Siemens Business Services (SBS) has revealed that an outage suffered by the UK's computerised MOT testing service this week was caused by an overrunning systems process.
Some UK garages found it almost impossible to work once the system crashed. It was built by SBS for the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) at a cost of £230m, and links all authorised MOT testing centres to a central database.
According to SBS, the problems began on Monday night, and involved a system process which handles the certificates that have been issued that day.
"On Monday, one report took longer than expected to complete. This caused delays when garages opened on Tuesday morning," explained an SBS spokesman, who added that the system was returning to normal and catching up with missed tests.
He admitted that this is not the first time the MPT system has experienced problems."We've had a number of limited incidents, limited by time and by the number of garages affected," said the SBS spokesman.
The spokesman said SBS plans to upgrade the system so that late-running overnight reports won't cause problems in the future, and will add a feature allowing garages to continue issuing electronic MOT certificates even if the central database is unavailable.
Neither SBS nor VOSA could say exactly how many garages were affected by the glitch, but it's clear that the disruption was considerable.
Workers at one MOT test facility told ZDNet UK that they were almost unable to operate earlier this week, partly because they weren't familiar with the emergency paper-based procedure introduced by VOSA.
Siemens was awarded the contract to build the system in 2000, and was meant to have it up and running by 2002. However, the project was not completed until the end of March this year.