CHICAGO Tuesday during the 2014 Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium (GAAS) in Chicago, IHS Automotive honored the winners of the annual Polk Inventory Efficiency Awards. IHS acquired R. L. Polk & Co. last year and incorporated its business into IHS Automotive.
The award program, now in its 10th year, recognizes members of the automotive aftermarket for their efforts toward inventory efficiency and process improvement within their organizations.
Mark Seng, global aftermarket practice leader, and Mike Gingell, vice president, market analysis solutions, of IHS Automotive, presented the awards. MAHLE Aftermarket Inc. was honored in the manufacturer category and the Autowares Group of Companies was honored in the retail and distribution category.
“It’s a pleasure to recognize the efforts of the teams from MAHLE and Autowares with this year’s awards,” said Seng. “Commitment to and success in managing a multi-faceted approach to achieving efficiency is one of the cornerstones of these awards.”
Since the introduction of the award in 2005, nominees have shown the ability to design and efficiently implement increasingly innovative solutions to the inventory management challenges facing the industry. The impressive list of winners including both big and small companies is a testament to the aftermarket’s ability to adapt and innovate in the face of adversity.
Program judges also noted that the industry has gotten more complex, requiring an added level of technology and sophistication for manufacturers, distributors and retailers. In addition, winners are paying more attention to the benefits achieved through programs like this and by collecting data and identifying measurable results.
MAHLE Aftermarket, based in Farmington Hills, Mich., was honored as the winner in the Manufacturer category. MAHLE implemented a systematic approach to managing the organization’s product portfolio, using vehicles in operation (VIO) data to help prioritize trends and new coverage areas, while customizing inventory based on parts demand and consumption.
This approach also incorporated a new warehouse managing system at its Master Distribution Facility in Olive Branch, Miss. The new system includes voice recognition picking for parts and provides part number and barcode verification, thereby reducing excessive paperwork and increasing order fill rates and decreasing turnaround time. The solution also virtually eliminated errors, as picking efficiency has achieved a 30 percent improvement since its implementation in early 2013.
Lastly, a supplier portal and scorecard was introduced for MAHLE suppliers, which allowed for more timely communication and data delivery, and provides an opportunity for MAHLE to reward supplier achievements. In total, these improvements allowed for aggressive inventory reduction at MAHLE, reducing inventory by nearly 25 percent since 2010.
“We are honored to be recognized today,” said Jon Douglas, general manager, MAHLE Aftermarket North America. “Our team’s diligence in implementing these programs over the years has contributed greatly to this achievement and serves as a benchmark for us moving forward.”
In the Retail and Distribution Category, Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Autowares Group of Companies was honored for its implementation of an improved stock planning initiative, which linked VIO data with a third-party inventory system to build market-specific profiles and provided custom inventory models for each. Their team also added local vehicle failure rates to create a custom sales demand forecast. In addition, the Autowares Group of Companies team enabled overstock visibility across the organization, allowing nine warehouses to consume slow-moving overstocked items from one another prior to ordering new parts.
The team also embarked on a vertical supply chain visibility effort, in which daily inventory transfer between stores was allowed, enabling the ability to optimize stock across 160 company-owned stores and recognize demand so stocks aren’t depleted where they may be needed in the near-term.
Also along these lines, the Autowares Group of Companies began to integrate and optimize software so its branches could be more efficient, allowing them to see upstream inventory across multiple warehouse locations and sister stores. It also added in visibility of logistics to minimize expedited handling costs. Lastly, service center software improvements brought capability to view inventory location, availability and freight costs from the initial order to the technician and allowed technicians to select the best product and delivery options for their job at the time, expediting orders when necessary and providing visibility into the delivery system.
Market-specific profiling has been applied to 70 percent of application-driven lines across all nine distribution centers and 157 company stores. Additionally, vertical supply chain visibility for overstock transfers has been implemented in 100 percent of nine distribution centers and 157 company stores. And lastly, same-day stock visibility and delivery estimate software has been implemented in 65 percent of company and independent stores and their corresponding installer customers across a five-state area.
“This is a great achievement for our team,” said Fred Bunting, founder and chairman of Autowares Group of Companies. “We look forward to implementing more of these initiatives across our enterprise as we move forward.”