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Grading: What to expect

Who assesses your workshop when you apply for grading? What are the most common pitfalls? How can you improve your score? All questions answered.

By now, you may well know that MIWA’s grading system has been established to help set our members apart: when consumers see that your workshop is both MIWA-accredited and has been through our stringent grading system, they know they can expect the very best service. 

We recently came to learn just how much value customers attach to a MIWA accreditation when one of our members, Alex of Propshaft City, was awarded a maintenance contract for 200 trucks on the strength of his workshop’s accreditation.

But what does grading mean for you – and what should you expect when your workshop is going through an assessment?

Ensuring responsible business management
MIWA director Pieter Niemand points out that grading benefits you as well as your customers: the audit that’s conducted on your workshop can help to point out any gaps in the service you provide so that you can improve. An audit is all about ensuring responsible business management, which encompasses employee well-being, compliance with regulations, safety (including inspections to inspect and address potential hazards), and prevention of equipment failure, by checking for wear and tear on your machinery. Audits can also optimise efficiencies within the workshop, which ultimately bolsters your bottom line.

What you need to know before an audit
So, what do you need to know before an audit? The inspectors work according to a strict list: the business must operate out of bona fide premises (with a reception area, invoices, company stamp, and company documents), and must have at least one fully qualified motor mechanic on its full-time staff. The business must also have insurance coverage of at least R500 000 against defective workmanship.

Other criteria include an on-site oil separator; a compressor and pressure equipment register; and a two- or four-post hoist and lifting equipment register. These issues all fall under the Mandatory Fields. In addition, the premises will be inspected to ensure that it meets OHS legal requirements (including policies and procedures, appointment letters, signage, first aid kits and fire extinguishers, and servicing of equipment) and that it has adequate lighting and ventilation, as well as access to a recognised technical programme and covered and roofed work areas. Finally, the auditors will ensure that the workshop has all the required tools and that it is clean and well-maintained.

Workshops lose points in their audit because they are lacking in one of the areas stipulated in the Mandatory Fields; they may not have an oil separator, for example, or their defective workmanship insurance does not equal the required amount.

The number of criteria to be addressed may seem daunting, but members are given 14 days to rectify any areas where they have fallen short, following their audit.

Who conducts the audits?

All audits are conducted by our partners at Wipcorp Project Management. You can expect a visit from Glenn, who, as auditor, is Wipcorp’s ‘eyes and ears’. Glenn will undertake a thorough assessment of your workshop, including administration, general facilities, OHS compliance, equipment, housekeeping, and tooling.

Project Manager Charne works alongside Glenn; her role encompasses organising the team, facilitating training, and planning the auditing process. She’s also responsible for quality control, which she oversees through random site visits, attending meetings with the MIWA team, sending audit progress reports to workshops, and compiling regular updates about the project.

Kate is Wipcorp’s administrator, responsible for maintaining and organising the records of audit-related documents as well as participating in quality control processes to ensure that audit reports meet the required standards; while SHEQ manager Louise provides guidance around SHEQ in every audit process.

Finally, as director of Wipcorp, Scott sets the company’s strategic direction and long-term goals.