We’ve talked before about setting up your business as an MOT centre. But when it comes to heavy-duty vehicles, it’s a whole different game.
So different, in fact, that it comes with a whole new name.
It’s called an Authorised Testing Facility (ATF) – and it comes with own set of rules and requirements.
Here’s what you need to know before setting up an ATF lane:
Why are ATF lanes special?
In simple terms, an ATF is like an MOT Test Centre – like the ones that deal with consumer vehicles or Class 7 MOTs.
But if you’re checking and servicing heavy-duty vehicles (like HGVs, trailers, buses, and coaches), you’re talking about becoming an Authorised Testing Facility.
Setting up shop as an ATF comes with its own special rules and regulations: around your premises, your testing area, and the equipment you use.
And as if that wasn’t enough, the DVSA only takes a limited number of applications – so you’ll have to work extra hard to prove that your site is suitable.
That might mean the DVSA is only accepting ATF applications in certain regions, where the addition of your site would benefit the local area. Or it might mean they’re only accepting centres that can deal with specific types of vehicles – like high-risk petrol tankers.
So before you start putting any plans in place, the first step is to check the government’s current requirements to see if you’re eligible.
What kind of premises do you need for an ATF lane?
ATF lanes deal with much larger vehicles than a normal MOT centre. And that means they come with extra requirements – both for practical reasons and safety reasons.
So before you launch into any applications to the DVSA, you’ll need to make sure that your premises has:
- The right planning permission and insurance policies
- Access from a road that’s suitable for heavy vehicles
- An entrance and exit that allows the vehicles to only move forwards
- Unobstructed access from the site entrance to the testing area
- Communication equipment, office space, and the right level of WiFi.
And of course, it needs to meet all the current health and safety regulations – and it needs to be weatherproof, too!
What about the testing area?
Just like the site itself, the testing area comes with its own strict requirements. You’ll need an ATF testing area that has:
- A space that’s suitable for the category, size, and type of vehicles you’re testing – including a flat and level floor
- The right ventilation (or a system that stops the build-up of exhaust fumes)
- A minimum of 1.5m between the vehicle entrance and exit, and any pits or fixed equipment you use
- A microphone and speaker system – so you can communicate with your customers during the test
- And the same reliable WiFi inside your testing area.
What equipment do you need for an ATF lane?
This is where things start to get technical. And as a leading provider of DVSA-approved equipment, it’s an area where we can really help.
There’s a huge list of equipment that’s approved for MOT testing by the DVSA, but as a bare minimum for ATF equipment, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got:
- A computer-controlled roller brake tester
- The right kind of jacking equipment
- And equipment for servicing under vehicles – such as a pit, hoist, or lift.
And luckily, we’ve got you covered right here:
Our own Totalkare In-Ground Brake Tester is DVSA-approved and suitable for both pits and ATF lanes – with a tablet interface that lets you control and monitor your tests and result with a handheld device remotely.
And of course, we’re well-known as a market leader for our extensive range of vehicle lifts, including our Mobile Column Lifts and our Heavy Duty Y-Mech Lifts – all of which are suitable for lifting heavy-duty vehicles like HGVs, buses, and coaches.
What will you need before you apply?
Getting DVSA approval as an ATF centre is far from guaranteed – and the number of applications is limited by the DVSA.
So to give yourself the best possible chance, you’ll need the right paperwork in place. And that means you’ll need to be able to send:
- Your plans for the layout of your ATF premises
- Your plans for the layout of your test bay
- And your company’s health and safety policy.
Once you have those in place, you’re ready to apply – you can download the government’s official application form here.
Need some help on your ATF journey?
Getting set up as an Authorised Testing Facility is no easy task.
Between the extra regulations and the stringent requirements – and the limited number of DVSA applications – you need to come prepared if you want the best chance of getting approved.
So if you’re looking to open an ATF lane in your workshop, check out our full range of heavy-duty equipment in our online shop – from Brake Testers and Vehicle Lifts to Jacking Equipment and Inspection Pits.
And if you’re still not sure about the best way forward? Send a message to one of our experts – we’re always happy to talk heavy-duty gear!