After nearly 20 years of managing body recon departments and auto auction recon centers, I know that technicians don’t respond to theory. I get it—I’m not into theory either. In fact, I prefer the real world and a “boots on the ground” approach to the reconditioning process and in fact, quality.

In this industry, quality is a challenge. It’s a topic discussed…a lot. And, while most of us have quality control measures in place, there’s really no way to ensure that an imperfection won’t make its way onto the lane and then eventually the road…that is, until now.

At Sherwin-Williams® Automotive Finishes, we’ve moved past traditional paper checkpoints for quality assurance and we’re solving it with mobile technology. From our vantage point, a hand-held application offers not only an effective platform but a systematic and structured approach to identify and correct quality failures at each and every phase of the reconditioning process. New, Sherwin-Williams Collision Core™ Quality provides in-process and time-stamped peer-to-peer validation and verification; this application is not only easy-to-use for the technician at their workstation, but it provides management with valuable data insights, cost savings, improved customer satisfaction and ultimately, peace of mind in today’s constantly changing high-risk environment.

Too many recon departments focus on the outcome and not the process. And, typically in recon, quality issues are often the result of a misunderstanding, oversight or miscommunication rather than a reflection of the technician's ability to recondition the vehicle correctly.

A fully-mobile application enables you to reduce or eliminate persistent quality problems without any delays in communication and reporting, or last-minute surprises. An intuitive platform and navigation also encourages early adoption and continued use within the team—verifying and validating the recon process in real-time with a focus on error elimination and labor optimization.

At the “core” of the Sherwin-Williams platform are these two guiding principles:

  1. Each step in the recon process includes a defined departmental inspection.
  2. Each technician knows exactly what is expected of them in the recon process.

Though these principles don’t seem difficult or complicated, each has proven to be elusive to many recon departments.

With any quality control, the goal is to implement a process that is consistent with as little effort from management as possible. We want to eliminate reworks that ultimately end up costing far more in productivity and throughput, and always delay the sale. A data-rich reporting tool can help identify the most common failure types at the source and address issues at the root cause. Even better, you’re able to communicate—share—these errors across the recon team.

In our line of work, communication is critical—it is critical to ensure quality work at each and every workstation by each and every technician (throughout the entire recon process). It’s also critical to build quality into the recon process to quickly identify issues between each recon stage—long before final inspection and more important, sale day. A mobile technology, provides quality assurance one repair at a time with the ability to capture photos, report defects and communicate in real-time. 

The manager or quality control representative has the ability to remotely ensure repairs are completed according to expectations from any device with no special equipment needed. These quality checkpoints impact on-time and first-time quality. 

Certainly, we want to eliminate defects and address failures in the recon process, but more importantly, we want to ensure the vehicle makes it to the lane. When quality fails, not only does the cost of labor and material increase, but a sale is lost. With all teams engaged in the recon process on a mobile platform, you can ensure the vehicle moves through the process eliminating starts and stops, as well as downtime and opportunities to sell. The real gain with in-process quality is on the P&L statement, and captured in profits.

Other benefits of a feature-rich platform include:

  • Real-time communication—there’s no need for technicians to leave work areas seeking out information or reporting quality delays.
  • Quality validation alerts are sent throughout the recon process allowing for quick resolution while any delays are reported to improve upon the process quickly and effectively.
  • Each step in the recon process is clearly defined and includes an inspection by recon management—accountability for quality assurance is built into the process.
  • Critical-to-quality inspection points are identified and the process is standardized to produce the  quality you desire and customers expect.

In closing, there are huge benefits from implementing in‐process quality validation measures. Many are blind to the hidden costs associated with poor quality; moving past the dated management of process-on-paper to a digital solution is key because it allows for the time-stamping of activities and a visual recording of poor quality, something the traditional paper process cannot fulfill.


About the Author

After 20 years of managing collision centers, including Sterling Auto Body Centers, ABRA Auto Body and Glass and Manheim ABR, Lee V. Rush lends his recon management expertise to Sherwin-William® Automotive Finishes as Manager of Business Consulting Services. He can be reached at leroy.v.rush@sherwin.com

About Sherwin-Williams® Collision Core™

Sherwin-Williams® Collision Core™ is an interconnectable suite of intelligent applications that are designed to build strength and stability into the core of your business — removing silos and connecting data, refining and validating processes, optimizing labor and resources, educating and engaging employees, reducing waste, and identifying route cause and effect. For more information about Sherwin-Williams Collision Core visit, sherwin-automotive.com/collisioncore.