MCS explained, plus quick guide for wannabe installers
Posted by John Martin on 14 May 2010 at 9:58 am
The Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) appears to be suffering in a similar way as the Gas accreditation scheme did when it was introduced. It is shrouded in mystery, with rumour-mongers spreading the word that 'none shall pass' and that 'its only for large companies'.
This situation has been further exacerbated by the total lack of information and guidance available from the scheme operators (Gemserv).
In essence the MCS installer approval process consists of a physical inspection of an installer's office management systems and an assessment of an installation they have completed under each category applied for.
The office inspection is largely based on the requirements of the document MCS001. This and other technology-specific MIS documents can be found on the the MCS website.
The MCS001 document contains 19 clauses with requirements such as complaints procedures, quality control, periodic review of systems and so on. The main point is that installers must have a documented management system in place.
This is what appears both off-putting and problematic for installers, who generally speaking are more at home installing the equipment than writing quality management systems. The mere mention of such systems sends them heading for the hills, which is not what is required if we are to significantly increase the number of MCS approved businesses.
I believe that most installers can write a quality system that meets the requirements of MCS001 once they understand what it is the 19 clauses are looking for. Whether or not they have the time or inclination to do so is a different matter.
Installer's quick guide to MCS
Do not fear MCS. Its aim of providing a competent installer base in which the consumer has confidence is laudable and we should all support the initiative.
You will need to register with the REAL consumer code which is approved by the Office of Fair Trading. The code details how renewable energy installers should deal with the customer - particularly how you present information to them to ensure they can make informed decisions based on honest and fair projections of performance.
In a nutshell you will need to be able to provide or demonstrate the following to become MCS accredited:-
- That you are registered with REAL and abide by the code
- That you have a documented management system in place which meets the clauses of MCS001 and applicable MIS documents, and
- That your installation(s) meet(s) the requirements of the applicable MIS document.
If you write your own quality management systems, keep it simple and look at what you currently do. Assuming your ethos is to deliver a quality install and have a satisfied customer then you are half way there. You may find that using flowcharts is the easiest way of documenting how you work and these are perfectly acceptable.
Once you have decided on an MCS certification body and submitted an application, you should be able to ask if a particular procedure would be acceptable to them. They are unable to provide advice due to the rules of the UKAS accredited scheme.
Most certification bodies have a 4 – 6 week lead-in period so make sure you take this into account when arranging your approval visit. This lead-in period is likely to increase as applications increase.
So what are you waiting for? Renewables are the future and it's difficult to see longer term how a heating installer can avoid involvement and remain in business.
If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.
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