Managing your Workspace for better production

Tags: Shop Management

Be Sociable, Share! you are working on a vehicle and preparing it for new paint it is important that you follow the proper methods of cleaning the surface or you will end up with paint defects that either cause initial failure or callbacks.

When working in larger shops such as dealership body shops there are often set standards and methods for working on customer cars.

The best thing that I found in larger shops is when you have a vehicle that isn’t totaled but can still be driven that you have a helper wash the vehicle thoroughly before it enters the shop. At one place we actually had our own car wash that was a dedicated double bay with pressure washers and since it was so convenient there was no problem cleaning vehicles before we worked on them.

In other shops normally 5 or fewer technicians it can be a pain trying to keep the shop clean let alone customer cars. However I have seen this same problem in dealerships that have separate buildings for body shops. I remember walking into one where guys thought it was ok to go forever without cleaning up and there were empty boxes covered in weeks worth of filler dust simply laying in the work  area.

It is important to keep your vehicles and workspace as clean as you can for many reasons but the most important one is the quality of work will suffer. If you are tripping over stuff you are going to have a bad day.

So, its important to start with a clean vehicle no matter what you are doing to it and it is important to keep that vehicle clean as you work on it.

If you are doing a lot of bondo or welding or anything on a section of a vehicle and the rest will remain as it is .. meaning you aren’t doing an overall paint job .. then you should use plastic drop cloth to mask off as much of the vehicle as you can while you do your work.

Keep it tight and and make sure you can blow off dust as you work without taring the plastic off the car.

If you need to work on a door or door jam or any part where the customer car will be open then you want to tape off as much of the interior as you can. Cover vents so they don’t fill with dust. Protect the interior so you aren’t wasting time and money restoring them from damage.

Keep your Bench Clean

It is important to always have an open dedicated bench top area for working. You never store parts or boxes or work on this bench you only use it for what you are working on at that exact moment.

By keeping at least one area of bench dedicated to current work only you will never spend time cleaning it off when you need to clamp something down, mix some primer or hit something with a big hammer.

Clean your tools and put them away

You know I am not your mommy but the thing is you have to care for your tools.

If you are working in a professional shop you should always put your tools away clean at the end of the day and continue to do this as you finish with them.

This way you know where they are and they won’t walk off .. but more important they will be ready for use when you need them again.


Never leave filler dust on the floor overnight

You should have a method of working that gives you about a half hour at the end of the day to clean the filler dust up and put your tools away.

This is really important for professionals but twice as important for hobbyist that expect to return the workspace to car storage or general garage use.

If you leave filler on the floor until you think you are done your work you will end up with filler embedded in your concrete. This is going to end up with you painting the floor and that is an additional cost and not so great for working in. If you ever spilt a little reducer or other solvent on a painted floor or watched your tires pull up paint after sitting for a week you know painting a floor is a last resort.

Never leave caustic chemicals in your garage.

If you will be stripping a vehicle you want to make sure that you dispose of the stripper waste at the end of the day. You don’t want that stuff staying in your garage overnight or it could cause a fire. The caustic materials in stripper can self-combust when they react with metals.

Never leave large amounts of chemicals in your garage if it is attached to your home. You never want to purchase a 50 gallon drum of chemicals because its cheap and then store it inside. If you don’t have an out building you can always get a small shed that you can position away from your garage or home for storage of this type of product.

Protect the Paint Booth at all Costs

You never want to think you can blow dust into the paint booth.

The doors on the booth should remain closed at all times whether you are painting or between jobs.

If you don’t have a dedicated booth then you should find a way to make sure that dust does not build up on the walls and in the filters of the booth.

Never run the booth fan for ventilation of the general shop area.

Never store anything under a lift overnight

This is a good idea all of the time but especially overnight.  You never want to store items under the vehicle if it is on a  Lift or on Stands and you never ever leave a vehicle on a Jack you only use a Jack for the time it takes to lift a vehicle and never as a way to keep it in the air.

Whether its a floor jack  or a lift anything you leave under the vehicle can be crushed.

In addition to the possibility of failure is the fact that stuff in this area makes it really hard to work.

If you have a lift you should paint a box around the perimeter of where the car is when its in the air and then when the lift is up the only things that go under the lift is you and any tools you need right at that moment.

Can’t tell you how many times I have seen a oil drain tank crushed  under a lift when one guy walks in and trys to drop the lift because he needs to move something.

Trash Cans Empty at the end of the Day

You really have to do this .. if you are working with chemicals and other products that out gas you need to get the waste out of your shop at the end of the day.

This is very important for home garages because those vapors will come into your home. They aren’t dangerous at that level but they are not nice for you and everyone else to smell.

Also any food in the garage you want in a refrigerator or tossed out. You don’t want bugs in your garage and that happens faster then you think. All they need to do is find a soda and you got ants climbing all through your vehicles.

Final Note

Most people are smart enough to understand that a clean shop is a lot nicer to work in but these things don’t happen by themselves.

If you are working alone or in your home then you really need to get dedicated to cleaning up around the shop at the end of every day.

Grab a soda or something and whined down for 20 minutes and organize everything for the next day. This is especially important if you are a weekend warrior.


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