The conversation centered on their KPI’s and how they thought implementing Damage Analysis and Blueprinting would improve their output. Many were stunned that their times were not moving quickly just by adding a Damage Analysis bay. What they failed to realize is that there is not one magic bullet for improving cycle time or touch time, but a requirement of several steps that, together, will contribute to major production improvements.
The concept of Damage Analysis has many steps that need to be identified: Actually disassembling the vehicle, identifying all hidden damage, ordering the correct parts, verifying parts received and then actually “kitting” the car for the technician to repair. This in itself is a major cultural shift for many shops, but the real process is much deeper than this.
Disassembling and identifying all damage up front is one step, but expediting parts, mirror matching parts and ensuring all parts are received before dispatching the repair is another huge undertaking for the parts department. This allows the vehicle to be “ready” to process for the technicians. The vehicle and parts cart need to be “kitted” with everything required for the repair. Think of your doctor or dentist office – all paperwork, supplies, tools and patient are inspected and checked in before the physician actually sees the patient. This should hold true for the vehicle before it hits your production floor!
Although the above is imperative to reducing cycle time, there are also many other factors in play. When the vehicle is brought into the repair process, it should be “pulled” through your facility until completion. If it is not, you need to ask your technician: “why is the vehicle idle?”
o Do you continue to have supplements? Return to the Damage Analysis and improve the process
o Are incorrect parts realized at time of replacement? Improve mirror matching and parts receiving SOP’s
o Are all the tools & equipment in working condition? Ensure each technician has the correct tools/equipment for task
o Are supplies in the area necessary for specific task? Assemble mobile carts with specific supplies
o Are “dead” cars sitting in productive work bays? Ask why – up to five times – if you need to get to root cause of why this vehicle is even inside the shop
o Is there sufficient lighting and/or space for each task? Mask off floor areas to create process flow as necessary
o Is there large equipment (frame racks) in the shop not being utilized? If so, then free up productive floor space
o Are there quality issues when passing vehicles to the next technician? Address training and/or SOP’s
o Is one area of the shop out-producing another? Level your production and staff
As you can see, many issues contribute to the cycle time of vehicles and reduce the touch time shown in your monthly reports. Be aware that although improving one task can make an impact in your shop, multiple small improvements add up to large productivity gains. Want to know how to improve your cycle time? Observe your shop floor with a fresh set of eyes and talk to your technicians!
Judy Lynch, Marketing Manager, Collision Repair Design Service for Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes possesses 29 years of experience within the automotive industry and has become a key resource for assisting collision repair facilities improve their performance and enabling them to become profitable and productive in this changing economy.