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The recent South African representative at the R-M Best Painter Contest (BPC), Monique Swanepoel, took time out with Automotive Refinisher to let us know how this experience has shaped her.

Being born ino the collision repair industry and working in a panel shop during your school holidays, is either going to grow you into the business, or put you off completely, Thankfully, Monique decided to stick with it. “I love colours, being creative and working with my hands, so spraypainting caught my attention” she said.

Being part of the whole BPC experience, locally and overseas in France, has given Monique excellent exposure. “As a painter, you can’t know everything. You are always learning and evolving. It was interesting to be able to compare how other spraypainters from around the world manage the pressure and workload, as well as see their individual techniques. Each person may use the same product to achieve the same result, but each of us has our own unique style in getting there.”

Training is absolutely key when it comes to collision repair, especially in colour. Monique received extra one-on-one training before she left to compete, which she really felt boosted her confidence in her ability.

Working alongside her three deaf colleagues at HJ Bosch & Sons has grown her passion for training. It’s her dream to one day focus on training and to make a difference one life at a time. This passion is something that both she and R-M share.

R-M have increased their training reach by bringing everything onto an online platform. Despite having nearly 10 000 customers a year complete courses, there are still many end users that aren’t being reached.

Going digital will create the opportunity for users to hone their skills and answer any questions during their work day. On the platform, a wide range of media will be provided that convey process know-how for the customers and offer them solutions.

The product range provides for all kinds of learning methods and includes e-booklets with background knowledge, working materials on e-learning, as well as a video clip library presenting practical solutions.

The content is precisely tailored to the market’s current requirements. “The automotive refinishing market has changed,” said Marie Jahn, head of the project at R-M. “Many body shops are becoming more professional and today are working in a much more process-oriented and specialised manner than before. In addition, every market has its own specific requirements that we want to address.” The project is geared toward this trend, aiming to further optimise R-M’s services and respond more flexibly to the specific needs. For this reason, R-M’s training platform will focus on detailed questions and modular content in order to enable customers to find exactly the knowledge they are looking for.

“Once the R-M project has been completed, we will offer this kind of media and digital presentation of content for all of the automotive refinishing process steps. With the newly created online platform, we will also offer our customers even more comprehensive support than we do today and it will be available 24/7.”

The online platform will initially be set up for users based in Europe. Later, it will be globally accessible. The finalists of the Best Painter Contest in Clermont were already treated to a preview of the platform.

“Practically for me,” said Monique, “the online platform means I can figure things out without needing to worry a technician with the problem. I can sort it out in real time, on the job.

“I wanted to take the opportunity to thank the R-M and BASF team who allowed me the privilege of representing my country at the BPC. Thank you to those who took time out to train me, for those who supported me overseas when my family were far away, to my company for allowing me extra time off and for being so understanding and to my family and friends for celebrating this challenge with me. “The most important thing I’ve learned from this experience is that not everything is about winning or losing. It’s about how you use the knowledge you’ve gained to grow.” Winning words Monique!