Waterborne reduces cycle time and increases profits for Sapaugh GM - Article in partsandpeople.com!

(the following is pulled from an article on PartsandPeople.com from April 1, 2014):


Herculaneum, Mo.—Since taking the reins of the body shop at Sapaugh GM Country, Manager Mike Wolk has been able to reduce cycle time and increase profitability through improved processes and a switch to PPG waterborne paint. 


Wolk, who was an estimator at a St. Louis dealership collision repair center for 10 years and a painter at a Kenworth truck dealership before that, said he had grown accustomed to receiving a high level of service from Cooper Color while he was at the previous dealership. When he arrived at Sapaugh and found that the shop had some problems with color match, he said he talked to Cooper Color President Dave Cooper about switching. Cooper pointed out the performance merits of PPG Envirobase High Performance waterborne paint.  


“The color match has been extraordinary compared to what we had before,” Wolk said. “Being a GM dealership, we have a lot of golds and tans, which had been problematic, especially on the sidetones.” 


The metallics in the formulas were finer than what was on the car, Wolk said, which made it difficult to even tint. 


“Now we are dead-on,” he said. “I’ve been amazed at how well it does match, just like the factory.” 


With PPG’s variant decks, a painter has an easier time selecting an appropriate chip from a greater selection, Wolk said, because chips are arranged by not only make but also by color family. 


“If you’ve got a Buick and it’s a gold metallic, you can look it up on Paint Manager and it will locate the chip in the variant deck. Let’s say there are three options for a code. You have that color and variants, but also there in that same deck are colors arranged chromatically from other manufacturers,’” Cooper said. 


Because the chips are sprayed with actual Envirobase HP and not printed with ink or applied using a drawdown bar, the colors sprayed match the variant deck, he added. The PPG Paint Manager touchscreen is not only easier to navigate by the painters, Wolk said, it has made it easier to track usage by RO numbers, and no paint can now be mixed without the painter inputting the RO.   


Latest products and processes speed up production 


Using the latest PPG products and painting parts off of the car when practical have also sped up production and improved quality, Wolk said. 


The Deltron DC2000 Ultra Velocity Clear can be buffed within an hour, and yet doesn’t sacrifice its shine by dying back as some rapid-cure clear coats can, Wolk said. 


“You almost can’t handprint that clear,” he said. “And it lays flatter, so we’re not doing as much buffing as we used to.” 


The three painters paint many parts off the car in one of the four Team Blowtherm booths. That process has required some adjustment from the shop’s body technicians, who also prime the parts; they must now be more careful in handling those parts when they install them. Wary at first, they have now embraced the new practice, Wolk said, for its reduced need for masking and ability to speed up cycle time. 


PPG’s waterborne primer, which lays down in four thin coats instead of a typical two to three for a urethane primer-surfacer, must be air-dried between coats but has a 24-hour pot life, no odor, and can be sanded within 30 minutes. There are no performance pitfalls such as edge-mapping and sand-scratch swelling that can occur when trying to “push” a traditional urethane, Wolk said.   


Profitability and cycle time improved with waterborne switch 


Wolk had heard that it would cost more to move to waterborne and that expensive equipment upgrades would be required. But aside from purchasing a few venturi dryers, hand-held or on a stand, no upgrades to the booths or air supply, which were new when the 25,000-square-foot shop was built 11 years ago, were required. 


“Repaints have been down to nothing,” he said. “It’s helped cycle time a lot because we’re getting cars out quicker now. We don’t have to go back and redo repairs, and we don’t have the painter tied up nearly as much trying to get something to match. There’s just been a great deal of time savings.” 


In fact, Wolk said, the shop has reduced the cycle time of an average repair by two days, in part because of the paint switch and also through improved shop management, aided by the addition of CCC One’s production schedule dashboard, which shows at a glance where vehicles are in production stages by color coding. 


“I can see if I have a couple jobs here that are not quite on track, and if I have a problem I can address it early,” Wolk said. The system also allows the shop to move away somewhat from the traditional “in on Monday, deliver on Friday” business model, he said. 


Cooper said the Paint Shop Interface feature of Paint Manager allows Wolk to create an RO with the insurance information, size of the job, and color code in CCC One and send that information (with no double data entry) back to the Paint Manager computer in advance of the vehicle entering production. The advantage, he said, is that a painter helper could retrieve that information and color-variant deck, confer with the painter on the correct color selection, and mix the paint for the job before it’s needed, minimizing refinishing delays. - 


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