Keep Them Turning Wrenches

Improving shop productivity largely depends on changing the non-wrench time associated with a repair.

April 2013, - WebXclusive

by Denise Rondini, Aftermarket Contributing Editor - Also by this author

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Before a shop can improve its efficiency, it needs to determine where the problems are. The best way to do that is to map the current process.
Before a shop can improve its efficiency, it needs to determine where the problems are. The best way to do that is to map the current process.

Every shop wants its technicians to be as proficient and productive as they can. Yet most shops fail to see the things that are getting in the way of achieving this goal.

Mark Martincic, professional advisor at KEA Advisors, defines technician proficiency as billed hours versus clock hours for the time the technician is at work.

Not all of the technician’s time is billable, and according to Michael Riemer, vice president products and channel marketing for Decisiv, 80% of the time associated with a typical repair is non-wrench time.

“When most people think about maintenance and repair, they think about the technician and the cost of fixing the truck," Riemer says. "Unfortunately, what they miss is that there is more time, cost and resources tied up in non-productive activity, which actually drives technician productivity down, shop efficiency down and downtime up."

Both Riemer and Martincic agree that this is the place where most shops can make changes that will greatly boost technician proficiency.

“If I have a productivity issue, I have to do a better job getting parts to the technician quicker, be pro-active with my dispatching, know when the technician is going to finish a job so I can get the next truck ready for him, etc.,” Martincic says.


Martincic says service providers need to concentrate on four areas to improve their service department's efficiency:

  1. the parking lot/ keys
  2. parts
  3. special tools/shop organization
  4. communication flow

The goal with the parking lot and keys is to have things organized so that the technician does not have to spend 20 minutes locating the truck he is supposed to be working on and getting it into the bay – because that is 20 minutes that can’t be billed to a customer.

How parts flow through the shop is another area that impacts efficiency. Many shops still have technicians leaving the bay to go to the parts counter to order parts or find out parts pricing. Unfortunately, oftentimes the parts counterman does not see the technician as a priority, and the technician may have to wait while the counterman answers phone calls from wholesale customers before he finds out if the parts he needs are available.

Another time-waster is the inability to locate a special tool needed to complete a repair. Walk through many shops and you will see things like jack stands or other special tools in the aisle instead of in a tool room. If a technician has to wander the shop to find a tool, he is wasting valuable time.

Next Page: The communication process


  1. 1. ron weiler [ April 17, 2013 @ 05:56AM ]

    this is a very good and true story but hard to follow. I liked it good reminder


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