Shop Walk Throughs (Gemba Walks)
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.
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.
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.
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Strategy Based Automotive Diagnostics in Collision Repair
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Notes to Licensed Installers
AN ECM is simply a computer that operates in a network in your vehicle. ECM’s only function correctly when they are integrated into your vehicle’s network security and operating system. As a result there are many problems associated with ECM repair and replacement that can only be seen or diagnosed with the ECM installed in your vehicle’s network and using an OEM specific scan tool.
Electronic repairs, program fixes and/or updates, calibrations, resets, configurations etc. are already done to our PC’s, Cell Phones, Game systems and many other electronic and computer driven systems almost exclusively by internet connection either wired or wireless.
The challenges facing this type service in the automotive repair world are the wide ranges of vehicles and vehicle systems differences by manufacturer and even models. It is extremely challenging for a repair shop to be equipped with specific diagnostic equipment, knowledge, and access to all the information to make an electronic repair to a vehicle in shop. Also, at this time, each car manufacturer requires a different type of interface “scan tool” with access to the manufacturer’s service information and calibration files for the shop to properly diagnose and repair electronic faults or identify mechanical/electrical “hard faults” properly.