There are a few universal keys to success in the collision repair industry. You must have quality techs, a productive shop, an accurate estimating process and a great reputation. But even the best techs and procedures are destined to fail if your facility isn’t equipped with the right auto body repair tools.
The equipment in your shop ultimately determines whether you will be able to efficiently repair your customers’ vehicles, and also attract talented employees. But what should you look for when shopping for tools? Let’s take a look at three of the most important pieces of equipment and see which features can help you build a solid foundation to succeed.
A proper repair starts with a comprehensive estimate developed using a high-quality computerized measuring system. Since today’s vehicles are designed to transfer collision forces around the passenger compartment, damage is rarely limited to the point of impact. That’s why it is important that your measuring system is capable of measuring the entire vehicle.
While measuring an entire vehicle for every estimate might sound like a major time commitment, today’s measuring systems come with several features to speed up the process. Look for multi-point systems, such as LaserLock, that can measure an entire vehicle at once, and out-of level capabilities that greatly reduce setup time.
The best measuring systems also use up-to-date vehicle specifications. With this data, your shop can be prepared to return even the newest cars and trucks to OEM specs.
To ensure a vehicle is properly returned to OEM specs, you must use an OEM-approved spot welder. Many of these welders, such as Chief’s MI100Control-T welder, feature automatic modes that detect what material is being welded and adjust current level, weld time and clamp pressure during use. These welders provide perfect spot welds every time, reducing the chance of costly mistakes.
True automatic welders also save time, because the technician does not have to enter information about material thickness and the type of weld, or stop to reprogram the welder every time the tips are changed.
No discussion about auto body repair tools would be complete without talking about the heart of a collision repair shop: the frame rack.
Your frame rack’s capabilities have a significant effect on which jobs you say “yes” to and which ones you have to turn down. That’s why many shops maximize capacity and buy the largest rack that will fit in the bay. These heavy-duty frame racks can be used to repair a wide range of vehicles, from small cars through SUVs and full-size trucks. To further improve productivity, consider investing in small racks for a few bays. Since not all jobs require the pulling power of a full-size rack, adding a few smaller pulling systems to reverse light-hits and to serve as all-purpose service lift/workstations can help decrease cycle times. Ask your equipment distributor for help in planning a shop layout for maximum productivity.
With the right measuring system, spot welder and frame rack in place, you can start focusing on improving cycle times and getting the most out of your shop. These three auto body repair tools will be used on a daily basis and have a large influence on the long-term success of your facility, so be sure to do your homework before investing.