When times change, the trick is different thinking 28 August 2014
So there's good news and bad news. The DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) is cutting costs at ATFs – Authorised Testing Facilities – by 3.5%, but it's raising fees at its own testing stations by 18.5%. Why? DVSA says that operators using ATFs should not have to contribute towards the upkeep of the government's estate.
Back on the good news theme, DVSA is delivering on its promise, with the first group of vehicle inspectors already irtec accredited, having completed their IMI Quality Assured Award programme under IRTE (Institute of Road Transport Engineers) guidance, which grants them full licences to test vehicles. But the less good news for some: transport operators and individuals – including fleet engineers and technicians – will find themselves subject to a more robust law enforcement regime, with tougher penalties and swifter action from DVSA and the traffic commissioners for those found failing to meet their compliance obligations (page 30).
This theme of change is evident at the engineering and policy levels, too, with, for example, TfL (Transport for London) pushing for an extended Safer Lorries Scheme, which will almost certainly see trucks banned from the capital 24/7, if they aren't fitted with sideguards and safety mirrors. And that same organisation is currently trialling proximity sensors and cameras, designed to detect cyclists and pedestrians in blind spots, and warn drivers in real time. They're currently on a few buses in known hot spots, but the writing must be on the proverbial wall.
Add in Euro 6, and its associated maintenance issues yet to come, plus ongoing developments with AMTs (automated manual transmissions), dual-clutch system launches and turbo retarder clutches (page 27) and it's clear that, as an industry, we are experiencing what are often refered to as challenging times. Even fuels and lubricants aren't safe (pages 12 and 33).
All the more reason, then, to sign up for the IRTE Conference on 17 September, which this year moves to St George's Park, Burton upon Trent – home of the English Football Association. Delegates will hear from leading transport engineers, fleet managers and other industry heavyweights, all focusing on these key issues for today. Among highlights will be: dual-fuel technologies, with the latest from the two-year Low Carbon Trucks trial; an update on Euro 6 engine and after-treatment maintenance; how to specify trucks for minimum total cost and maximum productivity; the power of modern synthetic lubricants to reduce fuel consumption; and why EC Whole Vehicle Type Approval is about to change bodybuilding for everyone.
This year, the IRTE Conference also includes a staged public inquiry, presided over by traffic commissioner Kevin Rooney, with a legal team from Backhouse Jones. This is your chance to witness how it works, and to understand what you need to do to avoid the real thing. Also new for this year are in-depth streams covering legal/compliance (DVSA and traffic commissioner updates, law enforcement and legal trends), fuel saving aids (telematics, aerodynamics, driver behaviour, etc), and bus and coach engineering (hybrids and electrics; design and maintenance for fire prevention; and the pros and cons of biofuels and fuel additives).
Don't miss out. Spaces are limited and this is your professional engineering institution.
Brian Tinham BSc CEng MInstMC FSOE FIPlantE FIRTE
Department for Transport
Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA)
Society of Operations Engineers
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