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Standards essential to open up green parts business

Driveshafts
If we want big business from garages and body shops, then it's up to us to get our act together,
The sale of second hand parts is a complicated business and the factors affecting it fall into a number of areas which we shall explore over the next few months. In this article we take look at the quality of our products and the standards we need to demonstrate it.


I don’t think any of us could argue that the potential to sell green parts for vehicle repairs is huge. Coupled to that we have a dwindling market in the private motorist who doesn’t share the same passion for fixing his motor as previous generations did. But motorists still want to keep the costs of motoring under control, even though it is the local garage (not themselves) that is often doing the repair. So in this climate of austerity, is the used parts market reaching its full potential? Many think that it’s the insurance industry or the garage trade that is at fault for not using our parts - wrong! .

They don’t buy the parts for a number of reasons but it boils down to a lack of confidence in quality, quantity and the industry. Sorry if they are harsh truths but why else would you not buy a product that is going to save you money? You may well be thinking, “Oh but my business is very professional” but that’s not the problem. Business sectors, as with countries are always represented by stereotypes, and for us I am afraid that’s still a problem.

OK, enough of putting us down. We all know that this huge potential for our industry exists and we all know we live in a climate of environmental awareness that should only play into our hands. Let’s face it, from an environmental standpoint, it’s very hard to argue against re-use; no manufacturing issues, no global transport issues and best of all no financial issues as the product is much cheaper than a new part. So it all comes back to this perception of our industry and our ability to meet the customers expectations.

The trouble is, to seriously expand the green parts business we must be able to supply parts on a national basis, on demand (which we shall look at next month). Not only that, the person ordering green parts for trade use needs to believe without any doubt in their mind, that the service and parts they receive will be up to standard, just as if they were ordering a new part. The key word here really is standard. Whatever we buy, we have an understanding of what standard we expect.

Many dismantling companies have very good standards and long-standing relationships with their local garage trade. That isn’t the issue here and please don’t think I am questioning the quality of anyone’s business. But the standard isn’t the same in all (or even a large number of) businesses and there is no recognised standard. Until there is, progress towards getting a much wider acceptance of used parts is going to be limited.

There are moves to establish a recognised national standard. The Motor Vehicle Dismantlers’ Association (MVDA) have held quite lengthy discussions with Thatcham about the idea of developing an industry wide set of standards for green parts. This might take the form of a PAS (publicly available specification) – but what does this mean?

By developing standards with someone like Thatcham you can be sure that it will be suitable for the vehicle repair industry. Thatcham provide a unique range of products and services to the insurance and motor repair industries. Primarily, they conduct research and produce data to assist in the efficient, safe and cost effective repair of motor vehicles with the aim to improve safety and security. By developing standards with an organisation capable of establishing & auditing standards (eg. BSI) would reduce the risk of variation between accredited dismantlers and gain a level of professional acceptability within the repair trade. In a nutshell, the repairers would have no reason to be concerned as to what they were going to receive when they order. If we can kill the quality fears then the focus will come down to cost savings and that’s where we really score!

There is a downside to all of this - money. The estimates to put this in place and to create the standard are around £40,000 - £50,000 and that’s money MVDA doesn’t have. That leaves the industry in bit of a quandary. If we want to really open up green parts to the wider market then we need to have this standard but the body that should be involved in the development doesn’t have the money to carry it out. It is possible that some of the larger companies could fund this, but the standard, once developed, needs to be both widely available & accepted by a large number of companies. This is because the product (motor vehicles for dismantling) are so widely spread through the industry – a few large players will just not have sufficient volume to make the system workable.

So, if we as an industry want this, then the money has to be found and it has to be done through an independent organisation, such as MVDA. Currently MVDA have around 200 members but there are around 2,000 ATFs and related businesses, so there is plenty of opportunity for the industry to generate the required funds. If only 100 of you joined up they would have the extra money to get this done. The trouble is that means that many of you non-members out there have got to put your hand in your pocket and come up with the £500 annual membership. Sorry if this sounds like a blatant plug, it isn’t but for £10 per week it sounds to me like agood deal. After 20 years involvement with this industry I can see a fantastic opportunity and if we don’t grasp it someone else will. It’s your future!

Building the Green Parts Market will be one of key themes at next year’s CARS, the Complete Auto Recycling and Show. Seminars, workshops and forums will take you through every aspect of this opportunity and help you join in the development of this incredible market that’s knocking on our doors. Pre-registration is now available on the site which entitles you to an earlybird discount when on-line payment opens later this month.

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