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The 'lean look' at Marshall Auto Body

Wednesday, June 3, 2009 - 00:00

Here’s how production has changed at a shop that’s gone lean.

In the case of Marshall Auto Body in Waukesha, Wis., journeymen techs were previously handed a list of jobs for the week, with paint and completion deadlines and one or more apprentices to help. Otherwise they managed the process themselves, ordering additional parts as needed and working with estimators on supplements. The shop routinely had 20 or more cars in the building

Now the shop usually has only 16 cars in the building, but is turning more work with less overtime. The shop’s dozen production employees are assigned specific tasks. A parts person handles all ordering and detailed check-in of parts, with no job moving into production until all parts are in-house and insurance approvals obtained after the “repair planning” team has completely torn-down and “blueprinted” the job.

Jobs move from that team to the “heavy” department where any structural or welding takes place, or directly into the six-stage flow line. That line consists of body work (all body filler work for the 185-200 cars the shop repairs each month is done in one station), priming, prepping, spraying, re-assembling and clean up. A new car enters that line every 80 minutes. If a technician in any of those stations is not going to be ready to move their car forward in the 80 minutes, they use a red light to signal they need help from others to keep the line moving.

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