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Innovations: Shop Floor Production Board

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Innovations: Shop Floor Production Board

SHOP STATS: Body Builders Automotive Inc.  Location: ROLLING MEADOWS, ILL.  Innovator: MATT ROBERTSON  Size: 10,000 SQUARE FEET  Staff: 15  Average Monthly Car Count: 125  Annual revenue: $3.1 MILLION

What It Is

A shop floor “production board,” or workflow board, applied to the side of a paint booth. 

 

The Inspiration

Back in 2009, Matt Robertson—a technician at Body Builders Automotive Inc. (BBA) in suburban Chicago—grew tired of being forced to scour the shop in search of vehicle keys. The process simply didn’t seem efficient. 

“There was no visual control anywhere,” BBA general manager Joe Phillippi says. Shop workers “couldn’t find where one car was at in a certain department without going into a management system.” 

And the staff at BBA thought there had to be a quicker process for locating vehicles—one that could provide a decent amount of information in one quick glance.

 

What It Does

The production board is centralized on BBA’s shop floor, and is broken up by department. It allows the staff to quickly recognize bottlenecks, and lays out the repair process from beginning
to end, from assembly to wash. 

Here’s how that process works: A photo of the damaged area of each vehicle at the facility is posted on the production board by one of BBA’s porters. That photo notifies shop workers that a vehicle is ready for disassembly. Behind every photo, a piece of paper is later attached that notes the scheduled teardown technician, body technician, and how many paint hours are allotted for the job. Additional notes include the vehicle’s date in, date due to paint, and the job’s overall due date. The crew at BBA also applies stickers to the photos of cars that are designated as less-than-two-day jobs, which helps everyone prioritize tasks. 

“It’s one spot for the technician to go for all the keys in the shop,” Phillippi says. “So, if they know the car is in paint, the photo should be hanging in ‘paint’ and the keys will be hanging on the photo.”

 

How It's Made

Phillippi says the staff in Rolling Meadows simply applied painters’ tape to the side of a paint booth. The entire board is roughly 20 feet long, and around 3 feet high. The board also easily utilizes dry erase markers.

 

The Cost

The production board cost Phillippi’s staff next to nothing, considering they simply used materials that were already around the shop. 

 

The ROI

Phillippi says the production board has saved BBA immeasurable amounts of time, and has helped shop efficiency. The general manager confidently estimates that the board has improved cycle time within his shop. He says the board helps BBA track elements like its one-day repair jobs clearly and concisely. 

“It has just eliminated a lot of waste for technicians,” Phillippi says. “They’re not walking around looking for keys. They’re not wondering where a bottleneck may be. They’re not wondering where the car is in production. All the information is up there. 

“I can’t imagine how much time it has saved us in the end.”

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