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Spray gun vs iPhone. What a dilemma.

This blog post is not about the new technology in automotive repair industry, nor about its challenges or best practices. This post is about a crisis we definitely have in our industry. This is the human resource crisis. No matter how precise the color matching is, or how fast clearcoats dry, if we don’t have skilled, motivated and proud painters, the industry’s future is not bright. In fact, this post blog comes as a continuation of one of my recent articles “The biggest challenge in the collision repair is to keep it young.”

Just last week we had a round of presentations of new Devilbiss spray gun DV1 on the field. Usually I enjoy this part of my job. What can be better than a direct, unfiltered contact with the end users of your products? While the presentations were “business as usual” , one encounter left me very concerned and in doubt.

My sales manager and I visited a very typical for Greece bodyshop. Average size, family owned workshop of three people. The painter was actually the owner’s son, and the next generation of the business. After initial formalities and casual chat, I asked the young guy about his spaying equipment arsenal. It turned out that he is using two spray guns for basecoat and clearcoat applications. One was a Devilbiss GTI – the very first model of the iconic blue spray gun by the British manufacturer. The other piece was a SATA 2000 model. Both spray guns were purchased many years ago by the painter’s father, and they have obviously seen better days. Looks like a good potential customer, you may think. I thought the same exact thing. However, the youngster looked very indifferent and reluctantly asked for the price. The average retail price for a premium spray gun, regardless of the brand is slightly above 700 Euro in our part of the world. If you take in account that with a quality piece of equipment like Devilbiss DV1 or SATA Jet 5500 (I don’t mention other brands, but the list is not all-comprehensive) one could save massively on materials consumption, improve color matching on difficult metallic colors and decrease re-works, purchasing such gun is a no-brainer. Well, for me at least. However, my prospect customer had a different opinion.

“That is too expensive”, he replied indifferently and took a brand new iPhone XS Max out of his pocket. He started clicking through some Viber messages and turned his back to us. Our pitch came to an end.

En route back to my office I was thinking a great deal about this young man. I wasn’t thinking about the rejection. No. If you are in sales, you know that rejection is just a part of everyday life. What stroke me most is that the “professional” painter didn’t show any interest for something new in his industry. It wasn’t the question of money, of course. Someone who can afford buying an expensive gadget worth about 1300 Euro, can afford investing in his job. Unlike pricy phone, the last technology spray gun (or any other piece of equipment) will earn him money. The problem is that investment in his work is not something he wishes to do, and it is important to distinguish between investment and pure expenses. Purchasing a piece of equipment is definitely an investment. Buying a new phone, unless you are mobile app developer, is an expanse.

To conclude, I would like to say that there are people in our industry who struggle to make both ends meet. Probably not everyone, especially in crisis-hit Greece, can buy a DV1 or similar spray gun. However, a serious sprayer would rather save money for a gun, rather than for a phone. This is my humble opinion.Chances are that this bodyshop will not survive until the next generation, unless the owner changes his attitude.

 

Collision repair management 101: Part 4 – Invest smart.

In this post, I will try to address a very important issue for every bodyshop, regardless of its size or location – the issue of investment. In “Collision repair management 101” series I have stressed my vision that any collision repair workshop must follow general rules of business management. It is a big mistake to think that spraying cars is kind of special and unique trade, which has nothing in common with the rest of the business world. As it was discussed in the previous posts, whether we talk about fixed or variable costs and cash flow, a bodyshop manager should apply the same methods of management as bank or travel agency. This is why, when it comes to growth of a given bodyshop, its owner will come up with a question when to invest hard earned bucks into equipment, relocation or human resources, and, most importantly, why to invest.

Types of investments in a collision repair shop.

The first thing that might come up to your mind when thinking about investment in a collision repair industry would be a new spray booth or other equipment. While investing in equipment and tools is definitely a significant issue, it is not the only area where your money can be invested. For example, moving to a new or bigger location or the renovation of the existing place, is, no doubts, a wise investment. Another very important aspect I would like to refer is training of personnel. With new car body materials, VOC regulations, innovative materials and tools, training of your staff can hardly be overestimated.

return-on-investment

Return on investment

Perhaps many of you associate return on investment (ROI) as a term for stocks or bonds market. However, in plain English, return on investment is a number, which in measurable way shows us what will be the benefit per each dollar spent on it. Let me bring you some examples.

Imagine a medium-size bodyshop with one painter and two prep guys. The shop is very busy and the owner estimates that he loses about 25% of extra revenue due to the limited capacity. Therefore, he is considering investing in a second spray booth. Sounds logical up to now. Now let’s consider the costs of the investment as total. The cost of a spray booth with installation is 35.000 Euro (or USD), then at least one painter and one prep person must be hired with a total yearly cost of about 40.000 Euro. Now the bodyshop’s turnover is 500.000 Euro and expected additional business due to higher capacity is expected to be 125.000 Euro annually. With an average operating profit of 35%, the investment will bring about 43.750 Euro net profit.  It may look attractive in the beginning, if we do not consider additional salary costs. Yet, if we take into consideration that every year the additional business of 125.000 Euro will need also 40.000 Euro salary expenses, the pay off period for the investment will be about 7 years. It is crucial to calculate all the related costs. Is the period of 7 years good enough? Can we increase the turnover with other means (infrared lamps, for example)? Is our prediction of increase in turnover by 25% well justified?

Let me bring to your attention another investment example, of a much smaller case. For example, a painter in bodyshop X wants to buy a new model of premium quality spray gun for basecoat application. He expects that the new spray gun will save about on average 15% of a material sprayed. The cost for this spray gun is 450 Euro. On average, the painter is spraying 2 liters of paint every day with the cost on 1L about 45 Euro. The new spray gun will save to the painter 13.5 Euro from the cost of the paint each day (2L x 45 Euro x 15%), therefore in a month of 23 working days the bodyshop will save 310.5 Euro, meaning that in about 45 days the cost of the purchase will fully covered by the savings in paint. Not bad at all, taking into account that the new spray gun will also improve colour matching and overall quality of spraying. From my experience, investing in the new spraying equipment usually has the highest and quickest return on investment in any bodyshop.

I hope that it is vital for car body repair professionals to invest their time for budgeting, planning and management tasks. Office work is as important as repairing cars. Benjamin Franklin once said: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” I couldn’t agree more.

 

 

 

What if you could only have one spray gun?

I really love to make assumptions of different kind. What if … I was invisible, what if I was a millionaire, what if you had limitless resources for your paint shop or bodyshop? The last one actually was a title for my blog post sometime ago. Here is another one: “What if I had just one spray gun for all my jobs?”

I sell spraying equipment for bodyshops for quite a long time now. Modern spray guns producers compete in consumption, ergonomics and design. New, sexy models appear virtually every year, tempting us to buy one. It is almost like with new models of smart phones, so when a new one comes, you absolutely need it. However, if you could only have a choice to keep one, what spray gun would it be? Please do not misunderstand me; I do not advocate using one and only spray gun in any bodyshop, big or small. Far from it, I suggest that spray guns are vital tools of a trade, and a sprayer absolutely must have minimum three guns: one for basecoats, one for clearcoats, and one for more viscose materials like fillers and primers.

What if

Which technology to choose from?

Before actually picking the preferred model, I would like to say a few words about the atomization technology, which is the most versatile to spray different coatings, both basecoats and clears. Remember the assumption, only one gun for all final coating jobs!

Unfortunately, in our industry we have in general a problem with standardizations (recall the post about MS and HS clearcoats)? Similarly, categorization of different spraying technologies is prone to questionable terminology. I will simplify and distinguish three main spray gun systems:

  • High pressure
  • HVLP
  • Trans-Tech or RP (reduced pressure). You can also meet a term LVLP, which means Low Volume Low Pressure, but it is not as common.

High-pressure spray guns choice I would drop first for its high material consumption and non-compliance to various legislations.

HVLP or Reduced Pressure?

By definition, they key difference between two technologies is that HVLP uses lower pressure in air cap, which is compensated with high volumes of air to atomize and deliver the paint with desirable finish results. Trans-Tech (or RP) alters the balance between pressure and air volume. Air cap pressure in RP is about 2,5 times higher (about 1.6 Bar), and therefore less air volume is needed (smaller compressor output as well required). Putting aside all technicalities, Trans-Tech spray guns allow us to spray better than HVLP such materials as HS and UHS clearcoats, without compromising the quality of basecoat application though. I vote for Trans-Tech/High Efficiency (Devilbiss), RP (SATA) or similar technology.

Gtipro Lite

Which spray gun is the one and only?

I have to admit that after being a distributor for Devilbiss equipment for more that ten years, I am bias. If I had to choose just one spray gun for application the final coatings in my bodyshop, it would be GTIPRO LITE TE10 with 1.3 fluid tip. Here is why:

– TE10 High Efficiency is probably the most all-around air cap in Devilbiss range. It is highly recommended for spraying both basecoats and clears (including UHS) by the majority of leading paint brands.

– Ergonomic gun body

– Lightweight – only 446 gms

– GTIPRO Lite gives the possibility to switch easily between different nozzles without the need to change the air cap.

– Low air consumption – 270 l/min

– Low material consumption

– Smooth, kick free control

 

And what is your spray gun of choice?

 

7 tips for collision repairs during hot season.

written by Alexandros Aslamazis 

In most of the countries in the Northern Hemisphere, summer is in the middle and temperatures reached the peak. Unfortunately, not all of us are on holidays, so business in body shops continues, despite the “beach mood”. Below you will find seven short tips, which may help you to deal with problems caused by extreme weather conditions during the summer.

  1. Cool down your compressor.

As temperature rises, excessive water in the compressed air system inevitably occur. Thus, many sprayers face the problem of water blisters in their paint job. To minimize this problem, make sure that your compressor is placed in cool place, not under direct sun or closed place with poor air circulation. For more information on this issue, please check here an article I wrote some time ago about this subject.

  1. Choose cooler times of the day for color spraying.

Plan your prep jobs so that most of actual spraying will be done in the mornings or in the evenings, when temperatures go down.

  1. Mix your 2K coating materials using appropriate slow hardeners and thinners.

Using too fast hardeners and thinners may cause a lot of paint defects like swelling, loss of gloss, solvent boil, orange-peel effect, overspray, clouding, water spotting and moisture blisters.  Most of the car refinishing materials brands have slow thinners and hardeners in their range, so check TDS of the products you use in order to choose the right mixture according to the outside weather conditions.

  1. Avoid using so-called express or fast primers and clearcoats even for spot repair jobs.

In many paint systems, you can find special products dedicated for spot repairs, which offer fast drying results. In normal conditions, these materials are very useful, however during the summer it is better to avoid using them, since many of the above-mentioned paint defects may appear.

  1. Pay attention to the humidity levels.

In certain climates, heat is accompanied by very high humidity, which may affect drying times and surface wetting during spraying process. For example, waterborne basecoats are very sensitive to humidity levels. In case of high humidity use, spray gun with HVLP technology. Air cap based on HVLP technology delivers higher airflow, which in turn helps to achieve drier application.

  1. Do not proceed with polishing or nib removal job on a hot surface.

Cool down the car surface to be polished or buffed. Polishing process raises the temperature of the surface, so hot already clearcoat will “burn down” in matter of seconds, causing loss of glass and matting.

  1. Do not skip using personal protection products like disposable masks, overalls and gloves.

It is true that working in high temperature conditions is not a pleasant task; however, potential occupational health problems outweigh by far any discomfort caused by wearing protection equipment. We recommend using disposable masks with air valve to keep wearer’s face cooler.

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Happy painting everyone!

5 gifs ideas for car painter

This is the last post for 2014. I thank everyone who took time to read and comment on my articles. I hope that 2015 will bring peace, prosperity and health to our troubled world. I don’t feel like writing too long post on some technical staff or bodyshop management. It is time to relax, take time with your family, kids and … make presents to your loved ones, and, why not, to yourself. You deserved it anyway. So, whether you have some fellow car painter or panel beater, or you just want to make yourself a little happier these days, find below my 5 suggestions for gifts:

  1. A good coffee machine. 

coffee machine

The vast majority of us like coffee. This divine drink is widespread and I have seen it in every single bodyshop I visited worldwide. However, most of the times bodyshop guys drink something very distant to a nice espresso or cappuccino. Luckily, nowadays one can find a great variety of great design and affordable coffee making machines, which within minutes will serve you with wonderful coffee. And, next time you will have a customer or business associate visiting you, a nice cup of freshly made coffee may give you even a small competitive advantage.

  1. Wireless headphones.

wireless headphones

Regardless of what type of music do you prefer, it will make your hard work (and, yes, sometimes work in bodyshop is very hard) a little easier. If most of MP3 players now are quite small, they come with those nasty long wires from headphones, which will hinder your work. This is why wireless headphone would be a great gadget to have for any car painter.

  1. A set of personal protection equipment.

air fed visor

There is no better way to show that you care about a person than to make a present with the last technology personal protection. Half-mask or air-fed visor are the best options. What is important, this gift will also remove all excuses for not using breathing protection.

  1. A ticket for a (football, soccer, rugby etc) match.

tickets

Bodyshop is a men’s world, whether we like it or not. And men like sports. Football is the most important and popular sport in continental Europe, for example. Check when his favorite team is playing (preferably some important game or final) and book the ticket.

  1. A new spray gun.

Devilbiss gti pro lite

Well, this one is closely related to a painter’s everyday job. For many car sprayers their spray guns (you should really check some Facebook posts with spray guns arsenal on display) is a subject of pride. The last model of his favorite spray gun brand will be highly appreciated. Consider special edition gun, engraving his name or short wish to make it exclusive.

 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year my dear readers!

 

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