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VBRA backs probe into repair times

An international investigation by the AIRC Research Centre into inaccurate repair times quoted by estimating systems is hoped to rectify more than 200 reported anomalies within 12 months.

Work has already begun on exploring issues raised about the widely-adopted Audatex system, and according to Ron Nicholson, director general of the Vehicle Builders and Repairers Association, one of the six trade organisations in Europe backing the AIRC probe, results can be expected “almost immediately”.

“It’s looking very positive, in fact Audatex are working very closely with us to eliminate any errors,” says Nicholson. “The aim is to bring the repair times up to an acceptable level. Professional repair work is only possible if it generates realistic remuneration and the estimating systems calculate repair times which allow high quality repairs.”

Nicholson says repairers have been “struggling” because of apparent inaccuracies in times quoted by manufacturers for repairs which, according to the VBRA, can be out by as much as 22% on average.

“We’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” says Nicholson. “If we don’t address the situation then the quality of work will suffer as a consequence. It could eventually lead to a resurgence of back street operations as businesses lack the finances for investment.”

The VBRA and similar trade bodies in Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Holland and Switzerland have urged members to notify them of apparent errors, which will be passed on to the AIRC for analysis.

If the actions specified by the manufacturer for a repair fail to correspond to the actions necessary in practice, and the repair time differs, AIRC will request adjustments to the repair time. Once the Audatex examination is complete, other estimating systems will be assessed, including Thatcham Times. AIRC expects to clear up 200 errors a year.

Audatex UK, which has 70% market share, this month filed net retained profits up 355% to £1.16m for the year ending June 30, 2003. It is co-operating with the study and has supplied the VBRA with a free AudaWorkstation. Sharon Wiggins, marketing manager, says: “We think the quality of data is very high and we have checking systems in place, but in the UK alone we have more than 100,000 model derivatives in our system, so we accept there will occasionally be anomalies.”

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