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‘Circular’ shop floor increases efficiency

Since opening its £2m accident repair centre at Scotswood Road in Newcastle, the Patterson Motor Group has seen its turnover for the facility double from £2m in 2004 to £4m last year.

The two-storey building stands on a 2.5-acre site and incorporates a 16,500 square foot working area on the ground floor, alongside office space. The upper floor houses the bodyshop’s customer contact centre and a training facility.

Patterson group invested £500,000 in equipment, which includes new ovens, spraybooths and a fully extracted preparation base. A Smart (small to medium area repair technique) facility was also included, which allows customers needing minor repair work to be fast-tracked.

Steve Charlton, general aftersales manager at the bodyshop and project manager for the new build, says: “Since moving to the new site in November 2004 we have taken on four new productives, but what really makes the new work space so great is the design of the shop floor – everything works in a circular exercise.

“When the cars come in and are stripped, they are moved sideways to the panel and then painting areas. From there they enter a drive-through oven and go straight into the fitting area. This means the cars are never parked up and just go in a continuous cycle through the workshop, which is very efficient.”

For quality control there are separate valet sheds, with space for four cars, where quality inspection takes place.

Charlton says the aim for 2007 is to repair 4,500 vehicles, an average of 86 per week. He says: “That’s not including the total losses, which would amount to an extra 25-30% on top of the repairs.”

Charlton believes this will result in the bodyshop achieving an increase in turnover of around £250,000 for 2007.

The Patterson bodyshop works with all the major insurers including Norwich Union, Royal Bank of Scotland, the Royal, Zurich, Group AMA and WNS. It also has Ford and Fiat manufacturer approval and is currently in talks with two other car manufacturers, including one prestige brand, to gain approval.

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