Now, got into a bit of a bash with your banger, and it’s off to the workshop? Well, accidents happen. It’s what comes after it that most of us dread – inconvenience of losing the use of your ride aside, you can’t really tell if those repairs are going to be right, or ramshackle. The thing is, sometimes you find out way too late, when you’re already well entrenched in the horror script.

So, what’s there to do about it then? Well, how about being able to review equipment and skills of any collision repairer, know their capabilities, compare prices and locate the ones nearest to you? In short, to be able to make an informed decision?

Sounds like a pipe dream? Perhaps for now, but the first step towards getting to that has been started by the Federation of Automobile Workshop Owners Association of Malaysia (FAWOAM), which is setting out to upgrade the standard of its workshops in the country through an integrated grading system, which will commence with self-regulation.

With this system eventually in place, customers can be assured of the quality of services, equipment and skilled manpower, and will be able to identify the preferred workshops offering the best price without having to compromise on the workmanship and safety issues.

Working towards this, an online portal known as the National Automotive Workshop Administration Malaysia, or NAWAM, has been launched as part of the programme. The establishment of NAWAM was made possible with the strong support of Bank Negara Malaysia, Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism (KPDNKK) and General Insurance Association of Malaysia (PIAM).

NAWAM will act as a catalyst to create a centralised database for grading of workshops throughout the country. ”This grading system is aimed at propelling the industry and creating an avenue for workshop owners to be seen as credible and being transparent in its dealings with the customers and claims managers from the general insurance companies,” said FAWOAM president Kong Wai Kwong.

The new grading and evaluation system will be based on the internationally acclaimed 4M (Man, Machinery, Materials and Method) concept, which is implemented across all industries. Based on this concept, the collision repairers (workshops) will be classified according to three tiers, namely Silver, Gold and Platinum. Each tier will have specific requirements and price structures supported by two stages.

At the first stage, the collision repairers will be self-evaluated. The results generated will be collated and retained in the system. The second stage will involve independent auditors’ assessment of the workshops. Upon collating and evaluating both reports, the grade of the workshop/collision repairers will be ascertained.

NAWAM will evaluate and audit the collision repairers, while FAWOAM and PIAM will accord the repairers with the accreditation and certification. For a start, the system will be implemented across 500 PARS (PIAM Authorised Repairers Scheme) approved workshops in the country. Eventually, all 2,700 members nationwide will be included.

Workshops identified to be accepted and upgraded by FAWOAM will be able to apply for a loan to facilitate refurbishment – to this end, the government, through KDNKK, has allocated RM36.5 million in soft loans for this purpose.

To complement the grading system, a National Towing Scheme will be implemented that will involve the centralised registration of all tow truck operators and customers service agents to ensure efficient tracking and control. This will be jointly undertaken with the close collaboration between FAWOAM, PIAM and BNM.

Through NAWAM, collision repairers will have the opportunity to upgrade their competencies through continuous, specially designed competency development programmes.

“To help upgrade standards, we will embark on an enrichment programme to empower the collision repairers with technical knowledge, skills and current techniques. For this purpose, we have established an advisory panel that will be instrumental in sharing their expertise and know-how through dedicated training programmes,” Kong said.

The association has secured the assistance of 16 advisory support companies which will conduct training programmes, and these will be facilitated by Netica Solutions, the company instrumental in developing the NAWAM portal.

The advisory support group is made up of Shell Malaysia Trading, 3M Malaysia, Motordata Research Consortium, Automotive Aftersales Industries, Sime Kansai Paints, Stahwille, MSCL Holdings, Spanesi Malaysia, Unipac Engineering, PAC Auto Marketing, Top Results, Newera Equipment Supply, PPG Coatings, Wilayah Products, Links Equipment & Supplies and C & N Advantech Marketing Services.