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The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation

State-of-the-art bodyshop completed during lockdown opens its doors

Date: Wednesday 16 December 2020

A brand new bodyshop delivered at the height of the Covid-19 national lockdown has opened its doors after a six-month fit-out by LKQ Euro Car Parts’ Workshop Solutions team.

East Bilney Coachworks’ eighth site, in Thetford, is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment for servicing vehicles that feature increasingly sophisticated technology. Designed to be a one-stop-shop for all vehicle repair needs, it has a full suite of diagnostic tools to allow every vehicle in the workshop – including hybrids and electric vehicles – to receive a full pre- and post-service analysis.

This enables the team to properly understand the extent of the damage done to a vehicle beyond any visible bumps and scrapes, create a bespoke repair plan and re-test all components and sensors at the end of a service to guarantee roadworthiness.

The workshop is also fitted out with the latest bodyshop equipment such as ramps, dent pullers and welders, and features a sliding spray booth capable of painting seven vehicles at a time, significantly boosting the site’s capacity and reducing key-to-key time for customers.

The design, created by the LKQ Euro Car Parts Workshop Solutions division, champions efficiency across every aspect of the workshop, even down to the plant room, where a bespoke controlled air system ensures optimal temperatures are preserved whatever the weather, to keep machinery operating safely throughout the year.

The final look and feel incorporates clean lines and aluminium finishes, making the workshop simple to clean and maintain, and helping to ensure the shortest possible cycle time for every vehicle.

Mark Baldwin, director at East Bilney Coachworks, said: “This is the first time I’ve partnered with LKQ Euro Car Parts on a workshop fit-out, and it has been a completely seamless process from start to finish. After the initial meeting where the design was agreed, other than a weekly production meeting, I was able to sit back and let the team get to work.

“It has been a challenging few months for us, due to the impact of Covid-19, but the team has been able to guarantee safe, socially-distanced working practices throughout the whole fit-out process, to deliver my vision of a ‘space age’ workshop that’s fit for the future.

“We now have all the equipment we need to do anything the main dealerships can do – and we’ve got manufacturer approval to service a series of leading makes and models. This means we’re in a position to ensure every insurer and driver can send vehicles our way with confidence, knowing that they can expect the highest standards of service every time.”

Adam White, Workshop Solutions director at LKQ Euro Car Parts, said: “As the vehicles on our roads become smarter, it’s vital that technicians across every discipline have the skills and tools available to service them.

“Whenever a car equipped with ADAS, for example, is involved in a collision, there’s a risk of its finely-tuned sensors being knocked out of calibration. Bodyshops must be ready to address this as standard in any vehicle repair, becoming a true one-stop-shop to help drivers get their vehicles back as quickly as possible.

“Working with Mark has been fantastic – he recognised the need to future-proof his workshop, and had clear goals in mind for the final design. The end result is a clean, efficient workshop that is ready to adapt and respond to the evolution of vehicle technologies, built with outstanding customer service at its heart.”

Family-owned East Bilney Coachworks was founded in 1975, and now has a 200-strong workforce working across eight sites in East Anglia.

LKQ Euro Car Parts’ six-strong Workshop Solutions project team provides a full end-to-end service for workshop design and upgrades, spanning initial design, fit-out and handover, as well as the ongoing supply of paints, parts, training and other services. The team’s partnership with East Bilney is ongoing, including plans for future upgrades at other sites.