Safely dismantling hybrids: better safe than sorry
Electrical and hybrid cars are becoming increasingly popular among Dutch car owners. As a natural consequence, more cars of this kind are being received by car dismantling companies. Also against that background, ARN and Innovam last year developed a training programme to teach the necessary skills to the dismantling companies. The Rhenoy Group put an important lesson from this training programme into practice by calling in the assistance of ARN and the importer, for the dismantling of a Lexus CT 200h Hybrid.
The Rhenoy Group has seen clear evidence that relatively large numbers of hybrid and electrical cars have been sold in the Netherlands over the past few years. At the dismantling company, with locations in Almere, Rotterdam and elsewhere, cars featuring this still recent technology are regularly being received, for dismantling. Until now, the arrival of these vehicles represented no problem, but a severely damaged Lexus CT 200h Hybrid led the company to play safe and call in the assistance of ARN, who in turn made use of the knowledge and expertise of importer Louwman & Parqui. “The training programme for the dismantling of hybrids and electrical cars offered our service staff a solid grounding, but this was an unusual case,” explained Nick van Kessel of the Rhenoy Group.
According to manufacturers who are marketing vehicles with a hybrid or electrical drive system, the systems are able to resist even the most severe crashes. Given the huge damage suffered by the Lexus referred to above, this claim was certainly put to the test. “This car was so crumpled that we were unable to tell whether the various parts could be dismantled safely. Given the high voltages in a hybrid car, safety is of vital importance,” continued Van Kessel. “Following intervention by ARN, the importer offered us assistance in situ. They were able to teach us a great deal. The product manager demonstrated how to fully shut down the electrical system, and identified the measuring points we can use to check whether there are indeed no further live parts. Product-specific knowledge of that kind is essential for us. As a dismantling company, we are one of the links in a vehicle’s lifecycle, and for that reason, too, it is useful to be able to collaborate with the manufacturer or importer. It is crucial for us to be able to adapt our business processes to new technology, in good time. In our view, this was a dismantling project that went by the book.”
Rens Braat, Manager After Sales Service at Lexus importer Louwman & Parqui, is delighted with the initiative by ARN to offer guidance to dismantling companies as the need arises. “As an importer, we believe it is our responsibility to also carefully consider this part of the chain. From the point of view of safety, for example, we regularly provide information to the police and fire service on this specific subject. We are also pleased to assist dismantling companies. Our message is clear. We are dealing with high voltages that need to be handled carefully in the event of a collision and possible dismantling. If you take the necessary precautions, there is no reason whatsoever to fear this new technology. Nonetheless, there is a clear difference between normal dismantling and dismantling a vehicle following a major accident. For that reason, too, it is good to see that the confidence we have in our product is confirmed in practice.”
Together with the expertise and training centre Innovam, ARN developed a training programme last year for the dismantling of electrical and hybrid cars. The programme was launched at the start of 2013 and has enjoyed considerable popularity since that time. The direct cooperation between an importer and a dismantling company, however, is something new. “For us, results of this kind are the best possible outcome from the project,” suggested Rob van der Linden, chain manager and trainer at ARN. “In case of doubt, we always recommend participants in the training programme to play it safe, and to contact us. If necessary, we will then call in the importer for support. In this case, this approach worked perfectly and proved highly instructive for everyone involved.”
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