Not one but two major changes for truck and van body repairers, with the launch of a new commercial vehicle standard, and the revision of another light vehicle standard. Will Dalrymple reports


The process to develop the first standard for commercial vehicle repair began before the pandemic, according to Thomas Hudd, national technical manager at vehicle body repair trade association NBRA. He says: “A number of influential truck body repairers met to discuss how car repairers have had a higher profile and greater retention than those in the truck world. We felt that they were getting more recognition because of BS10125. And there was no formal standard for CV body repair, which includes trucks and vans of medium volume, buses and coaches.

“One of the issues we’re facing is that some accident management and insurance companies want to put commercial vehicles into light body shops, where the rates are lower, but the shops don’t have the competencies – nor do they have the equipment, jigs and high-roof paint ovens.”

He expands on that point: “Truck workshops are entirely different to car and van workshops – different equipment, different attitudes, different staff, and in some cases different requirements for training. There are different sizes of ovens and cab jigs. There are different technologies, such as air brakes on commercials. There is no specific method agreed for [repair of] the ladder chassis; that requires specialist knowledge.”

Adds Gerry Braddock, national manager of NBRA subsidiary, VBRA Commercial: “We want to avoid the situation that some people find themselves in now where the truck comes in for repair, the company that it has gone into knows they can’t do it, so subcontracts the work. Or they don’t repair it properly.”

Two body repair competence standards currently exist: BS10125, for light vehicles up to 5t gvw, which is currently in revision (see below), and the coach builder trade-specific route through the Level 3 bus and coach engineering technician apprenticeship (which is also being reviewed).

As to the latter, Braddock contends that commercial vehicle body repair competencies were not properly considered when the trailblazer bus and coach apprenticeship was being developed. “The bus and coach industry rode roughshod over everyone else to get what they wanted. Neither do we have a bodybuilder standard.”

Aiming to help bridge the gap is a new truck body repair standard,VBRA Elite. This defines minimum competences and organises qualifications for individuals in structural repair (chassis and cab) of trucks and vans. Four qualifications are available: Truck & Van repair (structural with cab and chassis repair); Truck repair (structural with cab and chassis repair); Van repair (structural with chassis repair); Truck & Van (non-structural).

“With this, we’re able to give transparency as to what the repairer can do, and can release information to insurance and fleet managers,” adds Hudd.

The standard sets out the requirements for competence based on qualifications given by the three principal awarding bodies in the sector: IMI, City & Guilds and GQA. In addition, VBRA Elite also includes the online database to track them, thanks to a collaboration with bodywork training company ITAS, which already manages the approved bodyshop programme for passenger car OEMs including Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and Toyota.

“That enables someone who has undergone training, or wants to become an elite member, to download information on to one platform. All of the training certifications, assets, servicing, recalibration. Every document goes on there,” explains Hudd. Certificates are marked with an expiry date.

VBRA will take on the responsibility of the audit itself, drawing partly from the online platform, but also carrying out a physical visit and walk-around inspection of the facilities.

As of July, the first company to be accredited against the scheme was said to be D Gawthrope ACR of Knottingley, West Yorkshire.