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Lean – Understanding the Process

Saturday, Nov. 3, 2007
By Leona Dalavai Scott, Editor-in-Chief

In the Saturday Early Bird Roundtable “Lean – Understanding the Process,” presenters Jim Berkley, PPG, and John Sweigart, The Body Shop @, moderated a discussion on the challenges and concerns with implementing lean processes in collision shops.

Speaking to a full classroom of collision repair professionals, they first defined “lean process” because many shop owners struggle with a clear understanding of the concept.

Sweigart then gave a brief history of lean processes and described the concept’s origins with Toyota. “Lean is a relentless elimination of waste,” he said. “It is all about trying to manage the process [of doing business] better. He shared the five basics of lean:

The customer must be the architect of your process.

You must map out and thoroughly understand your process – so you can look for ways to improve it.

Once the value is defined, the work must be performed in a logical and proper sequence, with no reversals, no interruptions, and interdependent of each step.

As a result of the proper sequence and value, the customer must be able to gain some benefit from the collision repair shop.

Finally, lean is a pursuit of perfection – not a pursuit of your competition.

The presenters then asked the audience the reasons why some of them are implementing lean in their businesses. Reasons included minimizing “chaos,” working faster and better, and becoming more profitable.

To implement lean processing in your shop, the presenters encouraged the session participants to read up on the topic and take advantage of some of the training on lean processes provided by paint companies and insurers. In addition, they advised collision repairers to study lean processing in other shops to see it in action.

“Lean is a way of thinking,” said Sweigart. And it’s the thinking behind the process that should remain the same. You can have differences in the way things are done, but your thinking should always be the same.

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