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Stacey Phillips

Stacey Phillips photoStacey Phillips is a freelance writer for the automotive industry based in Southern California. She has 20 years of experience as an editor including writing in a number of businesses and fields.


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Monday, 20 November 2017 22:56

The Best Body Shops' Tips: ‘The Basics of Blueprinting’: Leading to Better Cycle Times, Improved Efficiency, More Accurate Estimates

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By implementing the blueprinting process, collision repairers are finding that hidden damage can often be uncovered before the vehicle is repaired. 

John Shoemaker, business development manager for BASF, said that blueprinting can lead to better cycle times, improved efficiency and a more accurate estimate. During the SEMA show in Las Vegas, Shoemaker shared blueprinting tips with body shop owners and managers who attended his Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) seminar: “The Basics of Blueprinting.” 

“Hidden damage is the number one reason for delays in the repair process,” said Shoemaker. “Blueprinting is a team effort that involves the estimator, the body technician, the painter and your parts people. When you’re finished with the blueprinting process, you will want to have a really clear definition of what’s going to happen to that vehicle and how all the pieces come together.”

He said there are five main objectives to blueprinting: developing an accurate plan of repair that identifies all labor operations; communicating the repair requirements to all departments; devising a schedule for repair; putting together a plan for resource utilization; and eliminating work stoppage.

Some of the useful tools to consider having on-hand during the blueprinting process include a point of use cart, which eliminates errors as well as trips back and forth to the office; a camera; a tread depth gauge; measuring and blend tools; dent viewer boards; system scanners to verify trouble codes and diagnose restraint system codes; and parts carts. 

15 Steps for Successful Blueprinting:


1. Review initial estimate


Shoemaker stressed the importance of reviewing the initial estimate to triage the repair and determine if tear-down is really necessary. 

“You can find out quickly what the vehicle needs by scanning the estimate,” he said.


2. Map the vehicle


Different marker colors can be used to map a vehicle. For example, use a green marker to indicate operations that have been approved for repair; a yellow marker to show supplement operations; and a red marker to note areas not approved to repair or that are identified as pre-existing damage. Shoemaker said shops can visually enhance the repair plan using circles, arrows or short notes and write customer requests or repair messages on the windshield.


3. Verify vehicle information and take preliminary photos 


When verifying the vehicle information, Shoemaker said to look at the make, model, trim level decoding, mileage, production date, exterior and interior color of the vehicle. He said that one of the most critical things to do during the process is verify the preliminary photos, which should include four separate shots that capture each corner of the vehicle in a photo, as well as photos of the license plate, the instrument cluster, one with the engine running, dash warning lights and mileage, VIN plate and production date. 


4. Pre-scan diagnostics


A pre-scan of the vehicle will locate any diagnostic trouble codes with the vehicle. 


“That’s where you are going to pick up your time, by finding issues in front of the repair” said Shoemaker. “Through the OEM process, you’re going to find a ‘tree.’ Some people call it a rabbit hole. The time you’re going to bill for is based on how far down that rabbit hole you’re going to have to go to correct the trouble code.” 


He recommends having fully charged batteries before conducting any scan. In addition to a pre-scan, Shoemaker said a post-scan of the vehicle will verify the need for recalibration. 


5. Damage review


When conducting a damage review, Shoemaker recommends starting at the end with the most damage and working panel by panel to the opposite end of the vehicle to identify the repairs needed. Part of the repair process includes a review of the Procedural Pages (P-pages), which describe the included and non-included labor operations. The Society of Collision Repair Experts (SCRS) Guide to Complete Repair Planning is a free resource available on the SCRS website and includes operational reminders for the collision repair industry.


6. Disassemble for repair


First, Shoemaker recommends positioning your parts cart to store all the parts removed and separate the usable from the unusable. Place the clips in labeled bins and identify any that are broken. 


“Disassemble with reassembly in mind,” said Shoemaker. “We want to disassemble completely so when you go to put it back together, you’ve got every single thing you need.” 


7. Perform the R&I (remove and install) process


Repair access can include headlamps, mounting brackets, windows and Interior trim while refinish access includes door handles, weather strips and fender liners. 


“Make sure to include this information in the line notes,” said Shoemaker. “The estimate is a communication device that tells everybody what you are doing and why.”


8. Inspect lighting and wiring


The number one CSI complaint, according to Shoemaker, regards lamps. As a result, he recommends inspecting all wiring harnesses for kinks/breaks, looking for broken bulbs and identifying the number of broken wires in the line note. A parts line can be added for connectors, tape and solder. 

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