Visit to Top Quality Motors – Ruiru Town
In line with a vital objective of AFRICA-ai-JAPAN Project of linking Industry and the University in sharing and dissemination of indigenous knowledge thereby fostering Innovation and Research, Innovation Prototyping Integrated Centre(iPIC) sub-taskforce made a visit to Top-Quality Motors-Ruiru in a bid to identify areas in the Automotive industry that would offer basis for linkages.
With the facilitation of both the University and the project office, members of the sub-taskforce together with representatives of other sub-taskforces were hosted by one of JKUAT’s alumni that has traveled far and wide, Eng. Bernard Ngore. The following are details of the visit:
Objectives of the visit
- Know the location and familiarize with activities of the company
- Identify joint proposals for funding
- Initiate structured mechanisms for collaboration
- Identify areas of collaboration & partnership
Top Quality Team Members
- Bernard Ngore – Managing Director
- Joyce Kavita – Marketing Manager
- Hellen Njuguna – Financial Director
JKUAT Team Members
- Hiram N. Ndiritu – Team Leader (iPIC)
- P. Home – iPIC
- Justus Onguso – iCB
- James Mutua – iPIC
- Sing’ombe – iCB
- Daniel Omondi – iPIC
- Shohei Aoki – AFRICA-ai-JAPAN Project (iPIC)
- Kiboi – iCMoB
- Caroline Oywer – iPDEC
- Ben Maniafu – iPIC
- Shem Kariuki – iPIC
Top Quality Motors limited is a leading motor vehicle repair company in Kenya, and a member of the Kenya Motor Vehicle Repairers Association (KMVRA) that has over 160 active members. The umbrella body, (KMVRA), is an association of inspected and accredited Motor Repair Centers in Kenya. Top Quality Motors has its main garage at Thika Road, next to Safari Park Hotel, and a second branch, which was visited by the JKUAT team, located at Ruiru Town – 500m off Nairobi-Thika superhighway. The company is ISO 9001:2015 certified and also recognized by the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing, Urban Development, and Public Works for its contributions in the transport sector.
The premise is well designed with administrative activities area separate from the workshops. Main sections include wheel balancing bay, undercarriage inspection bay, high pressure washing bay, repair bays, battery charging station, parts store and spray-painting booth. Currently, the company has a number of staffs in administrative, support and technical category, which include mechanics, panel beaters, spray painters, and auto-electricians.
Services offered by the company include car diagnosis, spray painting, buffing, panel beating, mechanical repairs, and wheel alignment. Its clients include individuals and corporate organizations. The company is also very supportive of trainees and students by offering them industrial attachment – JKUAT has benefited a lot from this gesture, especially for mechanical engineering students.
Before the facility walk, a session with the Top-Quality Motors Managing Director Eng. Bernard Ngore and his team on one side, and Dr. Eng. Hiram Ndiritu and JKUAT team on the other, had a consultative meeting where presentations were made from both sides, and the objectives of the visit highlighted.
The facility walk covered all the sections of the company, under the guidance of the Managing Director. Particular areas of interest included the following;
- wheel balancing bay where computerized wheel balancing is carried out;
- undercarriage inspection bay where vehicles undergo undercarriage inspection;
- repair bays where repairs and maintenance are carried out;
- high pressure washing bay where vehicle cleaning is done prior to spray painting, and after service;
- parts store where new share parts are stored. The storage area also has a special designated section handling auto paint and colour matching. The process is digitized and the operator is capable of accurately matching the paint with the colour of the vehicle to be spray painted.
- spray painting booth where vehicles are coated with special automotive paint in a process that guarantees operator safety and protection from environmental pollution. Very few KMVRA members have installed such an important facility – the spray-painting booth, and the teams agreed that some help could come from JKUAT in adopting and popularizing this technology among the KMVRA membership. Top Quality Motors and JKUAT teams to work on a joint proposal for funding for the development of spray-painting booths.
- used spare parts that the government had banned importation of. The JKUAT team was taken through a number of vehicle spare parts of which importation had been banned, that could be produced locally. These included rubber bushes, disk and drum brake lining assemblies, and hose pipes.
A wrap-up meeting was held after the facility walk, with output as indicated in the sections below:
Potential Collaborations areas (Top Quality Motors and JKUAT)
- The company had a wide network of collaborators in the motor industry (over 160 members of the KMVRA) which the Managing Director of Top-Quality Motors Eng. Ngore had influence over, and which could be used to strengthen the University-Industry linkage in the Motor Industry.
- Manufacture of selected spare parts could be explored as one of the collaborative ventures with JKUAT.
- Short courses and skills upgrading program for artisans in electrical and hybrid vehicles by JKUAT, which could be replicated in all the 160 members of the KMVRA. This could be implemented periodically to bring the targeted group at par with changes in the auto industry.
- Short courses and skills upgrading programs in mechatronics and computer-aided diagnostics of different car models, for artisans in the motor industry.
- Development of simulation software for driver training for motor cycle and other classes of vehicles. This is meant to minimize the impact to road users of injuries and deaths due to unavoidable accidents, and to inculcate good driving culture among drivers. The software can then be taken for approval by the Ministry of Transport for approval and eventual use in all driving schools in Kenya.
- JKUAT to work with industrial players to design and implement a properly structured industrial attachment program for university students. This may need to be ratified and approved by the Engineers Board of Kenya and the Institute of Engineers of Kenya to formalize it so as to be used across the board in ensuring quality training objectives and outcomes, and improve eligibility for registration with the professional bodies.
Top Quality Motors Ruiru has designed an industrial attachment program for University and college students. This is a good initiative by the company. However, no input has been given by the University (JKUAT), and this was identified as an area that required attention. The company had in the past given industrial attachment opportunities to engineering students from the College of Engineering and Technology (COETEC) – specifically mechanical and mechatronic engineering students – chances to have the mandatory hands-on experience for a period of eight weeks. Eng. Ngore assured the JKUAT team of his continued support in providing industrial attachment opportunities to COETEC students.