Glitches in the Computerised Future of the MOT
In light of the recent ‘Which?’ report criticising the quality of MOT testing the emphasis has once again been drawn to what the industry and government can do to improve standards. Computerisation appears to be the government’s answer to improving the quality of the MOT test, but what will this mean for those at the sharp end of MOT testing?
Industry members are becoming increasingly concerned by the imminent arrival of MOT computerisation. However, government association representatives have contradicted these uncertainties by claiming that historically this was not the view of the trade. The Vehicle Operating Service Agency maintains that computerisation was introduced in accordance with the trade’s past response that it was the answer to improving the standards of the MOT test. Whichever side of the argument you are on one thing is certain – MOT computerisation is underway and will set the standard for future changes to build upon.
VOSA has been condemned for continuously delaying the delivery of the computerised system, and this in itself is increasing concerns about the system’s impact on businesses. The official line is that testing of the computerised system has been delayed by “slippage in SBS software.” VOSA spokesperson Miranda Roberts explained: “We have completed trial stage one of the introduction process and are currently installing the equipment into five test stations and 38 MOT garages. We will then begin a wider roll out involving more stations before the system goes live before the end of the year.” The agency predicts the roll out will take about six months to complete. The agency openly admits that some garages are experiencing problems with the software, and so VOSA is trying to make sure the equipment “fulfils all the requirements and is as effective as possible.”
When the system is cleared of all its glitches all 19,000 MOT testing stations will be provided with PCs, monitors and printers, and gas analysers will be fitted with a smart card reader. The equipment will be connected to a central database of vehicle information, test results and details of authorised examiners and testers. Access to the system is designed for authorised users only, via electronic smart cards and a password, however anyone with any computer experience knows how hard this method of security is to maintain in a hectic and pressurised work place.
The majority of mechanics disapprove of computerisation because of the cost and the fact that it has been forced on them, but more simply because it means change. Upgrading equipment will be a cost they didn’t budget for, although installation of the equipment is free, the consequences such as updating equipment are not.