Society of Operations Engineers

The Society of Operations Engineers (SOE) is a leading membership organisation for engineers comprised of three previously independent engineering bodies – the Institute of Road Transport Engineers (IRTE), the Institution of Plant Engineers (IPlantE), and the Bureau of Engineer Surveyors (BES).

Operating throughout the UK and worldwide, SOE exists to promote, support, regulate, and professionalise operations engineering and the people who work in it. SOE directly influences the road transport, plant and engineer surveying sectors, spearheading best practice and compliance, with a particular focus on risk reduction, professional skills and development, and regulation compliance.

SOE works to promote awareness of operations engineering for the benefit of professionals, employers, students, and the general public, ensuring that those working in operations engineering have the support and tools needed to ensure the service they provide is as safe and effective as possible.

Examples of SOE initiatives to meet these aims include:

• Trailblazer apprenticeship scheme

The SOE has an active role in promoting the government’s new Trailblazer initiative (run by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) for apprenticeship schemes throughout the UK. As part of this new joint government-employer scheme, the SOE assists employers and organisations adhere to the UK-SPEC for Trailblazer accreditation. When apprentices graduate from Trailblazer-approved apprenticeship schemes, they are eligible for Engineering Technician (EngTech) registration, a benchmark of their skills and competence. SOE is one of the Professional Engineering Institutions (PEIs) in the UK that can facilitate this. The SOE is currently involved in schemes in the aircraft manufacturing and maintenance, and HGV and bus/coach sectors.

• Licensing of road transport technicians
The SOE’s irtec scheme is an independent accreditation scheme that assesses the safety and competence of technicians who maintain and repair vehicles in the commercial vehicle, trailer and passenger carrying industries. Technicians who take the irtec test are assessed on their theoretical and practical skills and, if successful, are awarded an irtec licence, which is a nationally-recognised certificate that demonstrates a high level of competence and knowledge to any employer in the road transport industry.
• Accreditation of workshops that repair HGVs and PCVs
The SOE and the Freight Transport Association (FTA) are working together to deliver IRTE Workshop Accreditation, an independent accreditation scheme that measures the procedures of independent workshops against those of major industry stakeholders. FTA engineers audit commercial vehicle workshops to assess their compliance in key areas such as premises, equipment, technical and clerical staff ability, management, documentation, quality and appearance. As a way for maintenance providers to demonstrate their competence, the scheme allows operators and manufacturers to choose workshops that have been independently assessed to the SOE’s quality assured standards.
• Accreditation of engineering organisations’ in-house training schemes
The SOE’s Corporate Partner scheme helps organisations reach their goals in education, training, professional standards, safety and best practice. The scheme combines the benefits of SOE’s long-running Industry and Academic Partner programmes into one comprehensive package that provides organisations with access to consultation, advice and promotional services.
• The IRTE Skills Challenge

This annual competition rewards and promotes the vital skills and knowledge of bus technicians and engineers in the UK. During this five day event, teams from bus and coach operators across the UK compete in a series of engineering challenges in mechanical, electrical and bodywork disciplines. Teams come from major UK operators such as Arriva, FirstGroup and Abellio, with the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), Shell Lubricants, and Bridgestone among the key supporters of this event.

• The Commercial Vehicle Show

As the only specialist road transport exhibition in Europe, the Commercial Vehicle Show is where commercial vehicle operators meet with industry suppliers. It is the largest and most comprehensive road transport event held in Britain, and the biggest single sourcing opportunity for the UK road transport and logistics industry. In 2014 the show attracted over 18,800 visitors from around the world. IRTE Services, the trading arm of the SOE, operates the show in conjunction with the Road Haulage Association (RHA) and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Benefits of membership include access to technical events, best practice guides, and networking opportunities.


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Type Of Business
Education, Training
Not for profit, Charities