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Complete tear-downs will boost your shop's productivity

Monday, October 1, 2012 - 07:59
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The practice of "100-percent tear down" goes by different names. Some shops call it "blueprinting," while others call it "methodical disassembly." Whatever the name, the goal is the same – to remove from the vehicle at the very start of the repair process everything that is damaged and needs to be replaced, and everything that will need to be removed or disassembled as part of the repair process.

You probably already understand the reasons why this process makes sense. Identifying every part that is needed allows you to place one parts order and avoid delays caused by the last-minute discovery of needed parts. By removing what is needed to identify all damage, you can reduce the need for supplements. Also, a 100-percent tear down allows you to keep the vehicle moving steadily though the repair process without the costly, inefficient fits and starts of the traditional system.

Mike Anderson

Even though many shops say they are doing 100-percent tear downs, I often find that this isn't the case. They think they are doing them, but they haven't fully understood the concept behind a 100-percent tear down. The question these shops should be asking themselves is: Why do we need to do a 100-percent tear down?

For example, you should be doing tear-downs for the following tasks:

  • For access to control or reference points for anchoring and measuring. You know whether you will measuring the vehicle, so remove the undershields or other parts that must be removed in order to do that.
  • For safety. You can't weld within 12 inches of electrical components, for example, so if repairs will require welding, remove these parts upfront.
  • For mirror matching of parts. Mirror matching is another time-saving process that involves making sure the replacement parts received match those removed from the vehicle. It's another step to avoid those last-minute unanticipated parts delays. But mirror matching isn't an efficient process if it requires, for example, going to three different places, including to the car itself, to mirror match against those old parts. If all the parts that will need to be mirror matched are removed during tear down, it can save a lot of time and steps for the person doing the matching.
  • For both internal and external refinishing. Most shops think to remove the items that must be removed for the external refinishing of the vehicle. But fewer think during tear down about what the paint shop will need to remove in order to refinish any interior areas.
  • For corrosion protection. What are some of the items you need to remove to apply seam-sealer, for example. I often see a car that is supposedly 100-percent torn down, but still has grommets or plugs that will need to be removed to restore corrosion protection.
  • For discovery of one-time use fasteners. Removing a piece of trim you'll be reusing from a damaged part may seem like a trivial step that could easily wait until the reassembly process. But how many times do you find out only then that it involves a one-time fastener that should have been included on the initial work order and parts order?
  • For discovery of not-included operations. On some Audi vehicles, for example, you may include the labor time to remove a belt molding, but without 100-percent tear down, you may not realize you have to remove the door glass frame assembly in order to do so. If you don't identify that up front, you'll find yourself doing that operation for free, or having to supplement for it.

I've developed a whole list of the types of things for which you should be doing tear down, and I'll send it to you if you email me a request. But don't just give it to your people and say, "Here's what you should be doing during 100-percent tear down." If you do that, you're doing this to them instead of with them.

Instead, use a couple items from my list as a starting point for a discussion with your employees. Ask them what things need to happen during tear down in order to make sure it is really 100 percent. Allow them to help you build your own list. It will be more productive doing this with them, rather than just doing it to them.

Mike Anderson, a former shop owner, currently operates COLLISIONADVICE.COM, a training and consulting firm. He also acts as a facilitator for DuPont Performance Services' Business Council 20-groups.

If you have a business issue or question you'd like Mike to address, email him. mike@CollisionAdvice.com

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