Does Process Improvement Really Work in the Auto Body Shop?

Does Process Improvement Really Work in the Auto Body Shop?

My identify is Doug Kirk, and I’m a self-proclaimed process junkie who has expended my entire doing the job existence in the collision maintenance marketplace considering the fact that leaving school at 15 a long time previous. Starting off off as a paint technician in the late 1970s in Europe, I was blessed more than enough to increase to global director of business enterprise advancement for several paint makers. 

I’m a process junkie since I was born lazy. Most method-pushed people today are lazy it is not a poor factor, we use it as a badge of honor. My mantra is “make myself redundant” nowadays. I’m the creator of exceptional results (COO) for Optimum Agility Ltd. and do the job with lots of providers all-around the globe that share our views of a silo-no cost, optimally agile ecosystem. 

I was reminded recently of a quotation that has constantly resonated with me: “A individual treated is a customer dropped.” What it truly implies is, if a specialist or trainer empowers/teaches the shopper to deal with all his or her problems swiftly, then the client has no far more need for that marketing consultant or the presented products and services, and so the expert loses out. So to make certain that consultants are sufficiently rewarded for their expertise transfers, they will need to come across techniques of earning sure the purchasers find out at a speed that rewards them in excess of time or by no means get the total photograph. 

The Constant Advancement Fantasy

Course of action improvement methodologies are not new. They did not begin with the Toyota Creation Technique, nor did they start off with Ford’s going output line or the standardization of nut-and-bolt threads during the industrial revolution in the U.K. They did not even start out with the Gutenberg printing press as much back as the 1400s! By definition, they’ve been around due to the fact time immemorial, and they have developed as the demands of the shopper or the enterprise have progressed. Adjust has been the only consistent.

Does Process Improvement Really Work in the Auto Body Shop?

Charles Darwin identified (not invented) evolution, whilst W. Edwards Deming coined the phrase, “It is not required to improve your survival is not necessary.”

Breathe simple. That is the very last issue of academia we shall have in this short article, as this is just one of the causes most methodologies fail: They get overcomplicated by lecturers and consultants and diluted to a collection of equipment. 

Right now in just the collision fix business, there are three most important methodologies remaining utilized with a variety of degrees of accomplishment: lean, principle of constraints and 6 sigma. The one thing all 3 have in typical is they have been all produced for the production business where by there is higher quantity and low variability. The collision repair service marketplace, nevertheless, is reverse of this in that it is lower volume and large variability thanks to no two mishaps becoming the exact and that the time taken to course of action a single repair is measured in days or weeks as opposed to the minutes that Toyota will take to make a new auto. 

So back to the issue at hand: Why do most outlets not benefit from these unique methodologies?

  • Siloed implementation
  • Witnessed as a series of applications
  • The motivation to optimize departmental revenue — at the price tag of overall earnings
  • The desire to reduce departmental charges — at the expense of total output 
  • Failure to establish the proper crucial effectiveness indicators (KPIs) and connect complementary KPIs
  • Failure to use details effectively — in genuine time.

Silos: The Silent Killer

Silos manifest in a business when departments or administration groups do not share information, aims, equipment, priorities or procedures with other departments. As an alternative, they do the job from every single other. 

The silo mentality is finally fueled by a singular target on the performance of each individual department or folks within that department fairly than the cognitive exceptional utilization of all the departments inside the procedure. This is compounded inside of industries that are broken into phases (like collision repair), as a result the course of action requirements to be agile ample and optimally centered to adjust for these a variety of phases. The silo mentality impacts functions, minimizes staff morale and contributes to the total failure of a corporation or approach irrespective of the enhancement methodology staying practiced. And, they’re far more common than you could believe — just have a look inside of your organization. 

Consider of the entire body department. The will need is to pass automobiles downstream to the following repair section/section, but we give each technician two to three or occasionally much more autos at a time. So, they eventually close up just flagging hrs to meet up with their own goals or needs, but they do not total the responsibilities or move the vehicle downstream. In short, they make do the job in method (WIP), but the only thing is: How substantially WIP are they authorized to create?

The silo mentality is frequently hidden/masked with the push for departmental performance concerning managers in just separate ambitions and targets. Just take, for case in point, sections departments getting a margin concentrate on without using into thing to consider what influence their purchases have on the panel or paint departments, or fulfilling specific departments on their flagged hours developed (finished) and not hours handed over to the future division. 

Materials margin is also a wonderful case in point of silo measurement. For example, overuse of a merchandise these as abrasives to develop a greater materials margin is viewed as a silo, but as the effectiveness of the abrasive cuts down around time, the quantity of labor (the maximum price in the procedure) will increase, and thus the effect on the full system time and price tag is catastrophic. So, these two metrics (product value in addition labor expense in time) will need to be connected to type a little something we call “operational output.” In sum, it’s about utilization of the mixture alternatively than the “sticker price” of the abrasives. 

Most companies are concentrated on efficiency and do not consider utilization — a big situation within just most enterprises, given that most companies evaluate effectiveness as the “key” KPI even though hardly thinking about utilization.

Measuring departmental effectiveness is a silo that will drive up WIP, and WIP is a price. Believe of another person working on the wrong car at the wrong time just to realize a private purpose of X hrs flagged (not handed above) per 7 days, ensuing in the downstream division remaining starved of perform. I usually hear this referred to in the U.S. as functioning on the “gravy.” 

The silo mentality inevitably damages everyone’s morale, specifically when workers become aware of the dilemma and are unable to do just about anything to alter it.

Breakeven: Upside Down Ledger

If you never know in which you are, how do you get to in which you require to go?

We restore motor vehicles, but we sell hours as a result, we can break most issues down into cars necessary (on normal) or several hours expected no matter of the device picked, offering you a operate-price concentrate on. By simply getting all your overhead collectively (the volume of revenue you want to address charges) and dividing it by the unit of measure you find, you can build an operational output breakeven goal. This run-rate can then be applied to measure your success for each time portion you drive, whether or not which is day-to-day or weekly.  

The intention is to transfer the wanted amount of units required (automobiles or hrs) to breakeven moreover the all-essential gain margin you need in the desired time slot (day-to-day) downstream to the other departments in your enterprise, e.g. panel to paint, paint to refit, and many others. 

Banish the maximization of silo profits in components, paint, and supplies and labor, as you can not realize maximums in all 3 at the very same time. Alternatively, look to enhance the collective margins, which we simply call connected metrics. 

Info Technological know-how

Just about every single shop supervisor/owner I’ve  met on my travels has designed various applications they use to dietary supplement their physical administration attempts, which invariably choose the variety of spreadsheets or regular operation course of action manuals. Even so, these applications have to have a big sum of time and work to continue to keep up to day. Additionally, when the manager is absent, the program fails.  

Just about every time I’m requested what I want from a job/place, I say: to make myself redundant! Anytime I generate somewhere, even if it is a uncomplicated journey I make every day, I use the WAZE application. Why? Mainly because every single day’s targeted visitors circumstance differs and, as WAZE is connected to true-time details, it permits me to make the most optimal conclusion.     

Any procedure is only as great as the information it harvests and the method it is utilized. Facts does not make you king or queen it is what you do with information that counts. My father was a carpenter and often instructed me, “Measure twice, cut at the time.” Similarly, the a person constant about the successful professionals/entrepreneurs I’ve satisfied on my travels is that they:

  • Consider before they act
  • Improve their businesses 
  • Take into consideration investment in technological know-how as very important
  • Listen as significantly as they speak. 

There is a better way.