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The Importance of SOPs

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Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for all the latest repair technologies seem to be getting a lot of buzz recently. It reminds me of when unibody vehicles started entering the industry in the late ’70s and early ’80s. I have 12 more years before I retire, do you think it’s necessary for me to jump on the SOP bandwagon before then?

 It took more than a decade for the collision repair industry to become educated, trained and even accepting of the unibody vehicle design. The industry did not have any national training programs to speak of, and information on procedures was difficult to come by.

Today the challenge is different. Vehicle manufacturers realize their obligation to facilitate proper collision repairs, information is available at the touch of a computer mouse or keyboard, and networking sources like associations, jobbers, vendors and many other industry partners have played an integral part in keeping the industry up to date. There’s also a general understanding of the importance of training. The collision repair technician today is using more technical knowledge and tools than ever before—including the era when the unibody design was being introduced.

Alternative fuels, lighter weight vehicles, hybrid metals, new passenger compartment design and new electrical systems have accelerated vehicle complexity for the collision repairer. These new technologies demand precise repairs based on vehicle manufacturer-specific information. In the good ol’ days, vehicle information had a shelf life in years. Manufacturers today are changing vehicle systems within the current model year, necessitating vehicle identification numbers for clarity.

Yes, standard operating procedures will likely be a necessity before you retire. My only question is, are we ready to embrace the system?

Ray Fisher is the president of ASA-Michigan. This article represents his opinion and does not reflect the views of ASA-Michigan.

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