the airbag fabric can be calendered. Apart from influencing the air permeability by weaving and finishing, accurate permeability control can be achieved by coating. When the airbag material has been finished, it is sewn together; the best practice is by using it with a laser.Airbags are sewn with Nylon 6, 6, polyester, and Kevlar aramid yarns, the sewing patterns and densities being selected to maximize performance. When a bag is sewn it is folded inside its cover. Packing should permit for tethers connected to the bag to manage operation. Finally, a cover can be set up over the bag to safeguard it from abrasion.Airbag sizesAirbags are available in various sizes and configurations depending on the type of car and steering. Moreover, the driver’s side airbag is smaller than the front passengers by about 65 liters capacity upwards.SuppliersIn airbag systems, there are mainly five suppliers of the airbag module itself, representing 32 per cent of the value of the airbag system. The key airbag control unit has four suppliers representing 24 per cent of the value, and the seat belt portion of the system has two suppliers with a 31 per cent contribution. Yet, the remaining part with only 13 per cent of the value of the airbag system has over 40 suppliers.Two years back INVISTA, formerly DuPont Textiles & Interiors, had expanded nylon 6, 6 fiber production capacity, totaling 7.5 kilotons (kt.) at two facilities; one in Qing Dao, China, and the second in Gloucester, UK.A wide range of highly specialized polyamide 6.6 airbag yarns, Enka Nylon, are made by Polymide High Performance at its Obernburg (Germany) and Scottsboro (Alabama/USA) plants.Zapata Corporation in December, 2005 announced that it completed the sale of all of its 4,162,394 shares of Safety Components International, Inc. to private equity investor Wilbur L. Ross, Jr. for nearly $51.2 million. Zapata’s stake stands for nearly 77.3 per cent of Safety Components’ total outstanding common stock. Safety Components is an independent producer of air bags and the company’s fabrics are largely utilized for automobile safety air bags and in niche industrial and commercial applications. Safety Components headquartered in Greenville, South Carolina, has plants situated in North America, Europe, China and South Africa.Takata is a manufacturer of automotive seatbelts. Takata started researching seatbelt technologies in 1952. After eight years of research and development Takata became the first safety company to offer seatbelts as standard equipment to the Japan market in 1960. In the early 1970′s, Takata worked with NHTSA to satisfy new high speed crash test requirements and supplied the first energy absorbing seat belt system to pass a 30 mph crash test. Irvin Automotive is another company within the Takata Corporation. Irvin makes armrests, cargo covers, molded consoles, seat covers and sun visors.Narricot Industries, LP, located in Southampton, Pennsylvania, is a producer of woven narrow fabrics in North America. With manufacturing facilities in Boykins and South Hill, Virginia, Narricot is the number one supplier of seatbelt webbing to the North American automotive industry.Autoliv is a manufacturer of airbag, seatbelts and other automotive safety devices. Autoliv has nearly 80 wholly or partially owned manufacturing facilities in 30 vehicle-producing countries. Autoliv and its joint ventures and licensees make over 80 million seat belt systems annually.Toray Industries, Inc, that makes nylon 6, 6 fiber and textile for use in automobile air bags, plans to start manufacturing base fabric for automotive airbags at its Czech textile subsidiary in January 2006. The company plans to invest in the necessary equipment to its subsidiary Toray Textiles Central Europe. The production output is projected at 600,000 meters in 2006 and 4 million meters in 2010. At present, Toray makes the fabric in Japan, Thailand and China mainly for airbags used in Japanese cars.Performance tests and standardsMany individual tests carried out with airbag yarns and fabrics is said to number over 50. The ASTM, the SAE and the Automotive Occupant Res¬traint Council (AORC) have established various standards that express appropriate tests for airbags.Seat beltsThe seat belt is an energy absorbing device that is designed to keep the load imposed on a victim’s body during a crash down to survivable limits. Basically, it is designed to offer non recoverable extension to decrease the deceleration forces that the body comes across in a crash. Non recoverable extension is significant to prevent the occupants from being restrained into their seats and sustaining whiplash injuries right away after a collision. To prevent more webbing from paying out after an accident, the automatic belt has a locking device known as inertia reel. An efficient seat belt will only permit its wearer to move forward a maximum of about 30 cm to avoid contact with any fixed parts of the car.It is believed that the seat belts were invented concurrently in America as well as Sweden. The only difference was that the American belt was a strap to encircle the waist and the Swedish belt was a diagonal band made to defend the upper body. Now, a blend of the two designs is a most prevalent arrangement and is called the 3-point belt, which is secured by two fittings on the floor and a third on the sidewall or pillar. Racing drivers wear other patterns, particularly two shoulder straps and a lap belt. The earliest automotive seat belts were set up and were adjustable so that they could fit the wearer manually. The automatic belt superseded this pattern by providing the wearer more space to move.Seat belts are available in multiple layers and are woven in narrow fabrics in twill or satin fabrication from high tenacity polyester yarns, generally 320 ends of 1100 dtex or 260 ends of 1670 dtex yarn. These structures permit highest yarn packing within a given area for highest strength and the trend is to utilize coarser yarns for good abrasion resistance. For ease they require to be softer and more flexible along the length, but rigidity is needed along the width to facilitate them to slide easily between buckles and retract smoothly into housings. Edges require being scuff resistant, but not disagreeably rigid and the fabric must be resistant to microorganisms. Nylon was utilized in some early seat belts, but due to of its higher UV degradation resistance; polyester is now widely used worldwide.Performance standardsNormally, the performance standards require a seat belt to restrain a passenger weighing 90 kg involved in a collision at 50 km/h (about 30 mph) into a fixed object. Straight pull tensile strength should be at least 30 KN/50 mm. Other tests include accelerated ageing and in the made-up form, resistance to fastening and unfastening 10,000 times. The seat belt must be long lasting without any significant deterioration. In many cars, after ensuring the inclusion of the airbag, efforts have been made to link the function of the two devices (seat belt and airbag).ConclusionNo doubt that the airbags help to save lives, but at times they can also be a source of serious injury. The search for a uniform smart airbag, which can perceive the size of the passenger or whether the seat is empty and react in that manner, is in progress. Such a ‘smart’ airbag will incorporate sensors to judge the weight, size and location of the car passengers and hence deploy more appropriately.In addition, incorporated safety devices associated with the seat belt along with other safety items, particularly for child passengers, are under development. The trend towards uncoated fabrics is anticipated to continue and so is the improved trend towards more airbags per car and fuII-size bags. There is also a technical challenge of producing the bag by using more rational techniques and related specifications made by the automotive industry.
The UAW is one of the prime players in the government’s bailout of the auto industry. It is an accepted fact that the labor cost of an American made car is one of the driving forces behind the cost of the product produced. With the government accepting an equity share of the automobile business, what concessions will the labor union make to save the jobs that they have?One of the obvious concessions that the union is going to have to make is a salary cut. One of the easiest ways to make the salary cuts to the rank and file is to agree to having the workers with the highest wages take a buyout for early retirement. The big question however is will the buyout eventually hurt the union in the long run.One of the largest expenses in the labor contract is the retirement and health care benefits that are made to employees who were under union contract prior to the last contract being signed. While senior management members often have golden parachutes waiting for them, line workers often receive $100,000 in buyouts for early retirement along with providential health care benefits. This “golden parachute” amounts to almost 2 years salary for the line worker on an early buyout. Additionally the early retiree is eligible for state benefits once his position is terminated.In the first quarter of 2008, the three Detroit automakers, GM, Ford and Chrysler offered buyouts to hourly UAW represented employees. These buyouts represented an attempt by the automakers to cut payroll costs. Typically workers who were offered buyouts were older, more highly paid workers. By cutting the costs of the workers with the most longevity who typically make the most money, the automakers look to replace them with younger employees who are entitled to less compensation. This practice will reduce labor costs however the possibility of a drop in the quality of the product produced is also inherent.One particular problem that the UAW is facing is that as their membership dwindles as union members are accepting buyouts is the growing automobile manufacturing area in the South. These automobile plants in the South are typically foreign owned (Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen) and are providing serious competition to Detroit. These Southern plants are generally lower paid and non-union plants. The Detroit automakers are saddled with increased competition and the cost of the tens of thousands of buyouts that they have committed to.The buyouts of UAW represented employees will allow the Big 3 automakers to close plants that have become un-profitable in the recent economic downturn. These plant closures will provide a cost savings to the Big 3 that can be applied to the existing cost of the UAW buyouts that have been offered. The UAW buyouts will in the long run provide a cost savings to the automakers, however it also in the long run will hurt the UAW as its membership continues to decrease. This loss of membership will ultimately damage the power of the labor union in its contract negotiations with the automakers.
In the 1980s a phenomenon began to take hold in the retail industry: wholesale [or warehouse] clubs. These ‘big box’ retailers are dotting the American landscape and offer something beyond what the typical Wal-Mart, Target, or Kmart have: large packaged items at nicely discounted prices. Currently, Costco’s, Sam’s Club, and BJs dominate the market. Recently, my family joined BJ’s and I will share with you why I think their business is a success story.When we moved to the Raleigh, North Carolina area from New Jersey in 2004, we knew that the retail market — including supermarkets and discount stores — was strong. Within a two mile radius of where we live we counted at least a half a dozen supermarkets and each of the big three discounters, Wal-Mart, Target, and Kmart, were present. Certainly, our choice of stores was in the abundant category.Initially, little thought was given by us to joining a wholesale club, but a mailing received in our home from BJ’s caught our attention. We knew that Sam’s Club was also located in our town, while the closest Costco was in Durham — a thirty minute trek. Thus, our consideration to join would have only been between BJ’s and Sam’s Club. So, what was the deciding factor? Two free months of introductory membership! Yes, we “fell” for it.Within a day or two I took my family to the nearest BJ’s, in Cary, and marched up to the help desk. Although the cheerful woman working behind the desk attempted to persuade us to sign up immediately for a discounted and extended (15 months) one year membership, we told her that we were not familiar with the store and wanted to use the two free months to get to know the place and to see if what they sold was what we wanted. She understood as she snapped my picture and handed my club membership card to me.It took only the first visit for us to realize we liked BJ’s. My wife and I joked at the colossal sizes of some of the items — get a look at this five pound can of tuna! — but, in the end, we found enough items suitable for our family — particularly dry goods — that we realized our membership would pay for itself within our first two visits.If you are familiar with wholesale clubs, you know that they carry just about everything. BJ’s is the same way and we were impressed by the variety and amount of items available. Additionally, BJs’ own line of products — Berkley and Jensen — is a nice alternative for even greater savings. I purchased the “Men’s Daily” vitamins and the price was approximately 30% lower than the name brand competitor. You can find the Berkley and Jensen name on a variety of products including gourmet foods, specialty imports, dry goods, clothing, cookware, etc.There are many other areas in which you will save big at BJ’s. Their selection of books is good and they carry many of the current bestsellers at prices that Barnes and Noble or Borders can only dream about. You can save plenty of money shopping their optical or automotive department — I guess I won’t be going back to Jiffy Lube anymore – and I have noticed some great discounts on vacation packages. Our Cary club also has a gas station for members. Gas discounts generally run about ten cents per gallon and that quickly adds up especially in this day of elevated fuel prices. Not all BJ’s have gas stations, but it is a nice bonus for members where available.Is the environment perfect? No, of course not. One area of disappointment is their personal computers – the laptops at their Cary location are hidden in a locked cage behind the main desk. When I asked the supervisor about the missing laptops – one had been on display two months earlier – she cheerfully explained that they did not have the room to display a laptop. Huh?! With plenty of desktop computers on display one would think that some room could be made – I wondered if the real reason was theft. Since my arms already were full of checked out items I did not want to go to a cage to view computers. Cages are for zoo animals while computers, especially if you really want to sell them, ought to be out on full display.For the most part, the personnel working at the Cary location are very friendly and helpful. This differed sharply from one of the competing clubs we belonged to while living in New Jersey a few years back. Of course, we make sure that we shop at the slowest possible time of the day and we check out our own items. Occasionally, the scanner will give you an ‘attitude’ and claim that you didn’t scan something properly but that is usually quickly resolved by a roving clerk who comes by to rectify problems.All in all, I give BJ’s high marks. We have since converted our trial membership to a full membership and are looking forward to receiving great savings and a having a continued good shopping experience. Now, if BJ’s would only put their laptops back out on full display…
Chrysler, the #3 American car manufacturer filed for bankruptcy protection with 39 billion more in debts than assets. General Motors (GM), the #1 American car manufacturer filed for bankruptcy protection with 91 billion more in debts than assets. Since February 2000, employment in motor vehicles and parts has declined by approximately 50 percent. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics) So what is to become of the automotive suppliers?Maybe we can all learn from the state of Michigan. Michigan is helping automotive suppliers transition to biomedical device production. The biomedial sector is GROWING at around 5.7% per year and the U.S. is a leader in biomedical exports in the world. (Would you want something installed in YOUR body made in a foreign country?) Automotive suppliers have many of the same skills, capabilities and systems in place to produce biomedical devices… it is a matter of retraining workforce, tracking all raw material lots into a batch of products and understanding ISO 13485. Michigan has provided training for some automotive suppliers to transition to biomedical devices and Michigan is launching a fund to help manufacturers diversify into new emerging sectors such as medical devices. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) recently unveiled the Michigan Supplier Diversification Fund. Its first program, the Michigan Loan Participation Program, will address the current lack of bank financing available to companies that are attempting to diversify. Under the loan program, the MEDC will partner with private lenders to offer loan participations with little or no interest payments for a specific period of time.I recently attended an event in Ohio about Transitioning Ohio Manufacturers to Medical Device Production and had a few takeaways:Biomedical has three categories from simple tongue suppressors to heart valves and there are regulations associated with each category
It may take 3-7 years to get a product to market
If a manufacturer wants to get involved in biomedical it begins with early relationships with biomedical companies while they are developing the prototype with the upside that the manufacturing contract may last 10 years or more
Ohio has established incubators for biomedical devices – one across from the Cleveland Clinic and BioStart in Cincinnati
ISO 13485 covers medical device production
Medical devices go through a decontamination phase via gamma radiation or electronic beam. For example, regular plastic or metal devices can go through a decontamination process and then be sold as a higher margin biomedical device.
GMPFirst.com – for Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) for Medical Devices
DeviceLink.com – to learn about the Medical Device Industry
When the biggest automotive aftermarket show in North America, and even perhaps the world breaks its attendance record, then you know that there is a reason for the renewed optimism that automotive accessory manufacturers are showing these days. Although aftermarket sales by SEMA members for 2012 are expected to reach almost 30 billion dollars, this is still 4 billion short of its record from five years ago. Seems improbable that its beginnings were as an informal swap meet held in 1976 at a stadium in Los Angeles.SEMA executives have also reported that China and the Middle East have seen explosive growth. These are two entirely different, and dare we say opposite markets however, as Middle East buyers from oil-rich nations do not think twice about extravagantly spending for cars and luxury aftermarket items. China, on the other hand, is justifiably derided for having manufacturers that turn out inferior and unsafe copies of popular aftermarket products and designs.Along the way though, car owners and enthusiasts have seen an explosion of new products from competing manufacturers. These include HID lights, coilover suspensions, engine upgrades and body kits. In terms of mechanical and electronic upgrades, the best seem to come from German, Japanese and U.S. companies. The aftermarket industry includes about a dozen categories, ranging from business services, to collision repair and refinishing, to wheels and tires, mobile electronics and technology, utility vehicles, racing and performance parts, vehicle restorations, body kits and restyling and car care. It also includes a host of other products ranging from automotive accessories to tools and equipment.These new products are sold in traditional brick and mortar outlets as well as online. Nowadays, with most people cramped for time, online sales have also grown exponentially. And often offer the same products cheaper. What’s more, it’s so much easier to compare prices from the comfort of wherever your are, instead of physically going to different stores to check out the same items. This is not to say that you can do all your shopping online. For example, purchasing a coilover suspension and setting it up properly are two different things, and the experience can sour if the product support is not there. Then again, some shops don’t really offer any product support at all. With the vast amount of information available on the net, however, it’s very easy to look up user and long-term review of the products you are looking at. Do remember that you get what you pay for and what looks like a terrific automotive upgrade now may turn out to be a piece of junk down the road.