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South Africa’s Engine Remanufacturers’ Association (ERA), a constituent association of the Retail Motor Industry (RMI), has been instrumental in the relaunch and leadership of the world-body WERC (the World Engine Remanufacturers’ Council).
WERC was initially formed in London during 2007, but lost momentum over the years until the various country bodies re-established contact at this year’s Automechanika Frankfurt motoring exhibition.
In a meeting held in Bad Boll, near Stuttgart, on 13 September, representatives from over 12 countries revived WERC. “The re-establishment of WERC is significant,” says ERA National Executive Committee Chairman, Frank Mac NICOL, “as it allows our industry to share global best practices and give the Engine Remanufacturer Trade Sector a unified voice in trade and industry matters. The purpose of WERC is in fact to create a world alliance of independent engine rebuilders in search of excellence in their work, better profitability, and greater awareness of the new trends that disruptive technology is bringing into the engine rebuilding business,” explains Mac NICOL.
South Africa is represented strongly on WERC, with Mac NICOL being elected Chairman of WERC and two other ERA delegates – Thys Van Eck (ERA Western Cape Committee Member) and Attie Serfontein (RMI REMAN Cluster ERA SADFIA ACRA: Director) – elected as WERC Secretary.
The new grouping is a more manageable group of countries than its forebear, currently made up of South Africa; Europe (FIRM); the US and Canada (AERA); Latin American countries Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Chile, Guatemala; Australia and New Zealand, but there are plans to invite other countries such as China, Russia and Panama in the future.
Mac NICOL adds: “WERC will be of great benefit to all member countries involved by building better international relations and by stimulating collaboration. At ERA, for instance, we will enjoy improved upskilling, while also lending a hand in assisting other countries overcome their industry issues.” What was previously missing was active engagement between members, but Mac NICOL points out that since then social media technology had facilitated ease of engagement. Under the new arrangement, WERC members would come together daily, using the expedient of WhatsApp, to meet and share ideas and information; to provide feedback on ongoing issues, and to raise trade sector specific concerns.
Jakkie Olivier, CEO of RMI, says this is great news for engine rebuilders around the world, and fully supports the newly-established WERC. “Only through collaboration and communication can we fully grow our industry. Knowledge sharing is paramount, and this body has opened the door to ensure this happens across countries.”
WERC´s comeback happened during Automechanika Frankfurt, where an event called Mobilatina brought together a wide group of engine rebuilders from Latin American countries led by CONAREM, the National Brazilian Engine Rebuilders Council. Almost 60 representatives of Argentina, Chile, México, Equator, Colombia, Guatemala and Brazil had the opportunity to network with members coming from Spain, Europe, the US and South Africa.
Among the issues that WERC intends to address are:
- Exchange of information among members regarding specs and hard-to-find parts;
- Establishing links for common purchase of parts and equipment at discounted prices;
- Research on new technologies, including hybrid, gas and electric conversions, as well as disruptive technologies;
- Establishing agreements regarding on-site training opportunities in Europe and the US; and
- Supporting world conferences during relevant events.
“It is of a critical nature that all committee members participate in the WERC concept, and help keep it alive by moving forward and speaking as one voice so we can grow from strength to strength,” concludes Mac NICOL.