This continues to be a major source of confusion for garages looking to either upgrade an existing MoT bay or when starting with a blank sheet of paper.
On numerous occasions the enquiry comes in for an ATL whereas for a significant majority of garages across the UK this is a more expensive option to opt for. Probably the best place to start with this blog post is to describe the two types of bay…
Automated Test Lane
An automated test lane is operated by a single man and contains either a lift or inspection pit fitted with a set of play detectors. The play detectors are used to eliminate the assistant from the test procedure and can be operated from below the vehicle to both load suspension and to turn the steering wheel so that the linkage can be inspected. Within an Automated bay the roller brake tester has an integrated weighing system and an automated program which eliminates the need for the tester to operate the rollers. At the end of the test procedure an Automated brake tester then issues a statement as to the condition of the braking system (Pass / Fail etc.)
One Person Test Lane (OPTL)
An OPTL also requires only a single man to operate it. Play detectors are fitted to the inspection pit or lift in exactly the same way as for an automated bay but the key difference is the roller brake tester. An OPTL brake tester has no weighing set, no automated program to operate it and no automatic PASS/FAIL decision. This critical difference represents a significant saving by comparison to installing a full ATL brake tester whilst at the same time giving the garage the key requirement: One man to operate the bay.
Further checks that are required before making a decision.
Of course there will be instances where opting for an ATL over an OPTL makes sense;
- The garage tests multiple classes including, for example, motorcycles. In a combined bay as it is known, it makes sense to opt for an ATL as the cost of a secondary brake tester is greater than the cost of “upgrading” the brake tester to ATL spec.
- ATL does offer garages additional protections since previous test data can be re-interrogated at a later date to ensure the original test result was correct. This is an important feature when complaints are raised to the DVSA and an investigation ensues.
- ATL eliminates any chance that the test is “manipulated” as the procedure is common, the only variable is the presented vehicle.
Option 1 is common sense if opting for a multi-class site whereas Options 2 & 3 can be considered as being a “nice to have” feature if finances permit it whereas . So why are so many applicants still being steered down the route of ATL where the need is just not there?
There are probably at least a couple of reasons for this.
- Some manufacturers have dedicated chassis for both standard (OPTL) and ATL brake testers – this means that a decision needs to be made at day zero as to the right type of bay to opt for.
- Confusion reigns with end user garages – This is exacerbated by poor advice and a lack of general understanding on the types of bay which are actually available.
Other Available Options:
At the beginning of 2014 I wrote a blog post explaining the differences between the various types of bay which are available and this information can still be viewed on our blog. The most recent version of this post is available to view (in a new window) by clicking HERE.
On some occasions we are told by customers that ATL is “the future of MoT testing” and “all bays in the future will have to be AT”L but this is certainly not true as of today although it did hold some weight in 2005.
Experience in this sector does say that when you are within the scheme, the chances of an enforced change such as the above is low – the evidence for this statement comes from the changes to brake performance specification bungled by the DVSA during 2014 – Today we know that most stations are operating with out of date software and as automated stations. In fact many new garages are opening with this out of date software and are allowed to test! I don’t want you to think that this is an across-the-board problem as some manufacturers have rung the changes but evidence certainly points to this still being an issue…
To conclude – ask around! Speak to a number of suppliers of test bay equipment and gain a complete and detailed suite of information from which to make an informed decision.Although common sense you could save yourself many thousands of pounds otherwise spent unnecessarily.
If you wish to speak to GETECH about your MoT bay project – informally and without commitment then you can do so during normal office hours. Our MoT specialist’s can be contacted directly on 0844 800 9785.