In December of 2019, the Auto Innovation Centre opened to great fanfare in Melbourne
In the 12 months since, the AIC and its dedicated team have grown from strength to strength despite the challenges of COVID-19, kicking goals for clients and impressing with its specialised industry focus and customised service offerings.
For AIC Managing Director Luke Truskinger, it has been an exceptionally rewarding first year despite sometimes tumultuous circumstances.
“When we launched, the AIC was certainly a very new type of business with a lot of unknowns and that is still true today,” Luke said.
“Before opening, we undertook in-depth industry consultation to ensure we launched with the best possible service offering at the time which we have further developed and evolved over the ensuing 12 months.
“Plenty of opportunities have also come out of the woodwork, more than we could have imagined, and this means we have been constantly learning and evolving even in our young age.
“It truly has been an exciting year and despite the impacts of COVID-19, I feel incredibly happy with how the year has unfolded. Most importantly, we have a lot of happy customers!”
Across the year, the Centre has undertaken a great number of varied projects for clients of all shapes and sizes.
“There have been some really interesting projects across the year for a large number of companies in the Australian automotive aftermarket – including but not limited to AAAA members,” Luke said.
“The list of clients who have been impressed by our state-of-the-art facilities and the role we can play in their product development activities is satisfyingly impressive. In particular we have been proud to support a number of companies through the Automotive Innovation Lab Access Grants (AILAG) program, and with the subsequent development work.
“For example, for Disc Brakes Australia we carried out a customised test program for their Composite Disc Brake Rotor for High Performance Applications as part of the AILAG program. Our Ford Mustang V8, data measuring and logging equipment was fitted with the DBA prototype brake components, and we conducted testing at Sandown Raceway to put the components through their paces as part of a customised testing program.
“For Impact Import Group, we sourced a fleet of vehicles and generated 3D scan data and post-processing to enable their modular Gen 2 KUFU Vehicle Storage System to be developed for a wide range of vehicles as part of another AILAG program.
“For Saber Off-Road, we supported the development of a range of soft-rope friendly safe recovery equipment by 3D printing prototypes in various colours and materials. This helped Saber sign off the products with confidence prior to expensive tooling.
“It is so refreshing to hear people say we are helping them and making a positive impact to their businesses. No matter what the project, we are committed to going above and beyond to ensure our customers are satisfied and this won’t change moving forward.”
The services mentioned in the examples above are just some of the ways in which the AIC can assist its clientele.
Across 2020, the Centre has grown to offer not only access to vehicles and the use of the workshop for test fitting, but also 3D scanning and post processing; 3D printing; dynamic vehicle testing and ADAS calibration; a fully-fitted out training facility; laboratory-spec tensile/compression testing and a Damper Dynamometer.
“Looking back to the facilities’ beginnings, it is unreal to see the huge shift we undertook and how far the entire facility here in Victoria has grown and developed. It is something everyone who has been involved is immensely proud of,” Luke said.
“It is a shame that for the majority of 2020 we haven’t been able to invite members of the industry through the facility, but despite the hurdles we have faced, we have still been able to turn on a lot of our business lines which has seen us grow from strength to strength.”
Top of the line equipment is only part of the story at the AIC, with expert staff and a strong relationship with the AAAA allowing the Centre to be a leading force in the marketplace.
“Our relationship with the AAAA truly sets us apart, as the Association is able to support us from a regulatory and government relations point of view. Having them at our side allows us to provide our customers with not just testing services, but also credible and reliable advice around what testing is required, the latest updates from lobbying activity, and more.
“This is a real point of difference for us, as we can provide support to companies who are facing issues with regulators as opposed to offering a ‘vanilla’ testing service.”
With a successful 2020 now coming to a close, Luke is looking forward to a promising 2021.
“The year ahead is certainly looking fantastic,” Luke said.
“In the next 12 months, we are looking to grow our vehicle fleet and bring online new testing equipment, including hydraulic structural and vibration testing. We will also be growing our scanning capabilities, as this is one area where we have really grown across 2020 and we want to see that continue.
“We procured premium scanning and post-processing equipment to ensure the best possible data could be created and we have also implemented a process of performing comprehensive teardowns of our own vehicles and building a vehicle data library. The feedback has been that those efforts have been very much appreciated and in 2021 we look forward to launching our AIC database and subscriber program to enable customers easier access to our data and services.
“Also coming up which is extremely exciting is the launch of the South Australia AIC facility in the first quarter of 2021, which will certainly have a big impact for us and the industry.
“While we have been able to connect many companies with mutual interests or capabilities together across the year through our vast network to enable more efficient product development, we are certainly looking forward to an increased ability to welcome visitors and clients from all around Australia and we are hopeful that 2021 will bring better conditions to facilitate that.” For more information on the AIC, please visit www.autoic.com.au