Proper Repair Planning Can Save Time and Money

by Bob DuBreuil —

So, why aren’t more shops doing it?

I have been visiting shops in several parts of the country over the last few months. Although the concept of “repair planning” has been around for at least a decade, I am surprised at how few shops are doing it. Or, to be more honest, I am surprised at how few shops are doing repair planning well. Not many shops seem to grasp the importance of this strategy and the merits of using it.

The whole idea behind repair planning is to dismantle a vehicle completely, 100 percent, so that there are no supplements beyond that stage. To accomplish this goal, the shop has to invest the right people and the right tools into this process.

The Right People

Who are the right people?

Number one is a fully experienced body technician. Many shops allocate this responsibility to technicians with lower skills in order to save costs. The problem is that these less-experienced technicians simply do not have sufficient skill to understand how deeply they have to dismantle a large variety of vehicles. The other problem is that the less-experienced technician many take far longer to perform this task.

The next necessary person is someone who understands the estimating system, and who can work alongside the technician to record the repair plan in the first (and only) supplement. As the vehicle is being dismantled, this person — an estimator, production manager, or repair planner — should have the p-pages open to ensure that all parts, fasteners, clips, and repair times are captured. This person should also have access to software such as ALLDATA, which can provide additional information on the proper method to repair that specific vehicle.

I also recommend that the painter be involved in any repair plans that require his or her expertise, such as a three-stage pearl finish.

It might also be a good idea to involve the parts person on a more complex repair.

Advocates of Lean processes often use an expression that I really like: Sometimes you need to slow down to speed up.

Slow Down

By now, you are probably thinking that this process will involve time and, therefore, expense. Advocates of Lean processes often use an expression that I really like: Sometimes you need to slow down to speed up. If you slow down the dismantling and repair planning process, you can actually speed up the repair process.

Speed is gained by having 100 percent of the parts required for the repair rather than stopping the repair one or more times while you wait for supplement parts.

Speed is gained by not having to move the vehicle in and out of stalls because something was missed and then having to wait for another approval. Speed is gained by having 100 percent of the parts required for the repair rather than stopping the repair one or more times while you wait for supplement parts.

And think of the administrative time and costs you will save by not having to request additional approvals or order and receive more parts.

It takes a lot of preparation to implement proper repair planning. Any shop that is doing repair planning well will tell you that it is well worth the effort.

Bob DuBreuil is a senior services consultant for AkzoNobel Automotive & Aerospace Coatings. He can be reached at robert.dubreuil@akzonobel.com.

 

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This article originally appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of Collision Quarterly.

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