MSO Spotlight | CSN – CARS and Symach FixLine

MSO Spotlight | CSN – CARS and Symach FixLine
As the first collision shop to install Symach’s FixLine system in North America, CSN–CARS has already seen cycle times reduced by two to three days and productivity increase by 30 percent.

A pressing need to reduce cycle time saw this Burlington collision shop become the first in North America to use a next-generation repair system.

A few years ago, Nick DiLuca, President at CSN – CARS in Burlington, Ont. was facing a significant challenge. Cognizant of the need to cut down cycle times in order to meet industry demands of the future, a new approach in meeting that goal was required.

“With the traditional equipment we had, we looked everywhere. No matter what we did, we could not find a way to reduce our cycle times down from nine days,” says DiLuca.

“In order to have a sustainable business in this industry, you need to bring down cycle time to 6-7 days.”

Having exhausted what seemed almost every possible avenue, a conversation with Dana Alexander of CSN – Dana’s Collision in Fredericton, N.B. proved to have a profound impact on DiLuca and the strategy for the business moving forward.

“Dana knew I was looking to invest for the future and asked if we’d taken a look at Symach in Italy as an equipment supplier. He suggested I get in touch with them to see if they might have something.”

It turns out that DiLuca and Symach’s CEO Osvaldo Bergaglio got along very well, and it wasn’t long before a plan was drawn up to see if CSN – CARS could adopt Symach’s FixLine layout and repair process system.

A suitable solution

DiLuca took a trip to Italy to meet Osvaldo and his team, as well as see FixLine in action. Needless to say, he was impressed. He also felt that the equipment available to CSN – CARS back in North America at the time wasn’t suitable for helping the business cut down its cycle time by two to three days.

In order to get a greater understanding of the Symach system and how it worked, DiLuca dispatched his son and CSN – CARS General Manager Fab to Italy.

While over there, the younger DiLuca got the opportunity to work in a collision shop environment that used the complete Symach setup, including Drytronic technology and the SPAP painting cycle, as part of the FixLine system. He was quickly sold on the idea that using the Symach system back home was the way forward.

The next task, however, was adapting Symach’s FixLine to CSN – CARS back in Burlington.

“There was a six month process of ensuring that the system fit within the walls we had,” says DiLuca. “Because of our location, we aren’t able to expand the building, so we had to work with what capacity we had.”

Additionally, time needed to meet regulatory requirements, ensuring the right people were in place to work with the new system, as well as providing a smooth transition from plan to installation to operation was absolutely critical.

New ground

Making the process more complex was the fact that CSN – CARS was the very first collision centre in North America to use the Symach FixLine system. “It really was new territory for both parties,” says DiLuca.

Official implementation at CSN-CARS began on October 1, 2015 and, by January the following year, the system was operational. Several months down the road, DiLuca says the investment has been well worth it.

“Our cycle times have been reduced to seven days and productivity is up around 30 percent.” He also notes that the system has also resulted in better working hours for the shop’s team, greater touch time per vehicle and more work completed within a shorter time frame.

DiLuca says that while Lean processes and initiatives such as PCE are helping the collision repair industry move forward, combining them with an in-shop repair system and equipment tailored to work with it, like the Spraytron paint booth, car mover, light and curtain systems, is where the real benefits are seen.

“It starts with an effective repair plan,” says DiLuca. “From there it moves into production and once here, there’s no stopping it.”

Same day

Where once it took two hours or even overnight to prime a vehicle and paint it the following day, with the Symach system, vehicles can be prepped, primed and painted within the same day, in some cases within the same hour. A moving line with floor mounted tracks quickly allows the vehicles to be easily moved from one station to the next, rolled into the spray booth and rolled out ready for final clean-up and delivery. In an effort to perhaps illustrate just how fast the process can be, during CSN – CARS’ Open House on June 9, a demonstration during dinner witnessed a car enter the spray booth and leave within 45 minutes. “It was timed between the start of eating dinner and finishing it,” says DiLuca. He also notes that additional benefits include harder, more durable paint finishes, because the pigment cures much faster. “You can actually see the vapour coming off the paint while the vehicle is baking,” says DiLuca. Having successfully pioneered use of the Symach FixLine system, CSN–CARS has now paved the way for more shops in North America to use it, proving that despite the investment required, not to mention the work involved to install it, the results speak for themselves. “We had to dig five feet below the floor in order to install the rails and reinforce the floor,” he says. Showing me how easy it is to maneuver a minivan into the booth, however, and you can see that such homework has clearly paid off. Looking to the future, DiLuca says he plans to install FixLine in another of CSN – CARS’ locations in Burlington, ensuring the business is well positioned to handle both the volume of repairs plus the standards and expectations required—both now and well down the road.

A moving line with floor mounted tracks quickly allows the vehicles to be easily moved from one station to the next, rolled into the spray booth and rolled out ready for final clean-up and delivery.

In an effort to perhaps illustrate just how fast the process can be, during CSN – CARS’ Open House on June 9, a demonstration during dinner witnessed a car enter the spray booth and leave within 45 minutes. “It was timed between the start of eating dinner and finishing it,” says DiLuca. He also notes that additional benefits include harder, more durable paint

He also notes that additional benefits include harder, more durable paint finishes, because the pigment cures much faster. “You can actually see the vapour coming off the paint while the vehicle is baking,” says DiLuca. Having successfully pioneered

Having successfully pioneered use of the Symach FixLine system, CSN–CARS has now paved the way for more shops in North America to use it, proving that despite the investment required, not to mention the work involved to install it, the results speak for themselves. “We had to dig five feet below the floor in order to install the rails and reinforce the floor,” he says. Showing me how easy it is to maneuver a minivan into the booth, however, and you can see that such homework has clearly paid off.

Looking to the future, DiLuca says he plans to install FixLine in another of CSN – CARS’ locations in Burlington, ensuring the business is well positioned to handle both the volume of repairs plus the standards and expectations required—both now and well down the road.

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