The Right Auto Body Shop

It’s not uncommon for estimates from different body shops to vary wildly. One shop might give you an estimate for $500 while another wants $2,000 for the work. What’s the difference? And when is it OK to choose the cheaper shop?

John Mallette, owner of Burke Auto Body & Paint, in Long Beach, California, knows better than most people how to choose a reliable shop. Mallette started working on cars when he was 12 years old and has been in the body shop business for 24 years. Here are some of his tips for choosing the right shop to work on your car — particularly when you’re the one paying the bills.

1) Pay Attention to Word-of-Mouth
Any business can advertise, but you’ll do better with a shop that friends, family or acquaintances recommend. It’s a business that has proven it can satisfy customers. And it might not be the biggest or best-known shop in your area.

Mallette went to a shop years ago on such recommendations and found that the owner was a “real stand-up guy…. He doesn’t advertise on the Internet; it’s a family-owned shop,” Mallette says. “But, golly, if you take your car there, you’ll get a fair price.”

In some cases, you might get a recommendation for a small shop where the owner works on the cars himself. “That’s how I like doing business,” Mallette says. “To me it seems so much more personal and then you can understand what’s really going on with your car.”

2) Consider the Operation’s Location and Overhead
“Where you get screwed in our business is labor hours,” Mallette explains. His shop charges $40 per hour for labor. But in ritzy parts of West Los Angeles, the per-hour labor charge is $60-$65. In wealthy Newport Beach, California, Mallette has heard of $90-per-hour labor charges.

Large body shops with a lot of front-office workers probably have to charge higher rates to pay their staff. While service delivered by front-desk folks, managers and foremen gives some people a feeling of confidence in the business, it can result in estimates that are padded with non-essential work. When they’re charging more labor hours at a higher rate, your bill can add up quickly.

In his shop, Mallette says he does things by the book — literally. Body shops and garages use reference guides that estimate the number of hours required to perform common repairs.

“Let’s say somebody has damage to their fender, bumper and headlight,” Mallette tells us. “I go to my book, I write an estimate and I basically go by the hours mandated by the book.”


A remanufactured part fulfills a function which is at least equivalent compared to the original part. It is restored from an existing part (CORE), using standardized industrial processes in line with specific technical specifications. A remanufactured part is given the same warranty as a new part and it clearly identifies the part as a remanufactured part and states the remanufacturer.

The common language is a landmark achievement inautomotive remanufacturing, and offers a bright future for an industrythat has already benefitted from greater awareness, among policy makers and the general public, in recent years. In 2015, the United States Congress passed legislation recognizing the federal government’s responsibility for outfitting its vehicles through remanufacture. The same year the G7 Alliance for Resource Efficiency declared its support for remanufacturing at a summit attended by representatives from business, government, organized labor, research, and science.

Despite the trend toward official recognition and support for the industry, the absence of unified and codified language to describe key terms, threatened to undermine the gains in automotive remanufacturing. The lack of cohesion led to misunderstanding and sub-optimal growth, as well as competition, rather than collaboration, among organizations representing auto remanufacturers, all with a common goal of growing the industry. Early indications suggest that this state of affairs is over.

As the Asia-Pacific partner of the APRA (Automotive Parts Remanufacturers Association), a non-profit trade association representing more than 1,000 automotive remanufacturers, Duxes has a history of engagement with and support for the automotive remanufacturing industry.With the release of the reman terminology, we will take the responsibility of promoting the terms and definitions in China and Asia Pacific area, and inform the rapidly expandingremanufacturing industryof the prospect for increased efficiency, and cooperation with international partners, offered by the new terminology, as well as the potential for futurelegal recognition.

About Duxes Reman Consulting

Duxes Reman Business was started in 2008 afterthe NDRC’sintroduction ofan automotive parts remanufacturing pilot program. Following a partnership agreement between Duxes and the Automotive Parts Remanufacturers Association (APRA) in 2015, Duxes has assumed the role of the APRA’s Asia Pacific Agency.This platform has enabled Duxes to carry forward its mission of promoting the development of the remanufacturing industry in the Asia-Pacific region, and facilitating industrial relations among remanufacturing companies and related organizations around the world.

South China In SF EXPO

Jointly organized by China Electroplating Association, China Surface Engineering Association Painting of Branch, Guangdong Surface Engineering Association, Guangdong Coating Industry Association and Wise Exhibition, SF EXPO is one of the worldwide most professional and influential surface finishing exhibition. It is scheduled to 17-19 May 2017 in Guangzhou Poly World Trade Center. SF EXPO formally adopted by the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry -UFI in 2012, and its organizer became the member of UFI.

SF EXPO 2015 attracted 13748 visitors and 289 exhibitors from 38 countries and regions. It was the largest and highest level of SF EXPO ever. A lot of well known brands are SF EXPO regular exhibitors, for example Atotech, UYEMURA, Surtec, Fischer, Conventya, JCU, Chemetall, Norilsk, Chuanfu, JadSF EXPO 2015 attracted 13748 visitors and 289 exhibitors from 38 countries and regions. It was echem, Huachuang, PAT, Qingfeng, Harvar, SATA, Lesta, ENECON, SPONGE, Thermoreacteur, Alutherm, GRACO, Magni, Huali, Pentatomic, ICETECH, NEHA CHEM, SHINDE CHEMICALS.

For more than a decade, SF EXPO has been committed to building a professional exhibition platform for surface finishing equipment and material suppliers and users. To maximize the exhibiting and visiting results, serial concurrent events such as conference, seminars and summit are organized in every session.

Close Interaction with Industry Elites

SF EXPO has started exhibition preparation in early July of 2016, having visited many surface finishing companies and downstream enterprises such as automobile and parts companies around Pearl River Delta region. In September, after meeting with global industry researchers, professionals and association leaders in Interfinish 2016, the organizing committee has settled cooperation with NASF and SSEA which will support SF EXPO 2017 by organizing visiting group from Southeast Asia.

In October, the 2016 annual meeting of China Surface Engineering Association Painting of Branch gave a perfect opportunities to promote SF EXPO among over 100 association members. The association has confirmed that the chairman expansion meeting will be scheduled concurrently on SF EXPO 2017.

On 13 November, SF EXPO organizing team met more than 80 aluminum surface finishing companies in the 7th Guangdong Aluminum Processing Technology (International) Seminar in Foshan, which was attended by 600 companies. Its organizer – Guangdong Provincial Nonferrous Metals Society Aluminum Processing Committee is also the co-organizer of SF EXPO 2017, to host Aluminum Surface Technology Seminar. Therefore, aluminum visiting group will also be invited to SF EXPO 2017 in May.

Surface finishing demands in South China Market

As the most prosperous city in South China and the host city of SF EXPO, Guangzhou has superior location, adjacent to Hongkong, Macao and Taiwan and ASEAN Region, together with cities Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Dongguan, Foshan, Huizhou, Zhongshan, Jiangmen and Zhaoqin, establishing a the most prosperous manufacturing center in China — Pearl River Delta , which covers a wide range of surface finishing related industries including automobile & parts, home appliance, furniture, machinery, lighting, toy, lock, digital products, telecommunication, electronic products, PCB, hardware, and aluminum.

Manufacturing giants such as Huawei, Midea, BYD, Gree, Foxconn, GAC Group, Galanz, TCL and a great number of medium and small enterprises show great demands for surface finishing technologies and products. Therefore, Guangzhou has a extremely strong industrial background to hold surface finishing exhibition.

Manufactures continue to invest in their supply

The automotive industry has recovered from the 2008 recession, and is regaining its former strength. There are many factors to show that it is still gaining momentum, for example, General Motors has recently stated they have had their highest global sales ever this year. One industry forecast predicts global automobile production will exceed 61 million, a 7 percent growth from the previous year. Interestingly, GM sold more cars will be sold in China than the US.

Large investments have been made by automakers, this been noticed in many areas. These investments include opening new plants and refurbishing older facilities. The auto industry has long been on the cutting edge of manufacturing technology. However, industry investments don’t just include investment in high technology such as robotics, but also, literally the nuts and bolts of the auto industry. A general increase in manufacturing around the automotive sector has been noticed as well. This includes such staples as steel production, plastics and the key metal forming component. Secondary markets, such as the tier II metal forming industry have picked up over the last several years. Metal stamping, roll forming and carbide die production have increased. In the area of tool and die the auto industry has long since taken advantage of metal forming technologies such as tungsten carbide dies. Tungsten carbide is three times as hard as steel and is used to form many parts such as axles, tubing and a wide variety of other components. Of course, this includes the cold forming of nuts and bolts. One carbide die supplier has reported a six fold increase in orders for April, 2016 alone. The end result of this is an industry wide increase in manufacturing productivity and capacity.

Basically, manufactures continue to invest in their supply chains as well as design and technology. The tier II metal forming industry suppliers relationships were severely strained after the 2008 recession. When the recession hit the industry put greater demands on their suppliers for cheaper parts. Even worse, several key automotive companies were unable to payoff large debts they incurred to the vast array of suppliers forcing many suppliers to close their doors. However, these supply chains have been strengthened in recent years, to the benefit of the industry. It would be great if we could say that the tier II and tier III suppliers have been guaranteed a profitable place in manufacturing but unfortunately it is all still on a case by case bases. Supply and demand still rules the day after all.  Overall demand for all of these products is still questionable but the industry remains hopeful. After all, there is a lot riding on it, everything from rubber to steel and the processes to make these raw materials into a commodity, things like tool and die, robotics and of course the labor force, all depend on it.

We have now reached the time to see how well we understand the lessons of the recession. Did we learn anything about manufacturing over the previous years and expand our knowledge?

Will the auto maker’s realize the short sided mistake of trying to eke out every penny from their supply chain or will they construct mutually beneficial relationships. It is better to depend on a pool of competitive suppliers than it is to starve suppliers or attempt to bring it all “in house”. For example, GM or Toyota isn’t going to advance tool and die as quickly as the whole tool and die industry, they need to rely on the tool and die suppliers to advance their own craft and focus on designing and manufacturing better cars and trucks. Perhaps only Ford Motors only realized this, and it allowed them to weather-the-storm. How about controlling their long term obligations to their work force while rewarding talent and hard work by their employees?  Platform-based manufacturing is a growing concept that is gaining popularity in Detroit as well as their competitors in Europe and Asia. The industry is trying to create a common vehicle designs that can be modified to replace the multitude of vehicle models all over the world. This gives automakers the opportunity to standardize manufacturing procedures and parts, increase the size of their facilities, and be able to respond more quickly changes in demand from the consumers in the global market. In the end, the whole process of rolling out models from plants across many countries and supply chains gets simplified, assuming your systems can support these transitions.

China Electric Cars

Due to its size and booming economy, China is now the world’s largest auto market, and industry analysts predict sales of 20 million cars in 2012 alone. Hence, the government is looking for greener alternative to gasoline to power their cars, trucks and buses. Although battery-driven cars today make up a small portion of the market, hybrid cars in China should still exceed 200,000 this year. In addition, there are approximately 125 million battery-driven bicycles on the road.

A key component of such vehicles is their batteries. Lithium-ion cells, the technology that powers most laptop computers, cell phones and other electronic devices, are the most popular type used in hybrid cars because the cells are smaller and lighter than alternative batteries. China produces revenues of $3.6 billion in lithium ion batteries each year.


The Tianjin Institute of Power Sources

Despite the widespread use of lithium ion batteries, there are still some concerns about the risk of potential fire hazards. Addressing this issue is the Tianjin Institute of Power Sources, established in 1958, one of two national laboratories involved in battery testing and evaluation. The Institute has more than 1,400 employees, of which some 400 are technical staff. The lab focuses on standards research for battery safety and makes design recommendations, which many automobile manufacturers follow.

When it comes to cell safety, many factors come into play, but which ones are the most significant? Without simulations, finding the answer would require considerable funds and tedious testing, while repeating dangerous experiments and trying to control every aspect of them.

To simulate the thermal behavior of the cells at adiabatic conditions, we created a 3D model that includes 12 positive electrodes, each measuring6.5 cm × 5 cm × 5 mm and each rated for approximately 1 Ah. The model coupled heat transfer and electrochemical reactions together. In our studies of new types of cells, the temperature rose slowly at first but eventually went over to thermal runaway (Figures 1 and 2). We calculated the major exothermal peaks and found very good correlation between the model and experimental results.

Thanks to the model, I can more easily optimize the cell geometry and study the thermal behavior of its materials,which is important in understanding the cells’ safety aspects and is also helpful in product design. COMSOL models help in building safety awareness and also to save money. For a typical project, we usually run hundreds of experiments, where each one costs roughly $300. Now, because of the models, we can cut the number of experiments down to just ten or so. Also, without simulation, we would need a week to produce each experiment and another week to run it. With the simulation, I can test tens of designs in hours and send one or two very promising ones for trials.