Learning Zone

How to Improve Your Workshop’s Efficiency

By Ellen Sowerby
25 January 2021

A well-run workshop can provide many benefits, including reduced costs and downtime.

While it’s often presented that running your own workshop is nothing but a managerial headache, they also represent a great opportunity.

A well-run workshop is a strong asset that can provide you with direct control over your fleet servicing and maintenance.

Some fleets even use their workshops as a profit centre by providing contract maintenance services to external customers. If you already run a shop there are a number of potential gains to be made by taking steps to improve its efficiency – including reduced costs and downtime.

 

So how exactly do you improve workshop efficiency?

One of the most important tips for improving shop efficiency is to make sure you understand what is available in your operation at all times. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it, so take steps to improve the visibility of your assets.

Gaining visibility is a process that starts from the bottom up: you need to have a solid overview of everything from service histories, maintenance schedules, parts inventory and warranty coverage through to workshop equipment, technicians (and their capabilities) and vehicles.

1. Firstly, it’s important to take time to research how you currently track and measure asset availability, jobs and costs.

2. Then, assess how your processes could be improved. Be honest with yourself – are you able to track and measure all costs associated with a vehicle, a maintenance or repair event or a shop facility? If a part was needed, could it be easily located? Time is money so the longer team members spend looking for items, the more costly jobs become.

3. Once you understand where improvements could be made, you can take steps to fix problems and resolve issues

 

Get better at scheduling

 Utilisation is everything. Making sure your workshop is always busy, and that vehicles are coming in, getting fixed quickly and are back on the road is a fine art. But when it works well, it can make your business impressively efficient.

And it’s not just vehicles: it’s stock too. It is important to ensure that you aren’t left waiting for stock to come in; but also having excess or obsolete stock can prove very costly.

So understanding how your assets are used and replenished is the first step in creating more appropriate scheduling for your operation and helping ensure your workshop is well-utilised both now and in future.

We think it’s important to take a range of factors into account, such as:

  •     Inventory turnover
  •     Real-time parts availability
  •     Usage trends and forecasts
  •     Replenishment time
  •     And more…

Make sure that these factors are assessed on a regular basis, as this will help you identify any new trends or issues as soon as they occur. The need for effective scheduling also applies to staff utilisation, which brings us to our next point….

Get better at staff planning

 

It’s a somewhat cliched phrase, but your staff are probably the most expensive resource used by your workshop, so it’s vital that you make sure your technicians are managed effectively.

 

This means having procedures in place for sick days, holidays and other absences to minimise disruption. You should also understand your team’s availability and training levels and plan well ahead by cross-referencing staffing against forecast requirements. 

 

We also suggest you look carefully at your fleet’s maintenance needs too – it could be that your fleet’s maintenance needs are seasonal, or they are affected by recalls and campaigns, so take steps to increase your knowledge of such trends.

 

Get better at job card creation

 

An accurate job always starts with an accurate repair order. Your technicians will perform more efficiently if they know exactly what they should be doing to which vehicle and when. Industry standard repair times can also be utilised to support job creation and implementation.

 

When creating job cards, you should also take steps to ensure that all the information required is easily available. If a technician is not able to easily view or understand job requirements, it could result in increased job times and costs, reduced compliance and much more.

 

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