One of the services I provide as a business development manager for BASF Automotive Refinish is to help with production flow to eliminate choke points or backlogs. The most common call I get is for help in the paint shop. My standard approach to evaluate production flow is to review the processes, watch the paint shop work and look for a trouble spot.
Recently I was asked to help with a paint shop backlog. I arrived at the shop around 10:30 a.m. I saw vehicles in both booths, a car in front of each booth bagged and ready to pull in to the booth and two more in line. I saw a paint technician using the spectrophotometer to validate the color, locate the color code and insert the information into the mixing queue. It seemed like everything was in order.
Then I heard the words “poly fill” and saw a car being pulled into a middle line between the two refinish lines. I walked over to the car to talk with the paint technician and found that a body technician had sprayed polyester spray filler over all his bodywork. The paint technician explained it would take him a couple of hours to smooth out the poly fill and there were only 4.2 hours on the entire job.
Houston, I think we found a problem and I don’t think it has much to do with the paint. Working with shop management, we created a process that required body technicians to finish their work to a 320-grit finish and send it to the paint shop unprimed.
Another shop I visited had a painter who would not mask a vehicle until it was in the paint booth where it could be wiped down in a clean environment. I saw his point, but the only area really needing to be wiped down is the area being painted.
Waiting until a vehicle is in the booth to mask it creates a severe gridlock in production. This practice reduces the number of booth cycles in a day that will snowball as the week progresses. Working with the paint team, we created a process to mask vehicles completely prior to moving into the booth. This process allowed the shop to increase production, solving an issue that, again, had nothing to do with paint.