Top shop: AMS debuts 10 fresh tools of the trade

Fleet manager AMS leverages its expertise in the field to deliver tools and training for workshops

ANALYSIS, PMV

Big things have small beginnings, goes the idiom, and this could also aptly be used to describe the launch by fleet management firm AMS of its ‘Workshop Solutions’ division with an equipment showroom and training academy at the Ras Al Khor Complex in Dubai.

The principle behind the premises grew out of AMS’ 2014 acquisition of the Danish brake-test producer BM Autoteknik — one of just two approved brake test manufacturers in the UAE.

Today, AMS currently has test lines running with Dubai’s RTA and Abu Dhabi’s ADNOC, and is presently awaiting the outcome of a bid process for a major contract with the former.

Now, after more than a year of negotiations with industry manufacturers, AMS has emerged with a portfolio of 10 European product lines covering every major workshop application from vehicles lifts and brake inspection to tyre alignment and fume extraction.

Henning Andersen, GM for AMS Workshop Solutions, joined AMS just over a year ago, hired to bring his wealth of experience from the automotive aftersales market in Europe to bear on the developing markets in the Gulf.

He notes: “It was actually a rather interesting journey. Early on they realised that with that the BM brand alone they could not survive, so the case was made for having a full set of workshop tools and equipment, and we then took to the challenge of approaching manufacturers.

“It’s a long process: we first had to evaluate the market and what agencies were free, and it was a rather big job to get all of them, but today we represent 10 really premium brands from Germany’s KSN to oil-monitoring systems from Sweden, and it’s a very good range of tools.”

He continues: “Our main customers today are in Dubai and the UAE, but we are also approaching the governments in Abu Dhabi and Qatar. So we need to have a showroom where we can bring the customers to see the range for themselves, and from the showroom take them to the training academy where they can see the equipment in a more realistic environment.”

The training component of the premises is being handled by AMS’ ‘field support representatives’, experienced industry professionals who within the context of the company have been travelling the world providing training in harsh and challenging environments for the company’s customers for the last 14 years.

Andrew Wilson, AMS’ training programme manager, has been in Dubai the last 18 months developing in his current role, but spent the last two years assisting fleets in Afghanistan.

He explains: “The training in the practical demonstration area can be anything technical: it could be for diagnostics or fault-finding, but we split it 50:50 between theory and practice.

“The first course, for ‘successful fleet management’, is with the Dubai Municipality, which has 1,200 vehicles — everything ranging from garbage trucks to light commercial vehicles and passenger vehicles. We’re going to provide training to the management staff in terms of how to utilise that fleet properly: how to rotate that fleet and get the best value for money, time scheduled maintenance and services and plan for unscheduled maintenance — so the whole corpus of fleet management will be encapsulated into a four-day course.”

Wilson notes that his background is automotive, and that all the field support representatives have worked in the automotive industry, for manufacturers or fleet operators, even on armoured vehicles.

“We’ve currently got two guys over in Bahrain airport, looking at the processes and procedures and analysing the skill set of the workforce. At Bahrain airport they have 1,800 pieces of ground support equipment: everything from catering trucks to the pushback tugs for pushing the planes out.

“Now we’re bringing it through Dubai, with this fixed location where we can provide that same style of training to complement commercial workshops and government entities with their own fleets.”

An ideal commercial workshop client for AMS is Orient Motors, a member of Sharjah’s ruling family-owned Orient Transport group. The company initially maintained its own fleet of vehicles, but subsequently decided to develop its workshop into a profit centre and offer to repair vehicles, trucks and buses — anything from light vans to a 56-seater.

The man who heads up this workshop operations is Jim Tuff, and Wilson notes: “Jim, who is from the UK motor industry, currently has the capacity for 75 staff — that’s his limit. However, his targets keep increasing, and so then the only way you can do that is by making your staff more efficient — so Jim sees the benefit I having his staff trained to increase their skill set and improve their productivity.”

He adds: “We have actually already done that for Dubai Municipality. We identified a skill deficit, and that is what has led to these courses. The next course will be a technical course with technicians and mechanics. General maintenance is no problem, but they struggle with anti-lock braking (ABS) faults and that kind of thing, and we’re looking to improve their skill set so they stop having repeat repairs.”

The process of improving the general standard of workshop training in the region is still its infancy, according to Wilson, but the RTA, for one, are looking to improve the standard of workshops here in Dubai — and AMS could play a major role with its training accreditation from established bodies in Europe.

Wilson explains: “The whole idea further down the line would be to work in conjunction with the UK-based Institute of Road Transport Engineers (IRTE) and the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) to accredit the training courses that we deliver — to take a technician, test a skill set and accredit them.

“Further down the line again, and in the direction Dubai is aiming, we will offer apprenticeship training for the technicians to attend maybe one day a week or one week a month — just like in the UK.

“There’s not the desire for that yet in Dubai, because most of the labour in the workshop is imported labour — they don’t come in as young 16- or 17-year-old kids that would want an apprenticeship — but we’re hopeful that this could change in the future with the drive to train the Emirati population.”

AMS WORKSHOP SOLUTIONS:

• BM Autoteknik — brake testers
• FAIP — HPA tyre equipment
• Stenhoj — vehicle lifts
• Migatronic — welding gear
• GIS Technoline — compressors
• Nederman — exhaust extraction
• AC — hydraulic equipment
• Texa — diagnostic equipment
• KS Tools — hand tools
• Metabo — power tools

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