Process Planning and Efficiency in Automotive Repair

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The focus of process planning is the elimination of waste and lag time between steps. When focusing on the operational processes that support a vehicle maintenance and repair operation the objective is to achieve maximum efficiency in both value add and non-value add activities. The result will be improved efficiency and increased throughput. Following are operational areas to which process planning can be applied:

  1. Vehicle Movement – Minimizing vehicle movement will contribute a lot to increased shop efficiency. Ideally the vehicle would be brought into the shop, all work would be performed on it with no delays then the vehicle would be moved outside the shop and staged for delivery. However since circumstances will often not allow this the auto repair shop can recognize greater efficiencies by minimizing vehicle movement to the greatest extent possible and orchestrating required vehicle movement in the best way possible.
  2. Inspections – Performing safety inspections on vehicles is commonplace for most auto repair shops although the method by which they’re performed varies considerably. Some shops perform a pre-defined set up steps either electronically or on paper while others leave this solely to the technician. Predefined inspections are more effective and consistent as they’re based on executing a pre-defined plan. A predefined process is much more effectively managed than one that’s dependent on individual knowledge and consistency supports greater efficiency.
  3. Part Receipts – The process by which parts are delivered by the supplier and delivered for use occurs many times a week in an auto repair shop. So achieving maximum efficiency in this activity will eliminate wasted movement and decrease time spent. Large retailers and manufacturing operations have suppliers deliver goods and materials directly to the point of usage. This may not be practical in an auto repair environment but the fewer the steps involved in getting the parts to where they’re used the more efficient the shop will be.
  4. Repair and Maintenance – Organization and planning in the repair process can have a major impact on auto repair shop efficiency. This aspect of the operation encompasses prioritizing repair orders, performing maintenance and repair tasks in the most optimal order and in the most efficient way possible.
  5. Quality Assurance and Control – Quality assurance takes place at the point of production (the technician) and quality control takes place after work is complete and should be performed by someone other than the person that did the work. In both situations following defined processes to accomplish these quality checks will result in greater effectivity and efficiency.
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