AutoTest Products (AutoTest)
State-of-the-Art Testing and Diagnostics
Business View Oceania interviews David Jenkins and Lee Alkemade of AutoTest Products for our Automotive View.
With early research and development starting in 1983, AutoTest Products (AutoTest) is Australia’s only quality accredited roadworthy equipment manufacturer- and they are totally Aussie-owned and operated. Born out of Managing Director David Jenkins’ involvement in the design of federal engineering standards for roadworthy compliance and safety legislation in Australia, the company specialises in the development of automotive testing and diagnostic instruments. This followed with brake testers being introduced to the United States, United Kingdom, Malaysia, and Singapore from 1995 onward. The team of 20 works cradle to grave, from research and development, investment, in-house design, and engineering through to manufacture and sales.
AutoTest supplies a variety of industries throughout the country with automotive, mining, emissions, noise and vibration, and Ono Sokki equipment. Their product range includes a combined Gas and Opacity analyser, a range of AutoStop brake performance meters, the AutoLight light transmission window tint meter, the AutoStop suspension meter, the AutoTest eNoise stationary exhaust noise meter, Digital Sound Level meter, the AutoTest acoustic calibrator, a brake fluid tester, battery analyser, and more. AutoTest is also Australia’s exclusive distributor for Ono Sokki testing equipment.
AutoTest values innovation, safety, agility, education, and engineering excellence. The company has won a number of industry awards, including the AutoMonitor Gold Award- Heavy Vehicle Category (Society of Automotive Engineers), and the National Engineering Excellence for Research and Development / National Engineering Excellence for Innovation (AusIndustry, Institute of Engineers Australia). A star product behind AutoTest’s success in the mining sector is their BAMbino monitor, which was the first portable bearing acoustic monitor in the world.
Mr. Jenkins is joined by Marketing and Communications Manager, Lee Alkemade. “We operate out of a single facility in Melbourne, Victoria, supplying directly and via a global distribution network to Australia, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Africa, and the United States. Our network of suppliers, partners, and distributors is vital to our operation- especially in Australia, where we have been able to rely on loyal small businesses to maintain our supply chain despite the major challenges that have arisen following the pandemic. We are also affiliated with a number of industry associations, including the NATA (National Association of Testing Authorities), AAAA (Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association), GEA (Garage Equipment Association – United Kingdom), SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers), IAME (Institute of Automotive Mechanical Engineers), and Australian Made.”
AutoTest is currently working on furthering development in emissions analysis equipment, Mr. Jenkins explains. “There are two main focusses for us in the emissions analysis space right now. The first is the potential for these products to help reduce levels of carbon and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. The other focus is on occupational health and safety. We supply to the mining industry, which is obviously incredibly important to Australia’s economy and provides hundreds of thousands of jobs, but there are certain risks involved coming into contact with toxins. Even for those who aren’t in direct contact, we can take a look at smog in our atmosphere, which contains nitrous oxide, carbon monoxide, etc. As electric vehicles begin to take over the car market as a majority, we think analysis products like ours will lay the foundation for things like emissions taxes on non-electric vehicles.”
AutoTest provides calibration, maintenance, and repair services post-sale; it’s not just the research and development team working intensely. Mr. Jenkins continues, “Depending on the product, our units are sent back to us every 12 to 24 months to be calibrated and inspected for faults, so our service department is always buzzing. The manufacturing team at the moment is probably working hardest of all- we are not currently manufacturing for the shelves as we simply don’t have the time. Thanks to the massive issues with supply and logistics all around the world, we are flat out just filling orders. We consider ourselves lucky in that we have a very strong local network to support us, and our research and development staff have been able to redesign some product specifications to match components that are more readily available… But these are large orders with very specific time constraints, and whenever you’re working with safety-based equipment, you have a responsibility to be absolutely sure that what you’re providing is of the highest quality. Take brakes, for example. They are the primary safety device in every single vehicle on the road. If they don’t work properly, you will have an accident. There is no room for error, so everybody at AutoTest is very, very busy.”
AutoTest are proud of their culturally diverse, inclusive working environment, Ms. Alkemade shares. “We have a few social and professional initiatives in place to make sure we do our due diligence giving everyone a chance to be involved in all sides of the business. One of those is our Lunch and Learning program. Every few weeks one of our team will present a product to the rest of the group. It gives us a chance to eat together and socialise, but also shares knowledge and provides an opportunity for everyone to learn about a product from all angles. For example, a member of our research and development team may not get to see a brake performance meter in use. Our manufacturing staff probably haven’t had the chance to understand how it’s marketed or utilised by the end user, and so on. The idea is to encourage everyone to connect and learn together, to step outside their comfort zone, and to deepen their understanding of the business and industry as a whole.”
She continues, “AutoTest also runs intern programs- we take young engineers while they’re still at university, and we give them three or four months of work experience that they can use to begin their career journey. Many of our interns have actually stayed on to work with us professionally in the past. We are committed to supporting the next generation because it’s the right thing to do, but it also gives us the advantage of new, innovative insights that we can implement into our work ecosystem. Around half of our staff are also female, which is rare in automotive and engineering, so that is something we will continue to be proud of.”
AutoTest views the future as an exciting one. Moving forward, research and development is set to remain a top priority. With a massive 20% of revenue invested back into the in-house department, excellence in innovation is never far away. Management also has plans to further secure the company footprint in United Sates and Asia-Pacific markets to bolster the existing European and African presence- a plan backed by their consistent annual growth of approximately 10% for the last half decade.
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AT A GLANCE
What: Manufacture and distribution of automotive testing and diagnostic products
Where: AutoTest Products is headquartered in Melbourne, Australia