Auto Recycling World spoke to Johan Renaud, Head of Development at Groupe-Gpa, an auto recyclers based in France about how the company’s recent investment will have a major impact on its vehicle recycling operation through software development.
Johan, for those who don’t know about Groupe-Gpa, could you provide us with a little about the company’s background?
Groupe-GPA was founded in 1962 by Edward and Léone Renaud, my grandparents. The company was established in Livron-sur-Drôme, a small town between Lyon and Avignon, in France. In the very beginning, my grandpa recycled used oil and rags, but it wasn’t long until he transformed the business into vehicle dismantling.
As a family-owned business, the company has gone through many changes by second and third generations. I am happy to be part of the third generation and have been managing the development of Groupe GPA since 2008.
Bringing us up to date, Groupe-GPA has recently invested in a state-of-the-art vehicle dismantling system. It can be best described as a vehicle manufacturing plant but in reverse. Can you expand on this?
Indeed, Groupe GPA invested €25 million into a new facility, the main goal was to streamline vehicle recycling operations and improve working conditions for co-workers and gain operational efficiencies.
Going back a little, when was the seed planted to develop such a system, and why was it decided that such development was the correct step to make?
The main idea transpired in 2008 following the financial crisis. At that time, we started to think about our development and how we could become stronger in our markets.
In France, the model of end-of-life vehicle (ELV) companies relies mainly on salvage vehicle sales, and the recycling activity is more complementary. The crisis has strengthened this distortion in our model, it was then urgent to think about making the recycling activity profitable with automotive spare parts and raw materials. We came to the conclusion that only volumes would make this activity profitable, and to treat volumes at scale, we need a factory. Prior to this, for several years, we tried various set-ups, we also developed our proprietary software before clearly defining the outlines of the project.
In 2016, we decided we were ready and launched our project officially. The construction began in 2018, and it will be fully finished by mid-2021.
Maybe an obvious question, but what advantages has this system brought to the company?
We expanded our storage facilities for vehicles outside and covered them with solar panels. It certainly helps to gain operational efficiencies, especially during the winter period with artificial lighting. The factory helped us to improve our production ratios and sustain the digitizing trend of the market. We have also maintained our efforts in terms of software development to create a full-stack solution covering the different steps of our process, which include production, storage, sales, after-sales, quality, etc … I must say that this will help to change the image of our industry and will enable us to hire top executive profiles. With these investments, Groupe GPA will become a leader in OE recycled parts production and sales (especially on digital channels).
Can it be described that with such development Groupe-GPA is future-proofing themselves, and are we seeing the future of the modern vehicle dismantling facility?
Such a project requires lots of time to be fully operational, it is evolving constantly. We are still testing a lot of things now. Time will certainly tell us if we are right as the project is not fully completed. I would like to add that our peers are welcome to come and visit our company to make their own idea about it!
To find out more about Groupe-GPA, visit www.gpa26.com