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VOSA to get more bullish about system

Almost a third of Britain’s 19,000 vehicle test stations are now hooked up to a computerized MoT system. The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) claims most problems have been cured and the majority of operators are happy.

This will need to be the case because it’s about to introduce automatic test lanes (ATLs) this September. These one-man operations are hoped to aid efficiency and cut garage costs. But adoption of ATLs is not compulsory and VOSA admits it has no idea how strong take-up will be.

Its specifications, which include automatic wheel play detectors and roller testers, are both rigid and, potentially, costly. Again, it is the high volume VTs who are likely to be first with ATLs in significant numbers, and the first to complain if snags appear.

MAHA UK is one of the first suppliers to have its ATL equipment approved by the Garage Equipment Association and VOSA for both class IV and VII tests. The company has already installed 100 one-man ATLs.

Managing director Gus Gregory says: “We offer a full workshop design programme to ensure the layout meets VOSA specification and can be used for the approval. An ATL can be a large investment for a workshop, so it is important that the equipment is both reliable and the whole life costs are low.”

MAHA’s approved test equipment includes: play detectors fitted to four-post, scissor, below floor or pit lifts; headlamp beam tester for new gas discharge and clear lens lights; weighing system; brake pedal depressor system.

VOSA has been under heavy fire from testers since announcing MoT computerization in 2001, first for delays in implementation and, more recently, for technical problems and poor back-up. A number of businesses have complained to AM about system crashes which prevented them from issuing MoT certificates.

Despite claims by high-throughput stations that the computerized test is too slow VOSA insists roll-out is going “pretty much as planned”.

“I don’t think we can ever say there won’t be more gremlins, but we are over the bulk of these,” says VOSA communications manager Simon Duffin. The agency’s own research shows the test takes three to four minutes longer than a standard MoT using the old system.

“We’re still running tests, but once we’ve passed the milestone of getting at least a third of VTSs signed up, I think we will be able to be more bullish about the system and show that the new test is not taking much longer than before. Certainly not the extra half hour or so that some had been saying,” Duffin says. “We’ve had some very positive feedback.”

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