Quality street

Ian Gillgrass looks at how the recent MOT changes mean a Quality Management System is essential

Published:  25 July, 2018

The MOT has gone through change over the past few years. There have been changes in the way the MOT tester and the MOT Centre Manager become eligible to operate a Vehicle Testing Station (VTS) through the qualifications that are available through various national and local training organisations,  through to the MOT tester having to manage their own Annual Training and the Annual Assessment.

In combination with the revised MOT Inspection Manual (aligning to the European Directive) being implemented during May 2018, some confusion may exist in this ever changing sector.

The VTS has several people roles that exist, one major role; the Authorised Examiner (AE) or Authorised Examiner Designated Manager (AEDM) being the person having the ultimate responsibility within the business.

A new VTS and those  changing their approved status will need an AE/AEDM to hold the Level 3 Award in MOT Test Centre Management prior to the VTS becoming approved by DVSA. Most training providers will deliver the MOT Centre Manager qualification. Part of the qualification is that the person understands how to operate a Quality Management System (QMS) for the purposes of the VTS. This has been identified as an area that most people struggle with within the qualification.

To implement an effective QMS program, the business must initially internally agree the standards that they set. The results are then collected and reported into the QMS. Any problem should have a corrective action. This should be written with an indication the people responsible to carry out the action along with a completion date. If the same problem repeats, then a plan should be developed to improve the situation, and put into action.

The following highlights a few areas that where the QMS needs to focus.

Training
The AE should ensure all staff (employees and contractors) fully understand their responsibilities. This enables them to carry out their job accurately and remain compliant with the necessary requirements.

The MOT tester should ensure that they meet the requirements of the MOT tester Annual Training and Annual Assessment. This year the annual training includes updating their knowledge of the MOT Inspection Manual which was introduced in May 2018. Most MOT testers will be familiar with the revisions and updates to the MOT Inspection Manual, either through specific training prior to the changes or reviewing the Inspection Manual during its implementation stages.

The AE should also ensure that the MOT testers that carry out tests at the VTS, are compliant with the requirements. Failure to do so will result in the MOT tester unable to test vehicles. It should be noted that some MOT testers that have not met the requirements have taken many weeks to become reinstated as an MOT tester as a result of non compliance which could reduce business income.

At present there is no requirement for the MOT Centre Manager to comply with the updating of their MOT knowledge but this could change in the near future.

Procedures
The AE should ensure that everyone involved in the MOT testing process within their business has access to key information, especially focusing on MOT test logs and MOT Test Quality Information (TQI).

TQI can be accessed by both the AE and also the MOT tester, reviewing the MOT test data applicable to their role. The data can indicate both strengths and weaknesses with the MOT testers and the VTS, it is therefore important that this data is regularly reviewed to identify any anomalies within the data and implement an ‘action plan’ to correct any deficiencies, therefore both the MOT tester and the AE have a responsibility in this area.

MOT TQI was highlighted as a requirement for the MOT tester annual training/annual assessment. It is therefore suggested that the MOT Centre Manager also updates their knowledge on Test Quality Information (TQI) and also MOT test logs.

The AE should ensure that the relevant people know procedures for the reporting of equipment defects/problems, the equipment maintenance and any equipment calibration requirements within the specified dates as indicated by the MOT Testing Guide. The AE must ensure that any appropriate records (calibration certificates) are kept and the records are held securely.
The AE should always ensure that the equipment is maintained and calibrated correctly, if a problem is detected (yes things do go wrong) preferable before a breakdown occurs then a clear process should be identified and the rectification of the equipment recorded.

Assurance
The MOT tests which are carried out at the VTS must always have the correct result, the security of data, information and passwords are maintained which will lead to the reduction in risk of MOT fraudulent activity. The protection of data used in the MOT process needs to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which was also introduced in May 2018 replacing the Data Protect Action (DPA) that previously covered the data. The AE has a duty to ensure this has been complied with.
The process should also include a Quality Control process of the MOT tester to ensure that they produce satisfactory results, and to identify any future weaknesses in their MOT test procedures.

The MOT Testing Guide (updated earlier this year) indicates that a QC check needs to be performed on an MOT tester every two months. Best practice would indicate that the QC process is completed on each MOT tester more frequently such as every month. The QC check should be recorded and kept in-line with the requirements. The QC report should indicate the strengths and weaknesses of each individual (not just indicating the MOT tester is OK) with an ‘action plan’ (further training etc) on how to reduce the weaknesses. The next month Quality Control report should then indicate how the MOT tester has performed against the ‘action plan’. This could help to reduce the VTS risk score, improving MOT tester performance but also increase business performance.
Performing and recording quality control checks within an MOT business can be time consuming and often gets forgotten. The person carrying out the MOT QC must be carried out by an approved DVSA MOT tester. The QC can be achieved within the MOT testing team providing more than one MOT tester is engaged (one MOT Tester is nominated as the QC) or alternatively a service that an outside agency could provide. A Vehicle Testing Station with only one MOT tester could have a reciprocal arrangement with a nearby similar business by carrying out the QC check on each other.

Improvement
An effective QMS used within the VTS should identify any weaknesses that could put the station at risk. Once a weakness has been identified the business should develop an action plan to improve within the area of weakness. This will typically lead to an improvement.

All these points will help to achieve a low VTS risk score. The MOT centre manager should read and understand the various documents provided free by the DVSA on how to carry out a VTS risk assessment and to hopefully reduce the VTS risk score.
The AE can find out more on the qualification by contacting a recognised training provider delivering the MOT Centre Manager Qualification, this will help them better understand the requirements of a Vehicle Testing Station and the various MOT Testing documents and standards associated with MOT testing. Many of these requirements have been revised over the last few years, and it is a requirement for the AE to constantly update their knowledge to remain current. Remember the MOT Testing Guide was revised in early 2018 and many AEs do not have knowledge of the new requirements.

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  • Facing a new Brexit world  

    Facing a new Brexit world in the automotive aftermarket was the overarching theme of the IAAF Conference 2017, held just before Christmas.

    There is nothing particularly festive, or easy, about reversing out of the world’s largest free-trade area without mirrors, so keeping a clear head is vital.

    IAAF CEO Wendy Williamson’s opening remarks were as clear headed as you could wish for. They had a Yuletide feel, themed around the 12 days of Christmas. Among the issues covered were Brexit, emissions, the proposed MOT changes, automotive technology, consumer lifestyle changes.. On tech, Wendy observed: “Automotive technology is moving at a rapid pace, and this is yet another challenge we have to face.” Talking about lifestyle changes, she said: “Consumer expectations are changing, ownership patterns are changing, and there are new entrants to the sector like Google and Apple, along with changes to the distribution structure.

    "With reference to impact of Brexit, Wendy said: “What a journey we have ahead of us. I don’t think anyone thought it was going to be easy, but now we know how difficult the process will be.” On emissions, Wendy commented: “Yes, older vehicles emit NOx, and yes some manufacturers were less than honest, but we were encouraged to buy them. Cars with newer Euro 6 engines are much cleaner, and yet diesels are demonised in the press. Meanwhile ships, planes, wood-burning stoves are all far worse for the environment. We need a concerted effort to confront this.”

    “The UK’s infrastructure cannot support a  major move away from the internal combustion engine,” she added.

    On industry as a whole, Wendy highlighted the resilience of the aftermarket: “We must continue to invest in equipment and training to stay ahead.  All we ask for is a level playing field and the ability to continue to access information. There is a role for our industry in the future, and that future is bright despite the challenges we face.”

    Economy
    Following the introduction to the morning session by F1 legend Johnny Herbert, the first presentation of the day provided an opportunity to re-examine the impact the aftermarket has on the overall economy. Dr Julia Saini, vice president consulting at Frost & Sullivan looked at the importance of the UK aftermarket to the UK economy and the impact of Brexit on the sector.
    On the economy, citing the SMMT figures launched earlier this year at Automechanika Birmingham, Dr Saini said: “2016 was another year of growth, up 2.4% to 21.6bn, delivering £12.5bn to the economy and an extra 1,400 jobs.”

    On Brexit, she commented: “The impact of the decision could be manifold. Consumer impact could be higher prices for parts and decreased spending on car maintenance. Introduction of WTO trade rules and tariffs of between 2% and 4.5% on imported components would have an impact.

    “The current lack of clarity between the UK and EU is another area of concern to us. The aftermarket is suffering from a considerable trade imbalance – it imports twice as much as it exports.” It was not all bad news however: “Although we are running a trade imbalance, the UK is delivering a wide variety of parts and components into Europe and other markets like Asia.
    If UK companies could compete on price there are opportunities for the sector in emerging markets.”

    "Moving onto e-retailing trends, Dr Saini commented: “It is likely even more consumers will buy parts online.”

    On the evolution in personal mobility, Dr Saini said: “The way we are using cars is changing. Car sharing and e-hailing could remove up to 460,000 cars from UK roads by 2025.  Businesses should capitalise on this and target car sharing and e-hailing operators as potential new customers for the aftermarket. Also, working with fleet companies enables businesses to service more vehicles, and also offer some fleet operators who in-source servicing significant savings. It is worth looking into which companies have in-sourced capacity that cannot meet the demand and make an offer.”

    In conclusion, looking ahead at the need for the renewal of the workforce and the entry of new talent to the sector, Dr Saini added: “The industry  must work with schools and government to attract more young people to the industry.”

    Next up was Quentin Le Hetet, general manager at GIPA, who was examining the impact of global influences on the UK aftermarket.

    Looking at global sales trends, Quentin compared the 137.9% growth in car registrations in China between 2011 and 2017 with the situation in Europe. “Every year, 25m new cars are registered in China. That’s almost the equivalent of the entire UK car parc, every year.”

    In the same period, the whole of Europe saw a 3.7% increase. “The car market we are in is not going to greatly increase in future.”
    On Britain, Quentin said: “UK registrations are dropping. This is the only G5 country seeing a decrease. This means the UK car parc is not going to grow as fast as it used to. It’s not a threat, but it means the average age of cars is going to increase from 7.6 years upwards.

    “The attraction of the franchised sector is going to decrease, and this is good news for the aftermarket.”

    Consolidation
    Quentin’s next topic was the wave of ownership changes still washing across the parts supply sector. Looking at the major factor chains in Britain, he commented: “It is interesting to note that three of them are owned by North American parents, and that two of those have been bought out in the last year. They are part of a consolidation trend that is going on at a European level.”
    Looking for a reason behind the Atlantic crossing taking place, Quentin mused: “In North America, a lot is done by the driver, where in Europe it is done by professionals. This is why there is a lot of interest – more margin. Britain is a gateway to Europe as well, as English is spoken.”

    Quentin then covered the growth of garage schemes and soft franchises. While Britain is still some way behind the continent in this area, Quentin thought they offered some advantages: “I think the benefit of the schemes is that they make the garage more professional.”

    Labour rates were up next, and Quentin pointed out that while franchised dealers, Autocentres and fast-fits had all seen labour rates rise since 2012, independent rates had actually dropped. “Many independents gauge their labour rate by seeing what their local competition is charging, and then charging £2 less per hour. This shows the kind of support businesses need.”
    This is a challenge for the wider industry too: “How can we sustain
    the sector and provide support and training to help the sector stay in business?”

    Online service providers
    The challenges didn’t stop in the next session, as Alistair Preston, co-founder at whocanfixmycar.com contextualised the rise of online service providers and showed how garages can increase their customer base by taking the leap.

    “The UK consumer is a big car of aggregators, and we have the insurance sector to thank for that. There is an ongoing willingness
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    Commenting on the success of their offering, Alistair observed: “If the garage is paying us money, then their workshops are full of
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    Alistair went on to point out how garages are making the most of the site, along with industry partners like  parts suppliers. In some cases they are working with garages to promote specialists in certain areas: “This evolution of independent garages getting smarter and more organised is only going to increase.”

    Right2Choose
    The IAAF’s Mike Smallbone followed, and he provided information on Right2Choose, and highlighted how the campaign will be kicking up a gear in 2018. “The issue is who has the right to service and repair the vehicle in the warranty period, and is also about who has the right to receive data. Right2Choose is all about choice,” Mike added. “If the consumer wants to go to the dealer, then they will. We want to make sure they know they have the choice.”
     
    Clearly we will be hearing more about this. Watch this space.

    Developments
    After lunch, a change of lane as Olaf Henning, corporate executive vice president at Mahle, showed how F1 technology is being used to drive parts developments in the aftermarket.

    “What is important is how we use motorsport as a laboratory,” said Olaf. He cited the steel piston the company developed in 2008, that was used in a Le Mans car in 2009 and by 2015 was in series production. “This was in less than a decade. It does not always go this way but shows what can happen.”

    Looking at the drivetrain, Olaf cited Mahle’s dual strategy on the issue of EVs and the internal combustion engine: “Do we need EVs that can drive 500kms? I don’t think so. I think we will see drivetrains being more diverse rather than either-or.”

    Future technology
    Staying with technology, IMI chief executive Steve Nash was up next. Commenting on the proposed phasing out of conventional petrol and diesel systems by 2040 at home and abroad, Steve tended towards cautious scepticism. On the potential impact  on garages, he said: “There will undoubtedly be a change in the market. I do believe there will be more call for people to specialise. If you are a small garage then there will be an advantage to be part of a larger network.”

    On the government’s attitude to the EV challenge, Steve said: “They are looking at infrastructure, but the one thing they are not looking at is skills.”

    Looking at possible threats ahead Steve said: “There is very little money in selling new cars. The margins are razor thin. All the money is in used cars and aftersales. It is a very important part of the business.”

    He then went on to examine how different ownership models for vehicles could put manufacturers firmly in the driving seat: “The future sales model would give them a lot of power over the aftermarket if they kept ownership of the vehicles.”

    The last speaker of the day prior to summing up by IAAF president Lawrence Bleasdale was Figiefa technical director and long-term Aftermarket contributor Neil Pattemore. He looked at the latest technical threats emerging from the UK and Europe. Access to the OBD port, the wider issue of access to technical information, the machinations of Type Approval and many other issues were covered.

    “It has been one of the most challenging and most difficult of the seven years I have been in Brussels” said Neil, who went on to discuss the gains the organisation has made on behalf of the sector during the year, and where the sector was winning back some ground.”

    With that closing statement from Lawrence Bleasdale, the conference ended on a positive note.




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