Reducing Repair Durations One Spray at a TimeMon, 09/01/2014 - 16:02
The vehicle refinishes and repair industry in Mexico has historically been provided for by a wealth of small informal outlets, which is changing as global suppliers are offering better access to the latest in painting materials and application technology nationwide. Sherwin-Williams’ Automotive Finishes Division is one such provider and the company is using its global focus to deliver innovative products to Mexico that help improve performance and reduce cycle times. Today the company has the largest distribution network in Mexico in terms of automotive products, with more than 1,500 distributors nationwide. Sherwin-Williams’ Director of Marketing for the Automotive Finishes Division, Arturo Patiño, explains how the company has been attempting to innovate. “We are looking to deliver products that reduce repair times. A couple of years ago, we released the HPC-15 Clear Coating, which dries in 15 minutes. There is no other product like it in the market right now.” This innovative paint line does not require a spray booth for application or another heat source for curing. Removing the requirement to place the vehicle in an oven to dry the paint saves both time and money, reducing the overall cost of the repair. “We have also developed our High-Productivity Process line, which allows the customer to perform a small repair in 40 minutes from primer to clear coat finish. This helps to increase productivity at the body shops. We are also focused on using waterborne greener products,” says Patiño.
When it comes to the smaller body shops, access to new technology is not the only barrier as the costs involved with upgrading material lines are also often prohibitive. Patiño explains that while the higher technology finishing lines are indeed more expensive, the reality is that only 7% of the repair cost comes from the paint. “Energy costs are a big part. When you reduce energy expenses through the use of such products, you are actually saving money. The costbenefit ratio is very attractive,” says Patiño. That being said, many of the small body shops are focused on using lower priced products to immediately save money. The reality is that a small body shop servicing three cars a week does not have the same time pressure as one that works on 100 cars a week. Customers going to such shops are also often unwilling to pay higher prices solely because better painting technology was used.
Professionalizing the smaller body shops is one way to encourage greater uptake of modern painting technology and the company is taking steps to this end. “For smallersized workshops, we are innovating products, such as flexible primers that are more affordable and include higher technology, which are the sorts of products that help smaller body shops to become more professionalized,” says Patiño. Offering training is another way in which the company is attempting to effect direct change, with Patiño explaining that “Sherwin-Williams has different sources of training, including a fully equipped training center at our corporate headquarters in Mexico City. We train customers in the processes needed to utilize our products correctly, as well as color matching. Furthermore, we have a training van that is unique in the market. This enables us to bring a mobile training center to small body shops and teach these companies how to use new technologies and products. These companies are open to using new technology, but they are not usually being shown how to use it directly.” A big part of the market is made up of under-trained workers that do not have facilities or set practices in place and have very little concept of safety. Therefore, Sherwin-Williams has a strong focus on encouraging the use of safety equipment in order to foster a safety mindset, which can be seen in the training offering.
The smaller body shop segment makes up the bulk of the Mexican market, and Patiño explains that the level of competition is a challenge. “The technology being used by this segment is not new and it is easy for small providers to enter the market. This is why we are focusing heavily on the mid-sized segment. Larger body shops really need to speed up processes so it makes economic sense to use our products.” According to Patiño, the higher end body shops and mid-tier multi-brand body shops that are affiliated with insurance companies are seeing particular growth and are rapidly adopting better technology. He explains that these are opting for higher end technology although they do not necessarily have the higher end equipment and facilities installed yet. For such companies, Sherwin-Williams claims to be able to reduce the overall cost of repairs by 15-20% through improved processes. “Helping clients to reduce associated ancillary costs, such as labor and energy expenses, is a valuable contribution. If we are only focused on reducing product cost, then we would be restricted. Focusing on these savings with high-end body shops is helping us increase our market share, as well as building business with the bus manufacturers,” explains Patiño.
When it comes to technology development, Patiño does not rule out Mexico as a source of innovation. “Last year, we won the bid for the manufacturing of a new type of paint for the Mexico City subway. This required a specific type of product, which was developed in Mexico. As a company, we are looking to have more global products, and these do not necessarily have to be produced in the US. Products produced globally can be utilized in other markets and we are focusing on that development worldwide.”