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Innovations: Mobile Carts Equipped with Rechargeable Printers

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SHOP STATS: Classic Collision  Location: LAWRENCEVILLE, GA.  Innovator: SCOTT BRITT  Size: 37,000 SQUARE FEET  Annual revenue: $100 MILLION (FOR ALL LOCATIONS)

What They Are

A way of mobilizing lightweight printers and aiding efficiency for shop workers like estimators.

 

The Inspiration

Not long ago, the shop printer was a prime “power hog” at Classic Collision, according to Shannon Blevins, the Georgia MSO’s regional director. Classic Collision’s crew also got a new, $4,000 mobilized cart for the shop floor and loved its versatility, but knew it would be impractical to invest in several such carts.

That’s where director of IT and optimization Scott Britt entered the equation. He helped the MSO incorporate thriftier, three-tiered metal carts that could hold a laptop and a printer, to mimic the versatile, older cart. The scaled-down carts cost less than 25 percent of what the old carts cost.

Then, in 2015, Britt made the modification of adding a rechargeable Brother thermal printer, which essentially burn images onto paper, rather than using ink, based off the recommendation of a vendor. Before making that move, Britt, who now works out of the MSO’s new Lawrenceville, Ga., location, noticed that bulky laser printers tended to bounce around on Classic Collision’s mobile carts.

Blevins says the new mobile, rechargeable printers, which cost between $275–$500 for most models, are “much more durable for the environment we are in.”  

 

What They Do

The rechargeable printers and their accompanying mobile carts help Classic Collision’s efficiency in multiple ways. For starters, they lessen the possibility for technological failure on the mobile carts, Britt says, which had previously been complicated by the use of elements like batteries (the new printers simply charge overnight) and power inverters.

Also, the rechargeable thermal printers don’t require toner, something Classic Collision had churned through quite a bit of with laser printers.

But, more than anything, Britt’s modified printer setup lets estimators move their mobile printer carts around the shop floor with greater ease.

“It’s pretty much just one piece, and off you go,” Britt explains of the printer setup. “It makes us completely mobile. We can go outside and write estimates, we can go all over the shop and write estimates.”

 

How They’re Made

Work was minimal to make Classic Collision’s rechargeable thermal printers mobile. The MSO simply purchased metal carts online, and set up the Brother printers according to directions. The modified, four-wheel carts also easily hold employees’ laptop computers.

 

The Cost

On Britt’s suggestion, Classic Collision purchased several $150, three-tiered metal carts. With the accompanying thermal printers, each cart costs a total of close to $650, the director of IT says.  

 

The ROI

Britt says Classic Collision has seven mobile carts equipped with the thermal printers. Those carts added up to cost just a little more than one of Classic Collision’s old mobilized carts.

The past printers Classic Collision used were reasonably priced at $300 each, but required $75 toner cartridges that needed to be replaced seven times per year―an expenditure Britt no longer has to concern himself with now that his shop uses thermal printers.

The modified thermal printer carts also offer subtle, yet significant time savings, because they save employees from having to trudge from the shop floor to the front office to print.

“Now we’re able to put dedicated [employees] out in the shop with those carts who can write supplements, who can write an estimate if need be, and they can print it right there,” Britt says. “Just makes life a lot easier.”

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