Does Process Improvement Really Work in the Auto Body Shop?

Shirley Beal

My identify is Doug Kirk, and I’m a self-proclaimed system junkie who has expended my complete working lifestyle in the collision maintenance field since leaving faculty at 15 a long time old. Starting off off as a paint technician in the late 1970s in Europe, I was fortunate adequate to increase to world wide director of organization enhancement for numerous paint suppliers. 

I’m a process junkie for the reason that I was born lazy. Most system-pushed men and women are lazy it’s not a bad factor, we have on it as a badge of honor. My mantra is “make myself redundant” today. I’m the creator of exceptional results (COO) for Best Agility Ltd. and work with numerous companies about the planet that share our sights of a silo-absolutely free, optimally agile setting. 

I was reminded a short while ago of a estimate that has generally resonated with me: “A affected individual cured is a purchaser missing.” What it truly suggests is, if a specialist or trainer empowers/teaches the customer to take care of all his or her difficulties swiftly, then the customer has no much more need for that consultant or the supplied products and services, and therefore the guide loses out. So to make sure that consultants are sufficiently rewarded for their awareness transfers, they will need to obtain means of earning positive the purchasers learn at a tempo that benefits them more than time or never ever get the full photograph. 

The Constant Enhancement Myth

Approach enhancement methodologies are not new. They did not begin with the Toyota Production System, nor did they start out with Ford’s moving output line or the standardization of nut-and-bolt threads for the duration of the industrial revolution in the U.K. They did not even start out with the Gutenberg printing push as much again as the 1400s! By definition, they’ve been about because time immemorial, and they have developed as the desires of the consumer or the business enterprise have advanced. Improve has been the only constant.

Charles Darwin recognized (not invented) evolution, when W. Edwards Deming coined the phrase, “It is not needed to alter your survival is not mandatory.”

Breathe easy. That is the past level of academia we shall have in this report, as this is a single of the good reasons most methodologies fall short: They get overcomplicated by academics and consultants and diluted to a series of equipment. 

Currently in the collision fix business, there are a few key methodologies staying used with numerous degrees of achievement: lean, concept of constraints and 6 sigma. The a person matter all a few have in typical is they had been all created for the production marketplace wherever there is high quantity and small variability. The collision fix market place, even so, is reverse of this in that it is very low quantity and superior variability owing to no two mishaps getting the exact and that the time taken to system a solitary repair is measured in days or months when compared to the minutes that Toyota usually takes to produce a new car. 

So back again to the issue at hand: Why do most outlets not reward from these distinctive methodologies?

  • Siloed implementation
  • Noticed as a sequence of applications
  • The desire to maximize departmental gains — at the price of total gain
  • The wish to lessen departmental prices — at the value of whole output 
  • Failure to detect the suitable critical functionality indicators (KPIs) and link complementary KPIs
  • Failure to use knowledge correctly — in real time.

Silos: The Silent Killer

Silos take place in a small business when departments or administration groups do not share details, aims, equipment, priorities or procedures with other departments. As a substitute, they get the job done in opposition to each other. 

The silo mentality is eventually fueled by a singular focus on the efficiency of every single division or individuals within just that division instead than the cognitive optimal utilization of all the departments in the approach. This is compounded inside industries that are broken into phases (like collision repair service), thus the approach demands to be agile adequate and optimally targeted to adjust for these a variety of phases. The silo mentality impacts functions, decreases employee morale and contributes to the all round failure of a company or system no matter of the advancement methodology remaining practiced. And, they’re significantly extra widespread than you may feel — just have a seem inside of your business. 

Consider of the overall body division. The will need is to go autos downstream to the following maintenance stage/section, but we give each and every technician two to 3 or sometimes much more vehicles at a time. So, they in the long run conclusion up just flagging several hours to fulfill their individual objectives or demands, but they do not comprehensive the tasks or go the auto downstream. In shorter, they crank out work in procedure (WIP), but the only factor is: How substantially WIP are they authorized to crank out?

The silo mentality is normally concealed/masked with the travel for departmental effectiveness between professionals in separate aims and targets. Acquire, for example, elements departments possessing a margin concentrate on with no having into thing to consider what outcome their buys have on the panel or paint departments, or satisfying personal departments on their flagged several hours created (concluded) and not several hours handed in excess of to the next section. 

Materials margin is also a good case in point of silo measurement. For illustration, overuse of a product this kind of as abrasives to produce a higher substance margin is seen as a silo, but as the usefulness of the abrasive lessens more than time, the total of labor (the highest value in the method) raises, and so the outcome on the full course of action time and cost is catastrophic. So, these two metrics (product value furthermore labor price tag in time) want to be connected to type something we simply call “operational output.” In sum, it is about utilization of the mix rather than the “sticker price” of the abrasives. 

Most enterprises are concentrated on efficiency and really do not think about utilization — a substantial challenge within most businesses, since most companies evaluate effectiveness as the “key” KPI when barely considering utilization.

Measuring departmental performance is a silo that will drive up WIP, and WIP is a expense. Imagine of an individual doing work on the completely wrong car or truck at the improper time just to achieve a private target of X several hours flagged (not handed more than) per 7 days, resulting in the downstream office getting starved of get the job done. I generally listen to this referred to in the U.S. as operating on the “gravy.” 

The silo mentality inevitably damages everyone’s morale, especially when staff develop into mindful of the dilemma and are not able to do something to transform it.

Breakeven: Upside Down Ledger

If you really don’t know exactly where you are, how do you get to wherever you require to go?

We fix autos, but we promote hrs for that reason, we can crack most matters down into automobiles required (on regular) or several hours necessary no matter of the unit selected, supplying you a run-fee concentrate on. By simply just taking all your overhead collectively (the total of cash you need to protect expenditures) and dividing it by the device of measure you pick out, you can generate an operational output breakeven focus on. This operate-price can then be made use of to measure your achievements per time portion you wish, no matter if that’s daily or weekly.  

The aim is to transfer the wished-for variety of units expected (cars or hrs) to breakeven furthermore the all-critical gain margin you require in the desired time slot (day by day) downstream to the other departments in your company, e.g. panel to paint, paint to refit, and so on. 

Banish the maximization of silo earnings in parts, paint, and products and labor, as you simply cannot accomplish maximums in all three at the exact time. Rather, search to optimize the collective margins, which we simply call linked metrics. 

Knowledge Know-how

Virtually each and every store supervisor/proprietor I’ve  achieved on my travels has made different resources they use to dietary supplement their actual physical administration efforts, which invariably consider the sort of spreadsheets or regular procedure process manuals. Having said that, these tools call for a big quantity of time and effort and hard work to preserve up to date. Furthermore, when the manager is absent, the system fails.  

Each time I’m asked what I want from a job/placement, I say: to make myself redundant! Anytime I travel somewhere, even if it’s a easy journey I make daily, I use the WAZE app. Why? Due to the fact every single day’s site visitors circumstance differs and, as WAZE is related to actual-time knowledge, it lets me to make the most exceptional choice.     

Any process is only as superior as the knowledge it harvests and the manner it is used. Information does not make you king or queen it is what you do with information that counts. My father was a carpenter and frequently instructed me, “Measure 2 times, reduce once.” Likewise, the one constant about the productive professionals/homeowners I have satisfied on my travels is that they:

  • Assume before they act
  • Optimize their businesses 
  • Think about investment decision in technologies as essential
  • Hear as a great deal as they talk. 

There is a much better way.

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