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Kitemark begins three-month pilot

The kitemark standard (PAS 125) for body repair has been delivered on time after nine months in development. It is available from British Standards Institute (BSI) as a 14-page booklet.

The new standard now goes into pilot for three months before a formal launch event in February 2007.

In what was described as a “mid-term review”, a joint presentation from Thatcham, which helped developed the standard, and BSI gave the rationale behind the standard. They paid tribute to those involved in “a standard written by the body repair industry for the body repair industry”.

Jason Moseley, director of quality and IT business systems at Thatcham, explained that the new standard began at an ABP Club meeting in early 2005. It led to a meeting with insurers and body repair industry representatives where all agreed on the need for a common standard.This ultimately led to the development of PAS 125 (Publicly Available Specification) by a 20-strong cross industry steering group of insurers, repairers, trade bodies, equipment suppliers, vehicle manufacturers, estimating system providers and parts suppliers.

PAS 125 is a technical specification dealing with processes and procedures directly related to the repair of accident damaged vehicles.

It is based on four key elements and sets down minimum requirements for each:

  • Man: personnel who can demonstrate the right skills and current competence
  • Machinery: appropriate, effective, well-maintained equipment with proven capability
  • Method: suitable repair methods available for the person doing the repair
  • Materials: good quality suitable repair materials

    Mike Pearson, head of projects for BSI, explained that the PAS was the first step towards achievement of the kitemark – which he described as: “A superbrand that achieves 82% public recognition, with 69% willing to pay a premium for a kitemarked product.”

    BSI and Thatcham have begun the process of training the first group of BSI auditors for the new standard.

    When quizzed, Pearson would only say that they expected a “significant number” in the first year; however, their target is 2,000 bodyshops within the first two or three years.

    To achieve the kitemark a repairer has to demonstrate conformity with PAS 125 through an initial audit arranged by BSI.

    This includes an audit of the vehicle repair process and related activities. Thereafter, kitemark licensees are subject to surveillance by BSI to ensure that standards are maintained with twice yearly surprise visits.

    Pierre Lefèvre, chairman of Thatcham, describes PAS 125 as “the most important initiative in crash repair for over a decade”.

    He adds: “It will enable us to clearly demonstrate to the FSA that we are treating customers fairly by making it a requirement of all our repairers to achieve the Thatcham kitemark.”

    He issued a battle cry to all insurers that “they must show commitment and get behind the standard”.

    Phil Gledhill, chief engineer of Norwich Union, added his support saying: “Norwich Union are 100% behind this initiative.”

    Gledhill thinks it might take up to three years to get all Norwich Union approved bodyshops up to the standard, adding: “We need the comfort of having our approved bodyshops with the kitemark.”

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