Archive for May, 2015


So is sandpaper important? How much of your material budget do you spend on Abrasives? Do you know? We’ll get to the answer in a minute.

So why does our industry consume dizzying array of abrasives? What are the pros and cons of each type and how can your shop minimize cost without sacrificing quality?

Ok so the sandpaper gods have created every grit and attachment mechanism under the sun…its all around body shops every day. Sandpaper has a cost and a price. The price is what you pay and the cost is the net result of the effect the product has on your shops performance.

Sandpaper has been around since the ancients used shark skin or crushed shells bonded to papyrus with tree gum. The technology has made huge advancements, but the same limits still apply to all the products. Heat from friction is one of the main enemies of abrasive life. Heat is generated by clogged paper and excessive DA speed. Slow down a bit and wipe/smack your paper frequently to make it last longer. Pay attention to the “throw” of your DA orbit also. DA’s are available in orbits from 3/32″ to 1/2″ or more. The tool matters. I prefer a 5/16″ even on detail grits. Keep it cool, keep it clean.

Which one is right for your shop depends on the system you set up to use your abrasives.

Typically the average shops body technician is going to have his own open box of 80, 180, 240 or 320 grit da paper, duplicated grits of file paper and 24,36,50 grit Roloc and 5 inch grinding disk. Contrast that with the average paint shop that keeps DA AND/or flat paper grits of 240,320,400,600,800,1000,1200,1500, 3000 and now even 5000 grit finishing abrasives.

Can you see now why the average shop spends 9-10% of its material budget on abrasives? Following are a few steps you can take to choose a system and maximize your dollar for abrasives.

1. Streamline Inventory. Everyone likes different stuff, but all the techs in your shop can agree on a limited list of part numbers if you try. Example which roloc will you use?

Shops really don’t need 24,36,50 and now even 80# Roloc. You will find that finer grits like 50 and 80 cut faster than the 24 and 36 and leave far less collateral damage. Test this for yourself…i didn’t believe it either until my rep showed me.

Anything over 3 DA prep grits for paint is a luxury. If your painters need anything coarser than 320 then they are body men! Most shops have been able to get the range down to like 320, 600 and 800.

Take an inventory of the products in your shop. Once you make your list, get rid of everything else. Most of the customers Ive worked with say, “we will just use those others up”. It never happens. 3 months later when that odd grit is gone, your salesman will unknowingly reorder you more because he doesn’t know any better!

2. Build process carts – I have a client with 6 body techs who to date only has 1 Gallon of Bondo, 1 bottle of glaze, and 1 box of each grit of Body abrasive open. The cart is visually organized and stays centrally located to all the techs and rolls everything needed to fix dents right to the car. Why not put a dust free system on your cart? How much money does sanding dust cost? Ask your clean up guy, He catches all the evils created during the repair process. He is the unsung hero of your organization!

3. Pick a system. If you have a cart or another set up where techs can keep partially used abrasives then it makes sense to use velcro. Typically velcro will cost 20% more. Just like any other premium product, If its used correctly it is more than cost effective, it’s a no brainer.

Proper abrasive selection is very important to your material bill and executing consistent, quality repairs. 

10 percent of the money you spend is on abrasives. It’s 4th on the list in cost priority yet many shops overlook its importance or default to the cheapest box they can buy. Consider all the cost and the end goal and you’ll find that abrasives are a cornerstone to your material profit goals.