Necessary Culture Changes For The Blueprinting Process

Figure 1 - The estimator is working with a disassembly technician at the vehicle, as it is being disassembled.

Blueprinting is a term often heard in the collision repair industry. Blueprinting means different things to different people, but blueprinting really is establishing a standard operating procedure (SOP) that allows for the discovery of all the damage before repairs begin. As part of the blueprinting process, all the parts should be identified right down to the blend panels and the clips that are needed. The correct repair information should be found along with any color matching that needs to be done. Following these steps and others, before repairs begin, will eliminate the problems that arise from finding additional damage during the repair process, which can interrupt and delay the repairs on that vehicle. Worse yet, is when the vehicle is repaired incorrectly because vehicle maker repair procedures were not followed.

One of the biggest challenges to implementing the blueprinting process may be the staff's perception of what will be involved. To be successful, those perceptions must be changed.

Changing Staff Perceptions
The blueprinting process requires a culture change throughout the repair facility. It also requires input from the entire team, not just management, to be successful. To change the culture, it may take some time for everyone to get onboard with the changes. When people become accustomed to their routine, they tend to resist change. They may feel that the new system will affect their efficiency and the work they produce. That is one of the reasons to implement small changes at first, so that the people who are resistant to making the changes can see positive results immediately.

It is also important to change the staff's thought process from being an individual to a team concept (see Figure 1). This is where everyone involved in the repair process is responsible for all the repairs of all the vehicles, not just the person who did a particular task. This does not mean that everyone does the same tasks or needs to work on all the vehicles that come through the repair facility. What this does mean is that the words "that's not my job" should be eliminated from everyone's vocabulary. By changing to a team approach, when one person is struggling with something, there is always someone to offer assistance or guidance.

The people involved in the blueprinting process also need to understand that one of the main concepts of blueprinting is rearranging the order of the steps necessary to repair a vehicle. For example, the "extra work" at the beginning of the repair process may be incorrectly perceived as additional work. However, in reality it is work that was traditionally done throughout the repair. By doing this work in the beginning, all of the repairs can be completed in a complete, efficient, and timely manner. An example of this would be disassembling a blend panel before the vehicle enters the repair technician's stall, and finding that a door molding is a one-time use molding. By identifying this one-time use molding in the beginning of repairs, it allows the part to be ordered and prevent the vehicle from being delayed due to a missing part.

Some staff members may not be willing to make the necessary changes to the new blueprinting process. In this case, the person in charge may have to make some hard decisions. If this person can be convinced to try the changes, they'll most likely get onboard with the changes. If the person refuses to change what they've always done, the blueprinting process will be difficult, if not impossible to implement. Unfortunately, it may end in the manager and technician deciding to part ways; this is never an easy decision.

9345Figure 2 - An estimator is taking preliminary measurements using the Matrix Wand measuring system.A disassembly blueprint estimator is an example of one of the many options for implementing the blueprinting process. With this option, the person that does the disassembly is also the one submitting the completed damage report. Another option is a dedicated technician and estimator working together in a dedicated stall. This system allows for the two people to develop an SOP so that they can be consistent in the blueprinting process.

How blueprinting is implemented will be influenced by the size and configuration of the repair facility (see Figure 2). Whatever system will work in the repair facility is what should be implemented. While all vehicles and collisions are different, the blueprinting process for each repair can remain consistent. It is important that once the process starts, the same blueprinting process must be followed on each vehicle. However, this does not mean that the blueprinting process cannot evolve and change. Once the blueprinting process is in place, there will be steps in the process that may require modification and improvement.

The biggest challenge to implementing the blueprinting process may be the staff's perception of what will be involved. We have discussed how changing perceptions is an important step to the successful implementation of the blueprinting process. The goal is that once the blueprinting process is implemented, there will be complete and safe repairs on time every time.

This article first appeared in the December 3, 2012 edition of the I-CAR Advantage Online.

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