In the two years since the 3M Automotive Aftermarket Division and Festool launched the Total Automotive Sanding System as part of its clean shop technologies, it has already fundamentally changed the way top automotive collision shops operate their businesses for improved productivity, technician satisfaction and a cleaner facility environment.

The powerful combination of best-in-class 3M™ Cubitron™ II abrasives and Festool-branded premium power tools and dust extraction technologies are making collision shops cleaner, more profitable and better, safer places to work.

The results are being seen daily , where top collision repair body shop owners and technicians are realizing gains in their business operations thanks to the Total Automotive Sanding System. It literally is a game changer, as system users are realizing all across the country.

Sawgrass Ford in Sunrise, Florida operates a collision repair center to service customers in South Florida, a market with lots of premium vehicles. Bill Condron, Fixed Operations Director at Sawgrass Ford is a huge proponent of the Total Automotive Sanding System.

“The biggest thing for us is the cleanliness of the shop,” says Condron. “We just built a brand-new $7 million shop, and all of our technicians have their own Total Automotive Sanding Systems. The cleanliness of it and the quickness of it has been very helpful for us. We’re working on high-end cars, so we don’t want there to be dirt on the cars. We don’t want the dirt in the shop and we don’t want the dirt on the guys.”

It’s certainly keeping our shop looking much cleaner and streamlined, so when people come in and are trying to decide whether to leave their cars with us, they’re looking at a nice, clean shop, not one that’s got filler dust or paint residue all over everything.”

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Get Stuck On 3M Clean Shop Solutions

The 3M clean shop solutions go far beyond the Total Automotive Sanding System. For the paint booth, 3M™ Dirt Trap Nonwoven Protection Material is a specially engineered nonwoven material that traps dust and dirt while it protects and brightens paint booth walls and floors.

For other shop areas, 3M offers the new 3M™ Self-Stick Liquid Protection Fabric, a removable, efficient and economical way to protect surfaces from paint spils, dirt and liquids, trapping these contaminants in the fabric for easy cleanup. 3M™ Self-Stick Liquid Protection Fabric provides a temporary, conformable surface covering that adheres to most surfaces, but removes easily and leaves no residue after the work is completed. Ideal for repair bays, paint mixing rooms and mechanical repair areas, 3M™ Self-Stick Liquid Protection Fabric replaces paper, cardboard, plastic or other surface coverings which require over-masking and frequently become soggy or slippery and can allow leakage to surrounding areas.

Employee safety is another benefit of the Total Automotive Sanding System.

“When you’ve got one technician who’s sanding on plastic filler on a body panel, we always make sure that they’re wearing a respirator. We’re very safety conscious here,” says Dennis Auld, general manager of Auto Body Repair of America in Hudson, Wisconsin. “But 10 to 15 feet away in the next bay, his co-worker who’s not wearing a respirator but there was still all of that dust in the air. Before, you could see the haze in the sunshine. With the Total Automotive Sanding System, that has been totally eliminated. Our technicians are absolutely thrilled.”

“The cleanliness of the repairs is amazing,” Auld says. “And you’re keeping the customers’ vehicles clean and the shop clean. Our shop maintenance has gone way down. That’s where we’ve seen the biggest improvement. You’re not pulling a car out and having to sweep every time you change vehicles. There isn’t any cleanup.”

Benner’s Auto Body in Cranford, New Jersey, has been in business since 1910 owner Joe O’Neill Jr. relies on the Total Automotive Sanding System to boost the profitability and environmental efficiency of his facility.

“We started off by putting it in just the body department,” says O’Neill. “And we got great feedback from our employees on the user-friendliness of it, the quality of it. We tried out some of the competitors and had them come in and demo it and it wasn’t even in the same ballpark.

“The next department to go was the paint department. It was phenomenal because it just made the paint department a lot cleaner, with a lot less dirt being thrown around. The third integration was the detail department. So now, each one of my departments uses the 3M/Festool solutions, because we like the quality of it.”

O’Neil estimates that among the employees in his shop’s three departments, the Total Automotive Sanding System saves as many as 15 hours per day in time his technicians have to spend cleaning themselves up and cleaning their work area. Time is money, and it adds up quickly.

For their efforts, Benner’s Auto Body was recently awarded an Environmental Stewardship Award from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

Environmental responsibility is also a key business initiative for Latuff Brothers Auto Body, a St. Paul, Minnesota collision repair center that’s been in the same family for four generations, 1933.  

“A clean work area creates pride to go with it,” says Will Latuff. “Being environmentally friendly is one of the things that drives us. We want to be better for you, your vehicle and the environment. The Total Automotive Sanding System just helps us further that cause.”

“With the Total Automotive Sanding Systems, we are experiencing longer paper life, especially when you’re sanding to bare metal. The 3M™ Cubitron™ II abrasives that we use work phenomenally well and don’t dull as fast as other grades of paper. It means less time spent grabbing another piece of paper out of the supply cabinet and more time hands-on with the vehicles.”

He also values the relationship his shop has and the service it receives from 3M on an ongoing basis.

“3M is a great business partner and they always come in and support the products that they bring to market,” says Latuff. “The experience was seamless for us. They brought it in, showed the guys the benefits of the system, how to use it. And it comes with a phenomenal service warranty on it.”

Bill Condron from Sawgrass Ford had similar results with the installation of the Total Automotive Sanding System at his shop.

“My 3M representatives, Jay Guadalupe and Louis Federico were very instrumental in helping us make the changeover to the Total Automotive Sanding System,” Condron says. “They came in, helped assemble everything trained the guys on the spot. They spent a couple hours with them going over the benefits of using the equipment, how to properly use the equipment and maintain it. So not only did we buy the system, we got the support to go with it.”

Real-world shops, real-world results: Cleaner, more efficient, more environmentally friendly and more profitable shops thanks to 3M, Festool and the Total Automotive Sanding System. That’s a win all around.

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