Practical, thoughtful production process can reduce cycle time

June 19, 2017
In addition to including glass removal under preparation for repair, you should also think about pre-painting parts like core supports, hood hinges, rear body panels and even the underside of the roof if it was required in OEM procedures.

You have a damaged vehicle, a damage appraisal and a body technician available, which sounds like a perfect production scenario. It would be if the vehicle is ready to be repaired.

I asked a shop manager if the vehicles we were reviewing for repair were ready to be repaired. He looked at me like I was crazy and asked me, “what do you mean is the vehicle ready to be repaired?” 

I looked at the appraisal and read through the repairs needed. This vehicle needed the roof replaced. I asked him if the glass company had removed the windshield. He said no but he could have the glass guy out in 30 minutes. I then asked if he had the bonding agent needed to adhere the roof. He said he hadn’t looked. Of course, I followed that question asking if he had the roof panel and he said he did. After we went through that exercise he understood that the vehicle was not ready to be repaired and he should wait before assigning the repair to a technician.

Moving this vehicle into a technician’s stall to wait for the glass company to arrive would have created technician wait time and slowed the repair process. If he then had to wait for the bonding agent the technician is once again idle reducing his touch time on that repair. You can tell yourself the technician could be removing the headliner or doing other tasks while he waited for the glass company, but what if the glass technician gets stuck in traffic and that 30 minutes he promised turns into an hour?

The delivery driver bringing the bonding agent has four other stops increasing his delivery time. Now your perfect plan has dissolved and created a work stoppage. Providing a technician with a vehicle that is ready to be repaired allows the technician to move through the repair process without stopping, increasing his productivity and reducing cycle time.

So, you can see that having a complete damage appraisal and an available body technician is only part of the equation for an efficient production process. The damage appraisal must be reviewed carefully to ensure all the critical pieces of the repair are available so everything moves in the same direction. The better you prepare the vehicle for repair prior to giving it to a technician will allow a smoother production process. During the review process, you should develop a repair plan to schedule all the individual tasks needed to complete the repair.

In addition to including glass removal under preparation for repair, as mentioned above, you should also think about pre-painting parts like core supports, hood hinges, rear body panels and even the underside of the roof if it was required in OEM procedures. Having these parts pre-painted will speed the repair process because the items will only need to be spot painted after installation and those hard to reach spots will be refinished without complication ensuring complete paint coverage.

Having bonding agents available in the right quantity also is important and on newer vehicles you need to consider rivets and other fastening items. Validating the repair process using OEM repair standards will help you itemize the products necessary to complete the repair. Even a simple bumper repair should be repair planned to make sure you have all the products available.

As you continue to develop the repair plan you will schedule a time to reinstall the removed glass while ensuring you have the proper moldings and adhesive. Coordinating mechanical repairs, frame straightening procedures and final refinishing are important steps to eliminate choke points in those work stations. Understanding exactly when the different procedures need to be performed will help you keep the production process moving forward. Remember, each time the vehicle repair stops you are extending the cycle time unnecessarily. Realizing this will help keep you focused.  

Perfecting repair planning and creating a practical production process takes practice and critical thinking to be successful. Once you master the technique you will realize improvement in touch time and cycle time. With insurance companies becoming more and more critical of repair performance, any improvement you can make in cycle time will increase your success.

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About the Author

John Shoemaker

John Shoemaker is a business development manager for BASF North America Automotive Refinish Division and the former owner of JSE Consulting. He began his career in the automotive repair industry in 1973. He has been a technician, vehicle maintenance manager and management system analyst while serving in the U.S. Air Force. In the civilian sector he has managed several dealership collision centers, was a dealership service director and was a consultant to management system providers as an implementation specialist. John has completed I-CAR training and holds ASE certifications in estimating and repair. Connect with Shoemaker on LinkedIn.

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