My first impression after hearing about microdotting was that, whilst a good idea, I did not believe it would work. In theory, it seems a good mechanism to trace components of a stolen vehicle, but I don't believe it viable in practice, especially when it comes to commercial vehicles (I cannot totally comment on the motor vehicle sector).
In the Gazette 35130, 9 March 2012, microdotting was made compulsory for all new vehicles and those requiring police clearance. Here's an overview of the practicalities and impact on the Commercial Vehicle industry.
Firstly, these are the costs of having a vehicle microdotted (After much research, I could not find the cost for a commercial vehicle):
- Motor vehicles R550 a unit
- Trailers R500 a unit
- Motorcycles R450 a unit
Secondly, the following questions come to mind (the list is not exhaustive):
- As we are dealing with stolen vehicles and theft, why are private companies doing the microdotting? Even though HCV are the biggest advocates of SMEs (being a small business ourselves) and we believe the outsourcing is good for the economy, who is accrediting these suppliers?
- What are the stats for identifying stolen vehicles from microdotting in SA?
- In trucks, things like cab-plates have never been seriously attended to, so will enough traffic police be equipped with "dot microscopes"?
- Is microdotting going to stand up to sand-blasting? If we sand-blast chassis and trailer rails, will microdotting remain intact on the surface? I doubt it.
- Will microdotting be transparent and visible through a double-coating sprayed trailer (where the microdotting has been painted over)?
It is my opinion that this seemingly brilliant idea has not been thoroughly considered and — to date — badly rolled out. The issue has literally driven me dotty.
The worst of it is, the totally bureaucratic, inefficient and in many instances corrupt police clearance process that is already extended has to waste more time, and will now probably be R500 richer "for every pop".
Chris Barry is the Managing Director for Heavy Commercial Vehicle Underwriting Managers.
Read more about microdots here...