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Try these process improvements in your paint shop

Friday, January 4, 2019 - 09:00
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In an age where new tools and services are constantly developed, technology is always evolving, and the talent pool is steadily shrinking, many collision shops struggle to find ways to increase profitability. The key is to improve efficiencies in order to do more with less, offsetting the technician shortage and, therefore, improving profitability.

A mistake I often see is pouring off the scale. Although this speeds up the process in the short-term, it typically leads to leftover paint being thrown away, and it removes the opportunity to accurately bill for each repair order (RO).

The paint shop is your sweet spot — it is frequently the cause of bottlenecks and inefficiencies from underutilized resources, equipment, and training.

Often, paint booths are seen as a constraint, not an added opportunity. When the paint department is full, the paint booth is frequently under capacity, sitting idle for many hours every day. To get more out of your paint department, follow these guidelines.

You can’t improve if you don’t measure
We live in the world of data and no decision should be made without data to support it. Be sure that every paint job is being logged individually and recorded accurately. This allows you to improve mixing accuracy and generates the supporting documentation you need to collect payment from insurance companies for the materials you actually used.

A mistake I see often is pouring off the scale. Although this speeds up the process in the short-term, it typically leads to leftover paint being thrown away and it removes the opportunity to accurately bill for each repair order (RO).

If a painter pours on the scale with the RO number attached and logs the products and amounts used, the shop can accurately track the cost to the shop and reduce wasted materials. Mixing system software streamlines this process and increases mixing efficiency, leading to improved profitability from time management, accurate material usage, and billable documentation.

The 6S method is a must

The 6S method is a best practice that I look for in every single shop that I walk into. If a shop is not following 6S, they are not ready for advanced training and processes to increase efficiency beyond standard ability.

Sort: Eliminate anything that is not absolutely needed in your shop and in your processes.

Sort: Eliminate anything that is not absolutely needed in your shop and in your processes.

Store: Arrange, identify, and organize your physical space for ease of use. Be sure you have a place for everything and everything is in its place.

Shine & Sweep: Cleaning should be a part of operating the business. In addition to regular cleaning, look for new ways to keep everything clean.

Standardize: Make standards obvious to your entire team and systemize the maintenance of sorting, storing, and shining & sweeping.

Sustain: Set discipline. Incorporate these principles into your culture. Schedule time to maintain standards and stick to it.

Safety: A safe work environment keeps employees in the shop. Safety should be a top priority, particularly in shops with heavy equipment, dangerous materials, and harmful chemicals. A clean workspace will allow clear walkways and personal protection equipment (PPE) will improve breathing quality in the paint booth.

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