ATF Professional speaks to Tony Simpson before he leaves his position as President of the Institute of Automotive Engineer Assessors (IAEA) to find out about his role, the changes he has seen during his tenure and where he will go from here.
Tony, Could you provide a little background about yourself, how you came about being the President of the IAEA, and what the role involves?
Having started in the accident repair industry at the age of 15 as an apprentice Panel Beater and developing my career within the industry to that of a Bodyshop Manager within a main franchise agent. I had a desire to progress into the role of an Automotive Engineer Assessor. The natural influence of my father being a Senior Engineer with Royal Insurance for over thirty years paid an undoubtedly important part together with going with him on inspections from an early age and attending IAEA London region lecture meetings from the age of 18. It became my passion and aspiration to achieve IAEA membership and develop my industry learning and knowledge.
After joining a leading insurance company in 1988, the natural progression was to take the institute’s written examinations and gain IAEA membership. Following two years of study and already having gained the required qualification criteria to take the IAEA examinations and membership criteria, I was asked to join the IAEA London region committee. I held the position of Education Officer, for four years as London region Chairman, and currently as London region Treasurer. I was elected to the IAEA National Council in 2010 and held the position of Regional Liaison Officer and Public Relations Officer, I have also held the position of President-Elect for two years leading to my current position as President of the IAEA for its term of two years.
An obvious question to ask is, what changes have you seen whilst in your tenure as President?
Along with the considerable advancements and technological design of both the vehicle’s architecture and material use and both significant highly technical developments in vehicle safety systems and structural integrity, this has posed a challenge to the engineer professional to understand the implications of modern vehicles within the accident repair arena and the necessary methods and new processes required to reinstate the vehicle back to its original design specification.
One of the most unexpected situations that have forced change during my tenure is the global COVID-19 pandemic, which started ten months into my Presidency. However, this caused an acceleration of transformation, and I am very proud of how we were able to adapt and meet the challenges the Government restrictions caused. We had already been working towards changing the way we deliver our education program and operational practices; however, the pandemic accelerated our five-year plan and has put us in a good position for the future. The institute is committed to developing new working partnerships and industry collaborations to reinforce our position in the market, and generate positive communication with all industry stakeholders, building positive progression and understanding.
Since our first meeting, you have contributed editorial to ATF Professional and you have also spoken at one of our conferences. You have always been keen to connect between assessors and vehicle recyclers. Why have you done this, and what benefits do you think this has brought?
I believe that in this modern highly technical and developing world, the key to building success is by partnerships, and industry collaborations and alliances. Mutual understanding is imperative to achieve common ground and understanding. We can work together more effectively by understanding our own individual disciplines and knowledge of the implications of our decision making. A better and more informed decision can be made by understanding both the engineer’s role and its operation, together with the need to understand the role and onward process of the salvage and recycling industry. This can undoubtedly create mutual respect and comprehension of the engineering and salvage process for both industries.
The role of an assessor is ever-changing. How do you see it evolving, and what will this mean in its relationship with auto recyclers?
In this ever-changing technological world, and the global governments and leaders desire to reduce the impact of climate change and the carbon footprint through the development of electrification of vehicles, this is unquestionably the biggest challenge both the accident repair industry, engineering profession and the recycling industry has to face now and in the very near future.
Despite the significant advancements the motor manufacturers have already achieved to date, together with the acceptance and embracement of the consumer to the electric age and their associated technologies, this form of power is still very much in its infancy with still much research and development work required.
Greater understanding and training are necessary for the aftermarket environment to understand the implications of such technologies together with the ability to repair, replace and recycle battery packs safely and appropriately.
Assessors need the correct skillset and qualifications to understand the reparability of electric vehicles and have a detailed and thorough understanding of electric vehicle construction and repair methodology. The onward journey from the time such vehicles are deemed beyond repair and transferred to the auto recycling industry needs collaboration from all parties to understand all options available, which include the recycling and green parts options that are potentially available. This will give a unilateral and mutually informed interpretation for all concerned to provide a joined-up working process.
As you come to the end of your tenure as President of the IAEA, what do you foresee to be the main issues that will need addressing concerning vehicle categorisation?
During my hands-on practical physical examinations of vehicles over the last few years and especially around the work of previous total loss vehicles returning to the road, the alarming issue that has been identified by myself and other assessor colleagues around the country is the fact that inappropriately repaired and substandard repaired, and previous total loss vehicles are in general circulation on our roads with apparent new MOT certificates.
As mentioned in my last article for ATF Professional, there is no regulation or quality audit trail in existence at present to safeguard or provide a recognised standard of repair. This is no reflection on the recycling industry or its operation or that of the ABI Code of Practice, but a fact that this situation is happening and the consumer and general public need protection, or there needs to be a stringently regulated safety guard and the ability to have confidence in a vehicle that has been repaired following its previous claims history.
This is a piece of work that requires cross-industry collaboration of all stakeholders to address this issue as a priority and formulate a constructive solution that could be presented to the government to consider legislative action. Unless action is taken or at least this situation is brought to the attention of the appropriate authorities, it will continue to exist with potentially devastating consequences.
Being President takes much dedication and hard work but what will you look forward to when you step down at the end of July?
It has been a tremendous honour and privilege to serve as the President of the IAEA, and one I have enjoyed immensely. I am looking forward to my new role as immediate Past President and will work with my successor and provide my complete support and continued commitment to him within my new role and still remain on the institute’s national executive team. My resolve and dedication remain exactly the same, I will continue to provide support to the IAEA National Council and regional centre’s and work alongside external partners and organisations.
My commitment hasn’t changed, only my position.
Tony will step down at the IAEA AGM on the 26th July 2021 when he becomes the immediate Past President.
If you would like to contact Tony, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit The Institute of Automotive Engineer Assessors (IAEA) at www.iaea-online.org