Time Saver

Streamlined Processes Help Reduce Waste

Skip Nolan, owner of French Lake Auto Parts, created a space in a loader for a laptop that is connected to his desktop.

Photo: French Lake Auto Parts


When time equals money, any amount of time saved positively impacts your bottom line. Two auto recyclers, Skip Nolan from French Lake Auto Parts in Annandale, Minn. and Mitch Mitchell from Fair Auto & Truck Parts in Englewood, Colo., implemented simple strategies to streamline their daily processes. 

Nolan spends a considerable time each week outside in the yard, cut off from the office.

“I always had to interrupt inventory guys or sales staff to look things up for me when I was out in the yard with questions on what was all still on inventory on a certain vehicle I was thinking of crushing or keeping,” he explained. “Or, they would radio to me asking to bring a car up for a part that was just sold.” 

He got an idea to place his laptop inside the loader from a police officer friend who has a Toughbook laptop installed inside the cruiser.

Nolan called Hollander, A Solera Company to see if the company had a software solution that could connect his laptop to his office desktop. A company representative suggested he use LogMeIn, www.logmein.com, an Internet-based, free service that allows users to remotely control their computers and access their files from any computer. Nolan set up the connection and built a padded box inside the loader for the laptop to sit in.

“Now I can check stock numbers if it’s time for a vehicle to get crushed or saved, look up location and color and how long we have had it, add or delete parts, check my emails and send messages to the sales guys on important things I might think of as I do my yardwork,” he listed. “No more interrupting the inventory guys or sales staff from what they are doing.”

Mitchell trimmed hours of production when the company stopped pre-washing engines and transmissions before shelving them. He said Fair Auto & Truck Parts used to pull an engine, wash it, then shelve it until it sold, which could be months or years. After talking with Jim Counts, of Counts Consulting, he cut this process and now only washes at the time of sale.

“To have a person prepare an engine, wash it, get it done, blow it off, we were talking about 45 minutes to an hour for each engine,” Mitchell explained. “If you wash eight engines in a week, that’s a full day’s worth of time for one employee.”

Plus, if an engine never sold and scrapped instead, that pre-labor time was wasted. Mitchell also acknowledged that if an engine or transmission sat on the shelf for a long time, a layer of dust built up and the part needed to be cleaned a second time. 

Cutting out the pre-washing time also prevents future mechanical problems. 

“If any water does get in the engine for some reason, now it is only there for a matter of hours, versus being in an engine months or years, possibly rusting something,” Mitchell acknowledged. 

“Now, if a shop calls and says it found a little bit of water in a cylinder, we can say ‘We just washed it, blow it out and it will be fine.’ But if you washed it a year ago, that water could have damaged the cylinder.”

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