The Irish Tyre Industry Association (ITIA) held its conference and annual dinner at the Hodson Bay Athlone recently.
Speaking at the conference CEO, Sue O’Neill said: “We are delighted to have been able to bring some great speakers here today to really help our members to get insights in to what is coming down the tracks for our industry in terms of innovation and in particular to help them understand how new technologies coming on stream impact on our industry.”
She continued: “Not only are tyre fitters going to need to be trained as the nature of their work is changing, but retailers in particular need to be up to speed on new technologies so that they can identify new opportunities to increase revenue streams.”
The conference kicked off with a presentation by Alan Bithell, Chairman of the British Standard steering panel for the tyre repair standard BS AU 159g and director of the Retread Manufacturing Association.
Alan is working closely with the ITIA in an advisory capacity on the introduction of a tyre repair standard into Ireland. All ITIA members have agreed to adopt a standard here that will ensure the highest standards of repair are carried out.
The UK repair standard and guidance, which was introduced in 1972 and has been revised on several occasions, most recently in 2013. Alan’s presentation took delegates through the UK standard and a debate took place on where improvements can be made. This will form the basis for thew ITIA to introduce an industry benchmark for professional tyre repair – assisting in maximising the mobility and tyre investment of the end user. The ITIA has set up a technical committee to work on this in 2020.
An excellent session explored electrically propelled vehicle hazard management which was delivered by NTDA, Northern Ireland Chairman and General Manager of Donnelly Group, Dasos Michaelides.
Dasos highlighted to members all of the hazardous components in an electrically propelled vehicle and the importance of safe guarding staff and the business when working with these new vehicles. The presentation also addressed working with the current Advance Driver Assistance Systems and more importantly highlighted those that are coming down the track.
An interesting point noted on the day was that in the UK, the IMI is canvassing the UK Government to introduce legislation to make it mandatory to have a qualification before working on these vehicles.
This session dovetailed very well with the presentation by Hugh Connor, Programme Manager for the ITIA Tyre Technician Training Development Programme.
Hugh discussed with delegates how the first course went and outlined the changes for the second course, which is now underway. Speaking after the session Hugh said: “It was great to be able to interact with industry experts who can help to shape what is delivered and it gave me an opportunity to highlight where the ITIA and Athlone Training Centre are taking the course next. This year I am delighted that we have been able to run training for those that are interested in joining the industry, as we are now able to provide much needed technicians to the industry that have received basic training and we will be working with the ITIA to deliver a recruitment option for ITIA members.”
Finally, a session on helping members to use digital marketing to grow business was delivered by Aisling Hurley. Her company, The Business Fairy has helped many organisations to build their brand online. Aisling also focussed on a new campaign that ITIA will be rolling out this year on social media making the public aware of the importance of checking tyre pressure.
Following a really interactive day the ITIA AGM was held where Jackie Wherity, Sales Manager, Consumer, Bridgestone was re-elected as Chair of the Association and will serve a two year term.
The association thanked John McGaughran of Agrigear who retired from the NEC and congratulated both Con Culhane of Apaseal and Orlagh Carroll of Bluebell Tyres who were elected onto the NEC.
O’Neill said: “Moving to Athlone proved to be a great success for our conference and a great night was had by all, late into the night with great food, dancing and plenty of networking and I am delighted that we also managed to raise over €1,200 during our charity raffle, which this year we supported Bumbelance children’s ambulance service.”