Collision Repair 2d Shop Design IP PR Img

Shop design should provide the most efficient layout and work flow to endure efficient, high quality repairs


Judy Lynch


November 2014

By Judy A. Lynch, Manager, Collision Repair Design Services
Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes

Facility layout and design is an important component of any businesses overall operations, both in terms of maximizing the effectiveness of the production process and meeting the needs of employees. The layout and design of that space greatly impacts how work is done—the flow of work, materials, and information through the system.


Collision repair facilities typically have manpower, material, and equipment operating in a layout with long distances of walking, material movement, and back-and-forth actions. Personnel seldom communicate well and tend to work in their own silos. These activities result in waste, adding significant cost to the operation. Collision Repair Design Service, (CRDS), offers solutions that address the source of waste by physically changing the manner in which people interact with material, equipment, information, and each other.


The philosophy is to develop lean principles, eliminate waste, and improve production flow and quality. A lean production facility is designed directly from standard operating procedures of your facility rather than taking the constraints of a building to work around. The key purpose of the lean design effort is to ensure that the resources or flow come together in the right place, in the right quantity and at the right time. People, workstations, parts bins and equipment should be arranged to optimize flow, minimize waste and boost productivity. Here are a few factors to consider when designing the layout of a facility so that you achieve maximum effectiveness:


  1. Does the design and layout allow for growth or change? Is there a chance that your facility will experience significant growth? Could some other change (such as aluminum repair) come about that will influence the layout of your facility? Making changes is costly and undertaking them shouldn’t be taken lightly. Your layout should be flexible enough to allow a redesign if the situation calls for it.

  2. Is the process flow smooth? If you are running a collision facility, the flow should be such that the vehicles enter at one end and the finished product exits at the other. The flow doesn’t necessarily have to form a straight line, but there should be no backtracking. Backtracking creates confusion with employees (“Has that been done yet?”), parts get lost, accountability suffers, and overall coordination is very difficult. You need to maintain a consistent process to be efficient.

  3. Are materials being handled efficiently? Reducing and monitoring material inventory can have huge financial impact on your company. Are parts being ordered, delivered, verified and installed on a just-in-time basis? There may be an opportunity to streamline your current inventory. Here, simplicity is best. 

  4. Does the facility layout contribute to meeting production needs? Is there enough space and is it used efficiently? Have you allowed enough space for receiving vehicles and parts? Can different areas of the business communicate effectively? Does the layout lend itself to all procedures within the process? A ‘no’ answer to any one of these questions means your present – or planned – space will not be 100% effective. 

  5. Does the layout contribute to employee satisfaction and moral? Several studies have linked employee moral to productivity. Managers should take this point into consideration when designing the layout of their facilities. Suggestions include painting the walls in light colors, add windows, provide sufficient space to perform a task, and perhaps include a lunch and/or meeting room(s). Some of the options may be fairly easy and if it increases productivity in the long run, definitely worth making the investment.


 The layout of your office area is an important, often overlooked, factor that affects the way your employees perform their jobs. Offices accept and produce information. This can be physical, electronic, or verbal cue, but the final result is still information. Office layouts may be different than a facility layout, but the goal should be to minimize communication errors and maximize productivity. Before you begin an office redesign, think about the types of tasks employees perform in the space. A good office design is not only functional, but provides comfortable work areas for your staff.


The main goals of facility layout and design are to maximize flow (lean principles) and contain cost (financial principles). The goal is to understand and meet the evolving workplace needs of collision repair owners in order to leverage physical space into an asset – rather than an expense. Lean facility design techniques have become critical tools to manage quality collision repair and at the same time contain, or even minimize, costs associated with high levels of undetected defects and slow production. CRDS can potentially have one of the strongest impacts on the future of your business.


To view or print the full article go to: Fixed Ops Magazine Shop Design Article.


The Sherwin-Williams Company, founded in 1866, is one of the world's leading companies in the manufacture, distribution and sale of coatings and related products to professional, industrial, commercial and retail customers. Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes a division of The Sherwin-Williams Company manufactures and distributes a complete line of advanced technology paint and coating systems for automotive and fleet refinishing industries.


Judy Lynch has 26 years of Automotive Industry experience working with Dealerships, Independents, Consolidators and Multiple Shop Operators. Judy created the Collision Repair Design Service department within Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes. For more information go to: Shop Layout and Design