With 16 franchised operations offering virtually every make of vehicle, Birchwood Automotive Group has grown to become the largest network of automotive retailers in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Despite being the largest, there is still room for more improvement.
Since the province’s used-vehicle market is three times larger than the new one, Birchwood Group made the decision to invest in a standalone facility that could focus on the used-vehicle side of business. As Scott Greer, the group’s director of used-vehicles service, describes the decision, “it allows us to take the focus on used-vehicle recondition away from our stores, so they can focus one hundred percent on helping out their customers.”
Filling the new 40,000 square foot facility required considerable research. Greer and a colleague set about finding the right equipment for the efficient operation they were trying to create. Among the equipment needed was a paint booth and a prep station.
“Our research focused on multiple-panel setups as we mostly do parts and pieces for reconditioning while the car continues down our production line,” says Greer. “We looked at several different brands and spoke with our subject matter experts at our collision centers, where we have a few different booth brands.”
In addition to research and internal conversations, Greer took the search outward as well. They visited several major facilities in the United States and reached out to Axalta, whose paint they use exclusively, to learn what the liquid and powder coating supplier recommends as the best type of booth.
Taking into account all of the research, trips and discussions, Global Finishing Solutions (GFS) emerged as the consensus choice. With the help of Dormer Finishing Systems, Birchwood Group added an Ultra XD Semi-Downdraft booth with an attached Ultra Mix Room and an Excel Workstation to their state-of-the-art facility.
“It’s been great,” Greer says. “It’s allowed us to set up a workflow system similar to what Boeing uses with their ovens in putting together carbon fiber wings, which means we can lower our batch size and improve our cycle times.” He added that the reconditioning center has been averaging around six booth runs per day.
On top of that, the addition of the Excel Workstation has handled all the priming. Utilizing the prep deck removes anywhere between 4-8 hours of cycle time. As Greer describes the process, “we can have a panel taken off, primed, painted and back on the car in the same day without having to do an overnight cook in the booth.”
He told Canadian Auto World, “we cannot afford for used vehicles to be an afterthought.” Anchored by efficient GFS equipment, Birchwood Reconditioning Center is making sure used cars are front and center by improving its cycle times and getting vehicles out to market faster.