Whole Vehicle Type Approval (WVTA) has been in place since 2013 for vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes GVW; however from October last year, all commercial vehicles produced in the EU now require WVTA as standard and this EC Directive has had a significant impact on the UK commercial vehicle bodybuilding industry in general.
“When looking at the issue of national WVTA for refrigerated vehicles, we have found that the understanding of the subject falls into two distinctly different groups. If you take commercial vehicle dealerships, for example, they are generally pretty knowledgeable on the subject. One of the first questions we usually get asked when specifying a vehicle by a dealer is whether we have got the type approval for their actual vehicle model in question,” says Chris Berridge, Managing Director at leading refrigerated bodywork manufacturer Paneltex Ltd.
Chris continues, “However, when we talk directly with end-users, we have a different situation. We generally find that there is still a need for more detailed product education as well as an explanation of the type approval process and what it means in terms of being able to manufacture industry specific vehicle body types. In both cases though, we can then advise both end customers and dealers about the correct body specification and work with them to ensure that this meets with their specific operating requirements.”
As a company, Paneltex has been at the forefront of achieving WVTA for all the major commercial vehicle manufacturers/models throughout the type approval programme and the Hull and Norwich based manufacturer now employs two of its technical staff on a full-time basis, processing all the type approval standards and procedures at the company.
Unlike many of its competitors, WVTA at Paneltex not only covers refrigerated bodies, but also dry freight bodies through both its Transload vehicle body manufacturing operation in Andover, Hampshire, and the walking floor and trailer chassis manufactured by Gainsborough based Martrans. This gives the Company an unrivalled selection of fully approved vehicle body types that cover most popular applications.
However, it’s not just about manufacturing standard approved bodies, as Chris Berridge explains, “Having type approval specialists within the Company also gives us the ability to manufacture special build bodies through the IVA (Individual Vehicle Approval) system and so far our experience of achieving IVA’s has been really successful too. We feel we are in a very good position to minimise both the lead time and the cost of these activities.”
Currently, the Paneltex range of WVTA refrigerated bodies now covers everything from 3.5 t rigid refrigerated box bodies right through to 26 tonne dual compartment rigids and maximum length 13.6m reefer trailers.
“Our previous experience in achieving N1-class up to 3.5t, as well as trailer Type Approval in 2013, has helped us enormously in completing the N2-class and N3-class levels for vehicles of 3.5t and upwards last year. So far we haven’t had any major production issues and delays as a result of type approval concerns have been minimal, which has ensured that our customers have continued to receive the best possible service from us throughout the WVTA programme,” added Chris Berridge.