By Roger Brown
For an operator to have a vehicle off the road it costs money, both the price of repair and the loss of earnings. Therefore, a business needs to find a reliable bodyshop and build a good relationship with them so it can get its vehicles back into service quickly. Britcom has provided bodyshop services for more than 12 years including bespoke bodybuilding, major and minor accident repairs, painting, chassis modifications, refurbishment, shotblasting and repainting at its purpose-built workshops in Market Weighton, East Yorkshire
Its in-house engineering department can manufacture fabricated parts and sub-assemblies such as chassis sections and body panels, and the team are skilled in the repair and re-laminating of damaged fibreglass parts. Fran Johnson, Bodyshop Manager at Britcom said: “We have fully skilled panel beaters, painters, fabricators and welders and all our welders are fully coded. Also, we provide these services for a wide customer base including CV dealers, fleet operators, insurance companies and individuals.”
Britcom’s in-house service technicians provide associated engine and electrical repairs when required and have diagnostic equipment covering the major truck manufacturers. The on-site steam cleaning operation ensures a vehicle is clean before going into the workshop, with the water used recycled and all waste removed in accordance with environmental standards.
The firm can do anything from refurbishing a single heritage truck to painting hundreds of vans in one order. “When it comes to makes and models we are MAN and Mercedes approved chassis convertors”, Johnson explained. “However, one of our strengths is that we are not make and model specific and work with all the major truck manufacturers.”
Britcom also has a 20-metre shot blasting booth with painting carried out in low-bake spray-booths. There is also the capacity to spray the largest road going vehicles in its 25 metre spray booth. It can provide base coat and lacquer and two pack paint finishes as well as paint warranties.Vinyl lettering and other specialist operations are also available through Britcom’s approved supplier network.
The firm is BS EN ISO 9001:2015 accredited, a member of Fleetwatch as well as the Vehicle Builders and Repairers Association (VBRA), with Johnson a member of the VBRA National Manufacturers Council. He added: “At Britcom we offer a comprehensive one stop shop all under one roof which means you’re dealing with one person for the whole project – vehicle sales, design, build, paint and livery application.
“There is continual training for our staff and we recruit apprentices and train them our way so everyone is working to the same standards.” Several franchised dealers now run large bodyshop operations, with Scania dealers Keltruck and TruckEast two of the leading ones. Based at its Wellingborough branch, TruckEast’s facility caters to all types of commercial vehicle and trailer and is equipped with the latest tools including Josam jig equipment and a laser alignment system.
ADVANCED SPRAY BOOTHS
Earlier this year Mercedes-Benz dealer Sparshatt Truck & Van acquired two new spray booths at its workshop in Sittingbourne, Kent and introduced a same-day paint service for commercial vehicles as part of a £330,000 investment. The two Titan CV spray booths, fitted by Todd Engineering, of Rugeley, Staffordshire, include LED lighting and fully insulated roller shutter doors.
One of them is 18m in length and can accommodate an articulated tractor unit and 13.6m semi-trailer combination.The other is 9m long and is used for vans and smaller rigid trucks. They also have robotic gas catalytic dryers by Italian manufacturer, Greentech. Automatically controlled, natural gas-powered panels in the form of an arch pass directly over the vehicle, transmitting low-intensity infrared heat.
Surface temperatures of 420ºC on the heaters mean very quick curing times, drying the paint within five minutes of exposure. Sparshatts has also commissioned a mobile version of the system. Bodyshop Manager Andy Macrae said: “This is first time we’ve been able to offer a paint service covering trailers, while in terms of throughput we’ve taken a massive step forward. “Previously, we’d have to wait up to 12 hours for the paint to cure.
“But we know of home delivery companies whose vans need refurbishing prior to return to their leasing providers, and who want to get them in and out in a day – that’s a service we can now provide.” Some of the first trucks to go through the larger booth were Actros tractor units, repainted in silver to be used by various F1 teams.
Many of the vehicles that go through the bodyshop will have been returned by operators on completion of their contracts, before being resold by Sparshatt.The dealer also undertakes accident repairs on behalf of insurers. Dealer Principal Steve Rooney said: “We’ve spent a lot more than we need have done for a conventional system, but Greentech’s eco-friendly drying technology holds out the promise of payback over time, through dramatic reductions in energy usage. “It also means we can offer an industry-leading level of service to customers for whom vehicle availability is a top priority and in the right circumstances, we can now paint their truck, van or trailer to an exceptionally high standard and get it back to them on the same day.”
Independent approved accident repair centre Perrys of Gobowen, near Oswestry, Shropshire operates a Renault Truck and Van service and parts dealership at its site which includes 14 workshop bays and two commercial spray booths with paint mixing systems from PPG and Spies Hecker. Facilities include a Josam chassis straightening jig, two Josam cab jigs, a TruckCam chassis wheel-alignment system and GYS invertor spot welders.
Technicians undergo manufacturer training and certification combined with the Renault Trucks online system and NG 10 Diagnostic equipment to check vehicles before and after repairs are complete. Mechanics at Perrys also work with the Mercedes-Benz WIS system as well as Texa diagnostics equipment.