Work in Progress: Workshop trends amid regulation

In the context of rising regulation of the commercial vehicle segment in UAE, PMV looks at the aftermarket trends in the sphere of workshop procurement, certification and service



Workshops in the UAE will soon be inspected and rated under a system being developed by the Emirates Standardisation and Metrology Authority.

ESMA’s planned regulatory framework will set a minimum requirement in terms of skills of mechanics and service standards for a workshop to operate, according to Abdullah Al Muaini, director-general for the public body.

Al Muaini stated: “We will first look at the level of the standards at the workshops to ascertain whether they meet the minimum requirements. If they don’t, then we will give them a grace period to improve their service.

“Our aim is to categorise and classify all workshops across the country. We will certify them, examine and certify the mechanics who work at these workshops and then rate these units according to the skills possessed by the employees who work in the workshops and the equipment the workshops possess.”

The system will be ready by the end of this year, when it will be sent for cabinet approval.

At the same time, Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) is carrying out its own study on automotive workshops in the emirate in preparation for its own planned regulation of the segment, for both the passenger and commercial vehicle segments.

“We are going ahead with our study and our preparation to have auto workshops regulated. We are aware of ESMA’s initiative and we are happy to coordinate with them to have a single system for the entire country or linking our system to theirs,” said Ahmad Hashem Behroozian, CEO of RTA’s licensing agency.

“This is a massive industry and the work we will be doing is comprehensive: we will have to deal ever type of workshops, from the smallest shack carrying out a tyre service to corporate style workshops with multiple facilities.”

He added that regulating this sector is very important as it deals with the maintenance of vehicles which, in turn, impacts road safety.

Tyre wear is one of the most important issues: a recent survey conducted by Bridgestone Middle East and Africa indicated that 65%, or almost two-thirds, of all Dubai drivers neglect tyre safety and did not check the condition of their vehicles’ tyres regularly.

Behroozian elaborated by noting that a highly rated tyre can save up to 20% of fuel, compared to a ‘very poor’ rated tyre, which will use more fuel than a vehicle is normally supposed to consume.

According to Al Muaini, the technical requirements are approved by GCC and ESMA’s board of directors, and the rating system will be enforced starting from January 2017.

The RTA’s regulatory framework could also be ready as early as January, and be incorporated into the licensing framework.

The RTA’s study is being carried out by Dubai-based fleet management firm and workshop equipment and service distributor Automotive Management Service (AMS).

Andrew Wilson, VP for the Middle East at AMS, said: “The garage classification and accreditation project that we have with the RTA will result in a company being tendered in future to conduct annual classifications and accreditations for the 1,400 vehicle workshops in Dubai.”

“We have provided a report to the RTA on a sample of 301 garages of the 1,400 — so an assessment of where they’re at just now, and based on where the RTA want to get to (they want to have a minimum standard by 2020), we’ve now encapsulated all of those requirements into a classification and accreditation scheme.”

For AMS’ distribution business, the main clients are the dealer level workshops or the Tier 3 operators just below the dealer level.

Wilson notes: “The main products that we have in terms of manufacturers would be the HBA, which are the tyre-equipment, Texa diagnostic equipment, which would also include the AC machines, and then you would have the KS tool range. From the analysis of the 300 — taking that as your sample — we would probably appeal to 20% of the market.”

AMS provides Komatsu heavy equipment dealer Galadari with KS tools, which it has laser etched and installed at nine workshop stations.

Wilson continues: “TAG, the armoured group based in RAK, ia also a big client of ours — we basically helped them design their entire new production facility, from autoCAD designs to what tools and equipment they needed and where to install the compressors, and then we supplied them the equipment.”

Based on its 2014 acquisition of the Danish brake-test producer BM Autoteknik, AMS already has test lines running with both the RTA and in Abu Dhabi with ADNOC, and has also provided the RTA a mobile testing facility.

In terms of the tender for the eventual classification and accreditation of workshops by the RTA, AMS is also well placed to implement the action plan of the framework it is helping to develop for Dubai — owing to its own accreditation with the UK-based Institute of Road Transport Engineers (IRTE).

One way or another, in less than a year or so, both Dubai and the UAE at large will be bringing in hard-hitting workshop regulation that will change the sector forever.

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PMV Middle East - September 2020

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