Nothing is more important than safe and proper repairs. Repair research can take time, and if you don't have a plan, it can take more time than necessary. Creating a defined research plan and training staff on OEM terminology will ensure a positive return on the time investment and help drive safe and proper repairs.
Repair research is akin to estimating. Writing a complete estimate is like solving a long series of conditional if/then statements. For example, if I replace the fender, then I need to add for chipguard application. If I am applying chipguard, then I need to perform a spray out to match the OEM texture. This process continues until a complete estimate is written including all of the blends, tinting, R&Is, R&R parts and scanning required due to the fender replacement. Repair research is similar in the fact that it all begins at the point of impact, which is step one in the research process and follows five additional steps that will help you perform better research and safer, more profitable repairs.
Beginning to research at the point of impact is important; it sets everything else in order that will need to be researched. Beginning at the point of impact on welded panels may alert the estimator to the fact that other undamaged welded panels need to be removed first to facilitate replacement of the damaged panel (think of a rear body panel on some Mini Coopers).
The second step for repair research is metallurgy. Knowing the construction material and megapascals of the damaged panel can affect your repair versus replace decisions even for bolted-on panels. For example, if a 2017 Nissan Titan needs a front door skin replacement and there is a small amount of damage to the door shell, repair research into metallurgy would help shape the estimate to reflect replacement of the complete door shell when the shell substrate is identified as 1470 megapascal UHSS. There are even more advantages to researching metallurgy when replacing welded panels. It is not only important to know what the panel being replaced is made from, but also the megapascals and thickness of the substrate the new panel will be attached to. This information can affect decisions for the welding processes used, plug weld hole diameter, welding wire utilized and number of different test welds required before installing the new panel.