Automated inventory control system launched by icoat

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By Jeff Sanford

Toronto, Ontario — February 22, 2016 — The collision repair industry continues to delve deeper into the digital world. Wayne Brady, CEO of icoat, has announced his company is offering a new cloud-based inventory control system for collision repair facilities.

“We have launched our fully-automated collision inventory system in Canada,” said Brady in an interview with Collision Repair magazine. The digital system manages and controls incoming and used inventory for collision centres through fully-secure, digitally-accessed cabinets that automatically reorder supplies that Brady says will be an “awesome advantage” for subscribers.

“This is a must see because of its complete control for collision centre owners,” said Brady in the interview. “What it is, really, is an inventory solution. It’s real-time, cloud-based system that allows shop owners to carefully control their inventory.”

Brady has partnered with a US-based software manufacturer who developed the system. icoat is the first to bring it to market in Ontario. The system comes with secure cabinetry to ensure that all supplies taken are being used in the facility.

“Each technician has to have a security card to get in. You have to scan material out so that nothing is unaccounted for,” said Brady. “It’s pretty amazing. You can monitor the inventory right down to individual job invoices. It gets right down to the level of the individual job. Paint, filler, anything.” The system was specifically designed for the collision repair industry. 

Brady says an inventory control system such as this helps not only to track consumption, but to reduce it as well.

“It’s very flexible. They can really save with this system. Material tracking is one of the key benefits. When you move to something like this, you reduce your consumption, because everyone know they’re being watched. Everyone knows that the exact amount of material they’re using is being tracked,” said Brady. “This is part of the lean tech revolution.”

Not to say this is simply of benefit to the owner of the shop. Brady points out the system is, “… as much for the painter as much for the technician … when guys are fighting to get paid for what they do, it gives them the data to show they’ve done the job.”

The first system has already been installed at Beau’s Autoeverything in Essex, Ontario. “We just put it in there. We want to learn from that,” says Brady. In the case of the Essex shop they went all out. “We decided to manage all of their hard parts for them as well. Everything gets scanned that is used on a job. Everything, right down to clips and fasteners. It’s all inventoried,” said Brady.

He says the system can help collision centres reduce the amount of inventory they hold.

“We put in the secure cabinets. You can go from ten cabinets in a shop down to just one or two. The shop gains more floor space,” he says. Best of all, the system reorders automatically. “We come in and work with the shop to get it set up. Once it’s set up, it automatically re-orders all your product for you.”

The big benefit to shop owners is that there is a new level of information available. “It’s pretty awesome. It’s information that these owners have never had before. Especially at a time when everyone is heading toward lean manufacturing processes,” said Brady.

The system can time and date stamp when things are use. If you don’t want a tech in a certain cabinet, you can lock them out of that. Or the tech can be locked out of a cabinet after hours and on weekends. Better yet, the system opens up time for training.

“If you have ten techs you can track by technician and hours spent on the job. That way you can track their performance and make coaching decisions about who needs more training,” says Brady.

Bringing this system into Ontario has already changed the way his company does business. Brady sold industrial paint for fifteen years. Over the last five he has got into the collision repair industry.

“The collision business is different. We talk to the techs and do training as well. Our guys stop at these shops once a week to monitor their inventory needs. This system cuts that out. Because we’re reordering automatically our guys can focus on training and technical issues instead. There is a massive appeal in that,” said Brady. “Shop owners don’t have enough time to do everything they have to do. This can help save time and open up some time for training.”

According to Brady the use of the system is allowing his operation to do more for the shop owner.

“We staff a higher level of people. Our guys are more than just order takers. There are real benefits for our customer on that. We don’t just sell paint,” he said. “We’re a source of intelligence in this market. They’re complete advisors.”

Today, the company does various types of training, including StreetSmart management training, along with CIIA training with John Norris and I-CAR training. “We’re really trying to support that,” said Brady. “icoat feels that with the constant changes in this industry, intelligent choices are going to be the prime separators between collision repair shops.”

It’s all about keeping a business lean. Relying on digital technology to reduce the fat in a business is just another option for profit-minded shop owners.

For more information, please visit icoat.ca.

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