What is Lean Thinking?: A recap of Dave Luehr’s Elite Body Shop Solutions webinar featuring Rich Altieri

Toronto, Ontario — When  it comes to understanding the concept of ‘Lean Thinking,’ Rich Altieri finds a Karate Kid analogy particularly helpful. 

In the 1984 film, Miyagi initially teaches Daniel how to do karate by making him wax his car, and by repeating the popular phrase: “wax on, wax off.”  

Altieri, the founder of Auto Body Management Solutions and associate mentor at Elite Body Shop Solutions reworked the phrase by saying, “hands on the car, hands off the car.” When your hands are on the car you are adding value and are doing what customers are paying you to do, but when your hands are off the car it’s waste, he said in a Elite Body Shop Solutions webinar on Aug. 25. 

According to Altieri, defined value is “any activity, labour, parts and materials that physically moves the damaged vehicle towards its pre-damaged condition, done correctly the first time and are willing to pay for it.”

And, waste is any activity, labour, and materials customers dont value and don’t pay for. However, he noted that not all waste is bad, some is actually essential, for instance, meetings, training, and customer service are considered essential waste, because the customer is necessarily paying for it but it is needed to keep the business running. 

It’s the non-essential waste and what he often calls “the junk in the trunk” you have to look out for, which could be missing parts, rework of any kind, discovery of additional damage during production, missing hardware, etc. 

Altieri also showed some shocking data about how time is actually spent in a shop. He says that the average body shop only spends about two hours in 24-hour day doing defined value work, which is the actual repairs of the vehicles; the other 10 hours is spent on essential waste, and the rest (12 hours) is spent on non-essential waste. 

He noted that many technicians believe that they spend six hours a day doing actual repairs, but based on his 15 years of experience helping shops understand the concept of lean thinking with PPG, even the best-of-the-best shops are only doing two to three hours of defined value work in a 24-hour day. 

The good news, however, was that he offered a few tips and tricks on how shops can use their time more effectively. 

There are three ways to improve value added touch time and cycle time, he said. You can lower your WIP (have fewer jobs in progress), increase delivery rate (more vehicles per day) or increase labour hours. 

He says the best way to start doing this is to figure out where you’re at now—in terms of WIP, delivery rate, and labour hours,— so you can see how much change needs to be made. Then make it happen.  

He also noted that continuous work is very essential in improving productivity. In a perfect world the same technician would work on the same vehicle until its complete because it dramatically speeds up the process, he says. 

At the end of the webinar Altieri gave some advice on the next steps on what participants should do now with all the knowledge they’ve obtained. 

He said shop owners should have a lunch and learn session with their staff and play the recorded version of this webinar so they understand what you are trying to achieve. Next, you should start gathering information on your daily car count, delivery rate, and cycle times, then review them with your team and figure out ways to improve them and plan a specific plan of action. 

For those who were unable to attend the live event can watch the recorded webinar by joining the Elite Body Shop Academy for free.

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