For shops or insurers looking to speed up cycle time, the types of parts used may make more difference than any other factor. 

That's the message the Cycle Time Task Force of the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) delivered at a recent meeting held in Boston.

"Parts are probably one of the biggest things that affect cycle time," Gene Hamilton, co-chairman of the task force, said.

Hamilton then shared some of the results of the task force's research comparing availability, delivery, accuracy, damage rates and quality of five different kinds of parts used in collision repair: new OEM, used or salvage, reconditioned or remanufactured, and certified or non- certified non-OEM parts.

New OEM parts, Hamilton said, are generally the fastest to locate, are readily available, have the best fit and finish, and have low damage rates.

Like new OEM parts, remanufactured or reconditioned parts - most commonly bumpers - are also often available within a day in metro areas, Hamilton said, although some suppliers want to pick up and repair the damaged part rather than providing one from inventory. That can create a 3- to 5- day turn-around time. These parts are not always resistant to subsequent damage, and can also impact cycle time if they require more prep time than anticipated, such as when the primer is not compatible with the shop's paint system.

Delivery of used or salvage parts also is often compatible with new OEM parts, Hamilton said, and some suppliers also offer non-OEM parts as well, making them closer to a single-source supplier. But locating and ordering these parts can take longer, and differences of opinion regarding condition can add time to the process. More extensive prep time is required with the parts, including in some cases, stripping of excessive paint build-up.

Most non-OEM parts have higher damage rates because of inferior packaging, Hamilton said. While the fit and finish of certified parts is better than non-certified parts, inconsistency in the parts still forces shops to do test fits prior to refinishing that generally aren't necessary with other types of parts. And too often, Hamilton said, shops are not receiving the certified parts they order.

"If you're on a DRP that is watching your cycle time, and you're getting non- certified parts delivered when you've ordered [certified], you have to make a decision about whether to return it or put it on the car because you can't hurt your cycle time," Hamilton said. "This is one of the biggest issues that we're all facing: What do you do when somebody hands us a part that we've got to have in order to deliver a car, and it's not what we're required to use?"

Other CIC news and discussions

In other news and discussion at CIC in Boston:

  • Chris Dameron, director of the Automotive Service Association (ASA) Collision Division, said that a luncheon during the upcoming International Autobody Congress and Exposition (NACE) that had previously been announced as open only to insurers is open to anyone who wishes to attend.
  • Ric Pugmire of Auto Body World in Phoenix, Arizona, urged CIC participants to read the Allstate-Sterling lawsuit about the new Texas law limiting the growth of insurer-owned shops in that state. Pugmire said he felt some re-sponse from the industry was appropriate.

"Careful reading shows it to be defamatory of the industry, inaccurate, contradictory and probably deserving of some attention on our part," Pugmire said. "It says we're generally crooks and that we need Sterling in order to cure our ills and ensure good quality work."

Chuck Sulkala, executive director of the National Auto Body Council (NABC), the organization working to improve the image of the collision repair industry, agreed, saying NABC is considering what action to take.

"It's absolutely unacceptable when you have that kind of statement [made in the lawsuit], especially from someone that considers themselves a part of this industry."

  • CIC participants voted to endorse a set of "guiding principles" for the many local, state and federal regulatory agencies that oversee collision repair businesses. For example, the thirteen principles, which were developed by the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS), call on regulators to "be impartial and consistent in application of regulation" and to ensure that any penalties or fines be "consistent with the significance of the violation."

Ford fastener kits

  • Ford Motor Company announced it would meet a CIC request to the automakers to make "fastener kits" available. Ford's Steve Nantau said the first kits, available by year's end, would include all the nuts, bolts, rivets or clips needed for front and rear bumpers and fascias on 18 high-volume vehicles, such as the Mustang, Taurus and Windstar models. Similar kits will be available for all 2005 and newer vehicles, and more past model year kits will also be developed.

    "I'm happy to say I have a new appreciation of the difficulty you have identifying fasteners for a repair," Nantau told CIC participants. "I discovered that Ford Motor Company has 11,000 different fasteners available to our engineers and designers."
  • Past CIC Chairman Lou DiLisio said there is concern that some insurers are once again requiring shops participating in their direct repair programs (DRPs) to use a specific estimating system. He said letters to this effect from one or more insurers to shops may prompt the need to renew a CIC task force first created several years ago; in 2001, the task force was successful in derailing efforts that would have limited a shop's ability to use the estimating or other electronic systems of its choice. DiLisio said anyone receiving notice of the need to use a particular system should contact CIC's "New Issues Committee," which is made up of the past chairmen of CIC. Contact information is available at the CIC website (
  • At the December 3 CIC in Orlando, Florida, the Estimating Committee will hold a panel discussion on a hot topic within the industry: materials reimbursement. Committee co-chairman March Taylor said that while paint material capping is a topic being addressed by the industry associations, payment for shop or body materials is also a growing concern.

"On welded panels, anywhere from half to as much as two-thirds of the cost of all materials needed are for those used in the metal department," Taylor said at CIC in Boston in October.

The increasing use of structural adhesives and foams is only going to add to the upward costs of materials used prior to the vehicle entering the paint shop. Taylor said the panel discussion will provide an opportunity to discuss methodologies for calculating needed materials charges.

John Yoswick is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon, who has been writing about the automotive industry since 1988.

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