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08/07/2013
MCTCNET2: COULD THIS BE IT, AT LAST?

ROADWORTHINESS
The latest circular arrived from the Ministry for Infrastructures and Transport concerning the “implementation times and methods” for the new MCTCNet2 protocol. The Department of Transport and Navigation has, therefore, established the new timescales for roadworthiness inspection centres in Italy

Massimo Brunamonti

COULD THIS BE IT, AT LAST? This is the question that sprang to mind when reading the latest circular from the Ministry for Infrastructures and Transport dated 10 April 2013 concerning “implementation times and methods” for the new MCTCNet2 protocol. In this circular, the Department of Transport and Navigation established the new timescales for roadworthiness inspection centres in Italy; briefly, the new software must be installed by 31 March 2014 and all equipment must be updated by 31 March 2015.
Not due to a lack of faith but because there were so many delays, hesitations and modifications that doubts arose spontaneously. Fortunately, those in the know can confirm the feeling that there has been significant progress  in recent months, especially with technical verifications of the conformity of PC Station and PC Booking software with MCTCNet2. For a better understanding of the situation that is being created as a consequence of the above, we should take a step backward. We all remember when and how it all started: it was 2007 and MCTCnet had been in operation for years with important results regarding automation and simplification; but there remained the problem of “falsified” inspections. The Ministry decided to put a stop to them and began the study and definition of what would become MCTCNet2. Three years later and it was at the operating stage: companies started developing new software and devices, but the system was complex and some of them began to ask themselves the crucial question - will it work? The Ministry decided, wisely we must admit, to ascertain that it would.  And so an agreement was signed by the Ministry for Transport, Aica – the Italian association of garage equipment manufacturers - CNA/Centri di Revisione and Anara/Confartigianato. The combined resources of administrations, manufacturers and car repairers went into carrying out a two-year-long MCTCNet2 experiment at the Ministry’s test centres. In accordance with the new system, inspections were simulated on real vehicles with updated equipment used by professional operators. Luckily, the results were encouraging – the system worked.  The production machine was set in motion. A new timescale was established for start-up and everything seemed to be proceeding well. But the chickens had not hatched before they were counted. On paper, everything should have gone smoothly, but there were surprises, resources were lacking and modifications were required which, despite all efforts to the contrary, added significantly to the timetable. In the end, the accumulation of delays added two years to the original programme. So if we think of the glass as being half full, then it’s late but done well - or at least with the due verifications.

So what happens now?
Let’s try to see it from the point of view of an inspection centre. The first problem is what must be done to adapt the inspection lines? That’s easy: PC Station and PC Bookings must have the new software installed, the new automatic vehicle number plate recognition system must be installed,  and all the equipment must be adapted to dialogue with and manage inspections in MCTCNet2 mode. The deadlines are those mentioned above: 31 March 2014 for PCP and PCS software and plate recognition system, and 31 March 2015 for the equipment, and in any case at the same time as the relevant periodic verification. Who will guarantee the quality? The Ministry will issue homologation certificates for the software and plate recognition systems and homologation updates for the equipment to be adapted.
So everything’s in order?  So it would seem; but, as usual, the expectations will be confirmed or refuted by the results. One thing is certain: on paper the development is important and the outcome of such a complex and ambitious project could be significant.  As we already emphasized, what prompted it all was the determination to give roadworthiness tests a profile that conveys safety and protection for citizens and the environment. The burden of vehicle maintenance costs is unacceptable when dishonest people in all categories are allowed to get off lightly. We must acknowledge the consistency and positive nature of the Ministry of Transport’s initiative but at the same time we cannot conceal the negative aspects that have been highlighted by the MCTCNet2 issue. Once again Italian manufacturers and professionals have provided proof of their absolute excellency,  confirmed their world leadership, developed original and avant-garde solutions and demonstrated openness to innovation. Unfortunately, what is lacking  are the resources required for the fast and effective homologation of the equipment and subsequent introduction to the market. We are talking about the technical structures of the Ministry for Infrastructures and Transport in Italy, the current homologation institute; by law, technical verifications of the equipment can only be performed by the Ministry’s specialised centres. But the necessary structural and human resources are lacking because of the various laws for reducing costs. The immediate consequence is a delay in introducing it to the market and, once again, bearing the brunt of the damage will be what our country now needs most: development and jobs.
It is not our intention to get involved in things that do not concern us, but an observation is due: competitiveness, a fundamental requisite for growth and development in a modern panorama, is built also through efficient public administration.  In the EU there are examples of countries that are much more efficient than ours. Our politicians must use these examples to guide cost saving decisions that are not to the detriment of services but eliminate the bulk of formal operations that have little or nothing to do with real services and simply feed a bureaucracy that is frequently favouritism, redundant and harmful.
In its own small way, the entire MCTCNet2 issue is emblematic of a general situation in Italy: good ideas, great ability and total willingness, but also inefficiency and disorganization. An efficient  public administration and a streamlined, competitive organization are the inescapable resources for a modern country and a stable, enduring recovery.

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