With customers switching to smaller orders of specialized parts, the team at MAHLE Aftermarket recognized the need for small-scale order fulfillment solutions to meet customers’ expectations. To make the transition successfully, they turned to the automation experts at AutoStore.
MAHLE Aftermarket has been one of the premier global suppliers of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) equivalent automotive parts to mechanics and private individuals for over a century. Until recently, customers typically purchased larger orders from a catalog comprising seven major brands and thousands of parts. However, recent years have seen some surprising changes in the automotive industry, as drivers of older vehicles work to keep them roadworthy and a wide range of cars and trucks requiring specialized parts are gaining popularity.
As a result, MAHLE Aftermarket has witnessed a shift from bulk or palletized purchases to smaller, more specialized and more frequent orders. In order to keep up with demand and continue getting quality parts to their customers, they determined that an automated warehouse system was the solution they needed.
Until recently, a traditional pallet-and-rack system was sufficiently agile for MAHLE Aftermarket to process and ship orders in bulk. However, because customers’ orders were getting smaller and more frequent while their inventory remained as broad as ever at over 100,000 OEM and aftermarket parts, their system was no longer efficient enough.
They decided that the best way to connect customers with their products was to implement an automated warehouse solution that would facilitate the picking, packing, and processing of more selective purchases. In addition, with the company-wide Digitalization and Automatization Strategy “Warehouse 4.0” already under way, MAHLE Aftermarket was looking for a modular, space- and time-efficient solution for their Olive Branch, MS facility, which would integrate with an overhauled logistics model.
By combining their expertise on customers’ changing purchasing habits with the AutoStore system, MAHLE Aftermarket was able to establish an order-fulfillment system capable of accommodating current demand and scaling to meet future expansion. In addition, the standardized logistical operations the AutoStore system makes possible will bring the Olive Branch facility into line with MAHLE Aftermarket’s commitment to increased efficiency and consistent customer satisfaction through shorter shipping times and fewer processing errors.
The AutoStore system put in place in Olive Branch will initially consist of 18 AutoStore R5 Robots to sort, carry, and deliver any of 42,000 storage Bins to five carousel Ports and two conveyor Ports for picking and replenishment. Light goods conveyors will then carry items from these Ports sorted for LTL and parcel outbound processing.
As a fully modular system, AutoStore has been adapted for use with MAHLE Aftermarket’s existing SAP EWM warehouse management system. Furthermore, the standardized parts used in the AutoStore system will minimize installation time in the Olive Branch facility while retaining capacity for further modification or expansion. Without requiring additional staff, the new system can increase storage capacity by up to 4 times and performance up to 10 times that of MAHLE Aftermarket’s former logistical model.
We are confident in facing the increasing challenges of the market with a flexible, sustainable and technologically advanced AutoStore solution that is capable of handling our growth for many years to come.
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