Essential information for end of life vehicle dismantling, depollution and recycling

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Who’s the new IAEA president?

ATF Professional recently spoke to Darren Power for his view of the Institute of Automotive Engineer Assessors (IAEA) and about his role now that he has taken over the position as President of the organisation from the previous incumbent, Tony Simpson.

 

Who’s the new IAEA president? f one
Darren Power

Darren, can you bring everyone up to date on your background and your journey to becoming the President of the IAEA.

I started my career in the motor trade, working for both franchise main dealers and independent shops before moving to an insurer in an engineering role. While working in the repair industry, I dealt with engineers regularly. I was told about the IAEA course at Technical University Dublin (then Dublin Institute of Technology) through conversations with the engineers. I started the course a few months later, and after qualifying, began to work with the Irish Region Committee.

I’ve worked on the Irish Region Committee ever since and have held the role of Treasurer and Chairman. I was exposed to the IAEA Council members through this work, and they have always been very open, supportive and welcoming. I was elected onto Council in 2015 and then in 2019 was elected to the position of President-Elect, with the presidency commencing in 2021.

The previous President, Tony Simpson, was well known on the pages of ATF Professional. How does the transition of presidents in the IAEA occur, and what support do you have as you take your new role?

There are three positions held by a president once nominated and elected into position. The first is president-elect, which transitions into the role of president after two years. Finally, following on from this is the role of past-president; a six-year cycle in total. So Tony now holds the position of Past-President and our new President-Elect is David Punter, together we are referred to as the Executive Team. Council members are elected for three years before they need to either resign or stand for re-election.

While the mechanics of the presidential role may seem unusual to some, the succession plan ensures a smooth running and continuity of plans throughout the council and presidential election cycles.

It’s my experience that the executive team work together very well. Tony and David are very important members, of whom I have total support. I benefit from Tony’s experience and knowledge over the last four years, and David brings fresh thought and perspective.

Together we have the collective support of the council and wider membership to whom we are ultimately responsible. I’m very pleased to be working with such a committed group of people on Council. I shouldn’t forget the supporting role of the Company Secretary Ali Cairns and the secretariat, Plenham. Altogether, I am satisfied that I have the support needed to fulfil my obligations as President.

How did you keep your members up to date throughout the pandemic, and did you see an increase in members contacting you?

The pandemic was, and still is, an unusual time, both for the Institute and business in general. The institute comprises individual members who no doubt have had a tough time. With the lockdowns, we saw a huge reduction in motor claims, which would, of course, have had a detrimental effect on many members. We didn’t have a huge increase in members contacting us throughout the period as I believe their focus and attention was on that which was most important to them, the safety and security of their families and their businesses or the business of their employers.

That being said, we tried to adapt how we engaged with our members. We had to cancel physical events; this meant adapting to digital platforms. Some examples of changes we made were:

  • Moving Council meeting to Microsoft Teams and streamlining agendas
  • Moving most of our examinations to a digital platform with remote proctoring capabilities.
  • Moving CPD events to pre-recorded webinars and live presentations which were very well received.
  • Holding regional and national AGMs online, and using platforms and e-voting systems.

We were lucky in a sense, as some of these systems had already been explored in prior years, and we had already had discussions and quotes from some vendors which put us in a good position to adapt quickly. This was due to the progressive approach from council members to try to keep positioning us for the future.

With the adoption of communicating with your members digitally, is this a trend that will continue and what other advantages does it bring?

The intention is to keep taking advantage of the digital capabilities; there are so many advantages to embracing technology, just a couple of examples are:

1. Our national AGM is usually held once per year on a Saturday in the Midlands. This requires significant commitment from members to attend in terms of travel cost, time and balancing family/work commitments. We did offer some postal and proxy voting, but now members can just click on a link and vote on resolutions and nominations and view the AGM online. They also have the opportunity to amend votes up to a cut off date.

This has led to increased engagement from members, giving them more of a voice than ever before on how the institute is run.

2. Moving our examinations online with remote proctoring capabilities means that we can hold exams more frequently, and new students aren’t subject to the barriers to entry that existed before. You can now sit an exam from anywhere in the world, and exams can be held more frequently; a student won’t have to wait months for the next exam sitting or bear the additional cost of travel.

The list of benefits goes on. Considering the above and the advantages and opportunities that digital technology presents, Council still have an appetite to return to some of our old ways. Digital meetings and events have their place, but they are not a full substitution for physical events, which can be more engaging and offer networking opportunities.

To summarise, this is a trend that will continue and the way we operate as an organisation has changed forever. Going forward, we will operate a hybrid model or both virtual and physical events; a mix of the old and the new.

As you will now be the president for the next two years, how do you see the IAEA progressing, and are there any particular aspects that you are keen to promote? Also, how do you see the assessor’s role changing in that time?

As discussed, we have embarked on a digital journey. One of my focuses over the next two years is to continue expanding on the work already done and leverage these new capabilities to benefit both the Institute and its members.

Another key focus, following on from work by Tony, is to engage with industry stakeholders proactively. We have made some progress on this front, but there is more work to do. Hopefully, the easing of restrictions will create an environment where we can constructively engage with stakeholders more easily.

We have some other projects that are being undertaken at present to improve some of our processes, policies and governance, as well as strengthen protections around our intellectual property. There is a lot of work to get done, and my focus is on bringing these to fruition with the team.

It is difficult to say how the assessor’s role will change over time. Vehicle technology is getting more complex, and it isn’t just one part of a vehicle; everything from the drive trains to the paint processes is changing. Furthermore, there are advancements in technologies supporting the repair of vehicles, such as claims processing and estimating systems. It’s an exciting time from a technology perspective.

We have seen engineers specialising in certain areas or types of inspection. As the technology expands, I think we may see a deepening of these specialisations, and the role of the assessor may adapt with the adoption of some of these technologies over time.

When it comes to vehicle recycling, the assessor’s role can be pivotal at times. How important do you consider communication between your organisation and the vehicle salvage and dismantling industry? What would you say to those wishing to share their views and opinions with you and your organisation?

In the past, there probably hasn’t been enough communication between stakeholders, and we probably don’t have a full appreciation of each other’s perspectives. As outlined previously, we want to engage with stakeholders in industry proactively.

Sometimes the relevance of the salvage and dismantling industry as a stakeholder isn’t acknowledged. They play an important part in the industry and lifecycle of a vehicle, and they are subject to the same changes in vehicle technology and changing environmental regulations, which I’m certain have impacted and will continue to impact how they process vehicles.

We are always happy to hear the views and opinions of all industry stakeholders, including the salvage and dismantling industry. I think we can all learn from each other.

Finally, digital assessment has a major impact on technology companies making bold claims, it seems, more frequently. What are your views on this? Is it to be embraced, observed wearily, or is it to be seen as a tool that can be utilised to make the individual assessor and the industry more effective?

Certainly, there have been huge strides in technology, including but not limited to IoT, Sensor Fusion, Telematics and Artificial Intelligence, the list goes on. Over the last number of years, these technologies and companies developing them have attracted huge investments from industry and venture capital companies. These advancements have inevitably found their way to the automotive claims and repair space, and we see many bold claims headlining our newsfeeds.

I’m not sure some of the technologies are quite where they need to be yet, but they are certainly coming. I’m minded to think of the stories of engineers of yesteryear, travelling around without mobile phones and taking images on film. Advancements in technology led to image engineers,  which changed the way the industry processed claims, efficiencies were gained, and claims cycles times reduced which was good for consumers and vehicle owners.

Field-based inspections still have their place, as do image inspections. I suspect that some of these technologies may adapt the way claims, repairs and total losses are processed, and they too will have their place. I don’t think there is any other option but to embrace it because it’s going to come no matter who wants change or who doesn’t. Change is a constant now, and we must adapt and utilise technologies where appropriate. The digital proctoring system we have adopted for our exams is supplemented with artificial intelligence creating great opportunities.

The challenge for the Institute with regard to advancements in the claims and automotive space is to keep abreast of the latest technologies, understand their place, and keep members educated through continued professional development.

Engaging with stakeholders in industry is a must so that we have our finger on the pulse and are ready for changes when they happen.

Ultimately, we all eat from the same table, just different sides. We all have to look forward to the future together.

For information about the IAEA, please visit www.iaea-online.org

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