Collision Shop Gemba Walks

Shop Walk Throughs

The Lean term for this strategy is “gemba walks”.  It basically means being out in the shop seeing firsthand what is happening.  More specifically, it is about making potential problems more visible.

Here are a few guidelines:

  • Make positive interactions with employees.
  • Ask why things are being done, even if you think you already know. Listen carefully.  You may find that the employee’s view of “why” may be different than yours.  If their answer is “because I was told to”, you have an opportunity to teach. If their answers is that they are adjusting for a defect they inherited, you also have an opportunity to target and correct a problem.

Lean Shop Defect Elimination

If you are serious about making process improvements in your shop, the best place to start is defect elimination.  For this discussion, a defect is anything that is not done right the first time.  Things like failed inspections, wrong parts, comebacks , etc. In this brief write up, let’s focus on comebacks.  The points we make here can be applied to any activity in your shop.

There is a method to the madness of defect elimination. Here are a few steps to take:

  • Define what a defect is. This should be from the perspective of the customer, bottom line business metrics, safety, or cost.

Collision Repair Shop Cycle Time Bandits

Cycle Time Bandits

Where are the cycle time bandits in your business?  This key question becomes the starting point for streamlining your business and increasing profits.

Before you can accurately locate these profit stealing activities in your shop, you must first understand what you are measuring.  Here is a key point.  There are two timelines that we concern ourselves with.  One is the time we spend working on the vehicle, which is labor time, not cycle time. The other timeline is how long a vehicle resides in your care before being returned to the customer.  This is the timeline that is important, because it is the cycle time of the repair.  It is the time the vehicle spends doing something, or waiting on something, that is important.

Heatcraft Tifton Georgia

Thanks to the folks at Heatcraft in Tifton, Georgia, for spending some time with me. They have a design/build to customer specification manufacturing process that operates at a very good cycle time. This takes a “can do” attitude, and they have it.

They will tell you that focusing on the customer makes all the difference and they are right. That’s how you keep/save jobs.

Science verses Religion

I love this topic. Stick a quarter in me and I can go on for hours.
Science and faith do not have to be at odds. Science and faith are both absolute and come from absolute sources. God can do what He wants, how He wants, when He wants. That is how I reconcile things science to things faith.
Science, though, will always be in conflict with religion, because religion is not absolute. It comes from man and is really a means for a few to control the many (just like politics).  Just look at wars and crimes against humanity in todays world that have religion as their source…Not God.
Religious folks make me nervous with their effort to separate people based upon their belief systems. For example, believing God created the universe and looking to science to understand it is not only okay, but healthy. In fact, I believe that God created the natural laws to provide a foundation for the rest of his creation, and He loves us for trying to understand these natural laws.  Unfortunately, religious folks, both theists and scientists, who vilify others with a different world view, control the dialog.  This is dangerous.
Consider the dark ages. The Catholic Church squelched all scientific endeavors. Some of science’s great minds were put to death for saying the world was round and earth was not the center of the universe.  This lasted 700-800 years from the collapse of the Roman Empire. It took humanity another 500 years after that to catch up to where we were in scientific understanding at the time of Christ. In other words we lost nearly 1300 years of scientific and cultural advancement. All due to religion, not faith.
The scary part is not the debate between science and religion. The scary thing is how many people reject someone saying “let’s look at the facts”, but accepts someone saying “forget the facts, believe what I tell you”. This is the basis of the conflict between science and religion. It is also the basis of conflict between cultural advancement and cultural stagnation. The argument has nothing to do with faith. Faith is a personal thing, not a corporate thing.

Note to My Son

A few things I know:

It is obvious that you are being called to make a difference, just like I am.

You are making a difference, you just don’t think about it that way.

You need to get back into a group leader situation. Your group was always involved in helping people. I believe that you miss and need that.

When frustrated, do something. Remember that you can’t eat the elephant in one bite. You can’t solve the world problems all at once either. Start in your back yard and move out from there.

Strategy Based Automotive Diagnostics in Collision Repair

Strategy Based Diagnostics is an automotive best practice routine that was initially published by G.M after studying and observing successful technicians in the field who consistently meet or exceed productivity standards and have the lowest levels of “re-checks” or “comebacks”. Since GM published this best practice, Strategy Based Diagnostics has been adopted by most in the automotive repair field. With the current wave of innovative technologies being applied to new vehicle models, this process is finding its way into collision repair as a necessity. The complexities and procedures associated with the requirement to return a vehicle to pre-loss condition can be mind boggling. I have modified some steps to this process that makes it more applicable to collision damaged vehicles in addition to the assessment of obvious visual physical damage.
The goal of Strategy Based Diagnosis is to provide guidance when creating a plan of action for each specific diagnostic situation. By following a similar plan for each diagnostic situation, maximum efficiency will be achieved when diagnosing and repairing vehicles.
The first step of the diagnostic process should always be: Understand and Verify the Customer’s/Technician’s Concern.  For a collision damaged vehicle there is the additional challenge that the customer may not be aware of a problem
1. Understand and Verify the Areas of Concern. The first part of this step is to obtain as much information as possible from the customer and from the vehicle itself. In order to verify the concern, the technician should be familiar with the normal operation of the system and refer to the owner or service manual for any information that is needed.
2. Perform a Vehicle Diagnostic System Check. This will verify the proper operation of the vehicle’s embedded systems. This will also lead the technician in an organized diagnostic approach to building a good repair blueprint.
3. Preliminary Checks: Conduct a thorough visual inspection. Review the history of the vehicle. Detect unusual sounds or odors. Record the diagnostic trouble code (DTC) information.

An email to my staff about alignment

This email is not addressing a current problem.  I simply want to make sure everyone understands the importance of working through your teammates and not around them. As we grow and become a more diverse and complex group of employees, one of the first things that will be compromised is alignment of agenda and purpose. Customers and prospects should get the same message and content every time they communicate with us.  This means all of us must be “singing from the same piece of music”. We are all aware of how inconsistency has hurt us in the past.  Just imagine how bad it could have been with 10 or more times as many customers and prospects. Remember that none of us alone know everything we  need to know to plot a course for our future. As a team though, we come pretty close.