Tools and Equipment: Product Perfect


It’s not only acquiring the right equipment but how to use it effectively that counts.
(Photo: Huw Evans)

Maximizing ROI on collision shop equipment.

The faster a shop can get a job done accurately, the more money it can make. And key to that equation is making the best use of tools and equipment.

For example, Mirka Abrasives Canada has a special work cart that holds all the tools and abrasives that a collision technician needs in different sizes. “It creates efficiency because everything is right at hand,” says John Booth, Mirka’s President.

Mirka’s current best sellers are electric sanders. “Many shops now are using electric sanders because they require much less electricity than a pneumatic tool,” says Booth. “They’re more efficient, and they’re also quieter.”

Changing Techniques

And with the introduction of extensive aluminum on the body structures of vehicles like the Ford F-150 and Cadillac CT6, riveting and mig welding is changing. “You’re using rivets where you never used them before to fix a pick-up truck,” says Bob Holland, Director of Collision Sales for North and South America, Chief Automotive Technologies. “And you’re using a double pulsed mig welder. In the last couple of years, with the increase of aluminum, shops really need to have a program intense double pulse welder to weld these types of stack-ups.”

Chief also provides multi-point measuring, multi-point pulling and multi-point holding to make a repair more efficient. “With our measuring machines, we can hook up targets to the whole car at the beginning of the estimate, and those targets stay on throughout the whole repair,” Holland explains. “Instead of having to go back and measure each point every time it moves, all our measurements are live updated on the screen during the course of the repair, almost like a video.”

Towers on the frame racks are mounted to the actual frame rack, so they don’t have to be stored in a corner or connected back into the system. “With multi-point pulling and one electrically operated pump, you control your lift and all of your towers to pull out the damage for those cars that still allow pulling all at once,” says Holland. “This allows you to pull the damage out the same way that it went in, which is an easier and less damaging operation than it is to pull in different directions at individual times. It’s a big advantage for time and quality of the repair.”


Mirka’s range of electric sanders have
mushroomed in popularity.
(Photo: Mirka Abrasives Canada)

Silicone Brass Wire

Over at AB Warehouse, Sales Director Manuel Furtado notes that welders require a special pulse mode in order to work with silicone brass wire, especially when working on metals like aluminum. “Regular wire needs to be heated to 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit, which is very hot and can destroy the properties of the metal,” says Furtado. “Whereas silicone brass only needs to be heated to 800 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s not as hot, so you can weld the new metals without destroying their properties.”

If a collision shop technician continues to do repairs with regular wire, they will overheat the metal, making it brittle and prone to breaking. “We’re informing technicians and collision shop owners that if they don’t have welders with the pulse mode that can work with silicone brass, they won’t be able to properly repair vehicles.”

Effective Use

Besides the equipment itself, training is an integral part ensuring shops achieve maximum ROI for their dollars spent.

At Chief Automotive Technologies, providing training on the firm’s tools and equipment is a thorough process.

“We train in two different ways,” says Bob Holland. “With every piece of equipment that we sell through our North American distributors, training is provided at delivery,” he says. We’ll train on site before leaving, so the shops get enough information to be able to use the equipment safely.”

Additionally, there’s also advanced training offered through the Chief University program in multiple locations throughout Canada and the U.S. “We have about 40 or 50 training locations that are insurance company training headquarters or tech schools that have our equipment,” says Holland. “We train in Toronto, out west in Alberta and British Columbia, as well as the northern U.S.

”There’s also a five-person team dedicated to tech support. “They take customers who have questions or technical issues, or maybe just need some light training,” says Holland. “Usually they’re dealing with computerized measuring customers with a technical product, perhaps a new tech who’s never used it before. We can get someone started over the phone, and make sure that everything’s okay with the measurements he’s doing.”

Hands-on training

At Mirka Abrasives Canada, hands-on training is provided with all equipment. “We survey the shop and identify key areas where our products could help,” says John Booth. “If someone has a piece of equipment that can really help the shop, and provide the training and support, that’s what the shop needs.”

Booth says his team will go in and identify the areas that need improvement. “It could be inconsistency of finish, or people who aren’t trained properly,” he says. “In a larger shop where you’ve got people who have come in from different shops and are using methods from their old shop, you may wind up with three processes to get to the finished product.”

Better Efficiency

Professional shops want consistency in their process, to make it better, in order to reduce their cycle times.

For example, Mirka provides work carts that can make a shop more efficient. “With work carts, people won’t be hunting for materials or using the wrong materials. Everything is organized; it’s in front of the worker,” Booth says. “They have the right system to do the job. That’s what shops need—someone who’s going to identify the right piece of equipment for the shop, provide training and support afterward.”

One of the main reasons that AB Warehouse stocks ProSpot products is due to the support they receive from the manufacturer. “We have the tools and the technicians to provide training, so it’s a complete kit,” says Manuel Furtado, Sales Director at AB Warehouse. “We’ve been in California for a week of training on all the machines, the spot welders, the plastic welders. “

“We’re very proud of our division. It’s not just about selling tools, it’s about providing information, training and support.”

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