It is not a secret that a body repair shop, regardless of its size, is a business; and every business is designed to make profit for the owner/entrepreneur who invests his money and expects return on his investment. The more profit a bodyshop produces, the better for its stakeholders (the owner, employees, suppliers etc). So, what shall we do to increase the profit? Well, you can write a book of a size of Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”, but without a doubt, if a body shop manager will spot where money go down the drain in a shop’s operations, it will help to optimize the profit. In the first part of this series of articles, I will draw your attention to two of such money drains: paint over mixing and spray gun efficiency.
Mixing paint quantities
Believe it or not, but the waste of materials, which were over-mixed for a particular paint job may increase the overall paint (clear, primer, filler etc) consumption up to 20%. The biggest wastage occurs with 2K materials, which have a very short pot life of a ready-to-use mixture. I have seen many times how a painter was pouring into sink half cup of clear coat, simply because the working day was over and tomorrow the material will be already cured. This is about 200-250gr of the material!
Why it happens?
There are a few reasons why a painter is mixing too much material for a given job:
- Lack of experience with a particular product. As we all know, coverage and consumption from product to product may vary dramatically. For example, UHS clearcoat may need only one full layer with a mist coat to get 60 microns of thickness, while certain MS clears won’t get such a film thickness even in two full coats. The difference between primers and fillers can be even bigger. So, please familiarize yourself with the material you use, study TDS and get used to it. Don’t change the materials used in a bodyshop too often.
- Overall professional incompetence of a sprayer. Unfortunately, badly trained people in a bodyshop are the biggest problem. Every bodyshop owner should invest in people and their constant education concerning the materials and spraying techniques. Some of the paint suppliers provide specially designed software, which helps to estimate the materials consumption per every imaginable type of painting job. Train your people, invest in them!
- Pure laziness of a painter. Yes, unfortunately it happens often that a painter over-mixes materials merely to avoid going back and forth to the mixing room. To avoid such a behavior, there should be established a good system of the materials consumption and inventory control. In addition, a good working culture in the company should be developed, where every worker cares about the overall result and profitability.
Inappropriate spray gun set up and spraying technique
Another common problem related to the material’s excessive consumption is directly linked to a spray gun used by a painter. I will never stop writing about the importance of a spray gun as single most important piece of equipment in a painter’s arsenal.
What are the reasons for the excessive paint consumption related to a spray gun?
- Inappropriate spray gun technology used. For the last two decades the world of automotive refinishing has moved from high pressure spray guns to HVLP and other product saving technologies. However, you could still see in some bodyshops old conventional guns used. Painters just like the atomization, while they ignore that over 60% of the material sprayed never reaches the surface. Use only compliant spray guns with certified transfer efficiency over 65%. Period.
- Using wrong nozzle-air cap set up for a spray gun. It is not enough to acquire the newest technology spray gun, but you should also be able to choose the right nozzle size and air cap. For example, using a nozzle size 1.4 mm instead of recommended 1.2mm will definitely increase the quantity of the material sprayed. Consequently, paint defects like “runs” and “color mismatch” will come a long with the higher than expected material usage. Consult your paint supplier and technical data about the correct spray gun set up. Always shoot some paint or just water on a piece of paper to see the size, shape and consistency of the fan produced by the spray gun. Calibrate your weapon!
- Poor working condition of a spray gun. Even if you have the right settings and the last technology spraying equipment, proper maintenance and cleaning remain crucial for the economy of the paint or clear sprayed. We should not forget to replace the worn out nozzles and needles. Everyday cleaning is a must.
- Incorrect spraying techniques. Provided that your spray gun is in perfect shape, still you can increase the waste of the materials by adopting wrong spraying techniques. The most common mistakes are too slow spraying pace and too much overlapping between the passes. Establish some kind of benchmark for the perfect application techniques, learn from your colleagues and tech reps. New spray gun model may require slight technique adjustments. It is like with a car, when you change your old vehicle on some other model, you alter your driving techniques according to the new car you own.
To be continued.