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Lean Manufacturing

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Over the past couple of years I have periodically read articles on lean manufacturing being the new wave in collision repair.  How do I find out more and will it work?

“Lean manufacturing” is a catch phrase that identifies a behavior dedicated to ongoing development of policies and procedures to accent efficiencies while reducing unnecessary production costs. The concept as it applies to automobiles goes back to Henry Ford and his development of the assembly line. It was through increased efficiency and soaring profits that Ford was able to pass on some of the savings to the consumer.

The theory is seen as a great opportunity for the collision repairer. The most important thing to key in on is current behaviors and attitudes, and the ability to refocus them. The “lean operator” focuses on throughput. He works diligently on weeding out delays and distractions, such as micromanaging the claim process and dealing with wrong parts. Today the collision repairer staying in business is already looking for these efficiencies and processes. And I truly believe that any collision facility that is not process driven today will not be a contender in the next decade.

The Automotive Management Institute (AMI) is a great source for learning more on this topic. Along with some of the paint manufacturers, AMI has management classes that teach the theory and opportunities that this process offers. But a word of caution: It is a behavior-driven mindset and does require change. Henry Ford made the Model T’s, not the customers who bought them, and in time he was able to lower the price!

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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