Total Automotive Sanding System

March 1, 2017

The director of body shop operations at a Florida shop reviews 3M and Festool’s surface preparation and finishing system. 

WEBSITE:  TRAINING: In-person training and demonstrations available  USES: Surface preparation and finishing  COST: Prices vary contact 3M-authorized distributor

The Reviewer: Mike French, director of body shop operations at Jenkins Collision Center, grew up in body shops shadowing his dad and earning his allowance by performing various jobs. He’s been in his current position for the past two years and prior to that was the body shop manager at Jenkins Collision for 12 years. 

The Shop: Jenkins Collision Center opened in Ocala, Fla., in 2003. The 50-bay dealership collision center sees an average of 250 vehicles per month and services Accura, Mazda, Hyundai, and Kia. 

The shop had been using a sanding system, but there were complaints about the amount of dust in the shop and how bulky the system was. When 3M and Festool introduced their Total Automotive Sanding System, French says that the collision center staff decided to make the switch to the unit a little over a year ago. 

How it Works: The sanding system consists of an orbital sander that’s attached by a hose to the dust extraction machine. To turn on, the user presses down on the handle and the sanding begins. While the sander is working, the dust is sucked through the vacuum and straight into a storage bag.  By reducing the amount of dust, the sanding system is more environmentally friendly, which French says was a major selling point. 

The Review: French says he has no complaints about the system. His favorite features are the mobility of it and the fact that it’s cut down on cleanup. French says that the system is more user friendly than other sanding systems that he's used in the past and that it's easier to bag up and dispose of the dust, which results in a cleaner and more efficient shop. 

The weight and mobility of the system allow the staff to easily move it around the shop, which is a necessity since it’s used every time the shop needs to sand a vehicle. French says that previous systems were larger and heavier, which made it more difficult to move it around from job to job.

The ROI: French says that the biggest savings has been time. By reducing the amount of dust that’s released into the shop, a few minutes of clean up is saved after every sanding job. For a shop that sees over 200 vehicles a month, that time can add up quickly and cutting that down allows more work to be done. French adds that the Total Automotive Sanding System is also much easier to clean than the last sanding system that Jenkins used. On average, he says cleaning the Total Automotive Sanding System takes 20 minutes less than the previous product. 

Time isn’t the only thing that French says is saved. Material costs have also gone down. He estimates that 3M’s sandpaper lasts 25 percent longer than the sandpaper Jenkins used before.

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