Up to three quarters of spare parts picked at Parts Town’ giant distribution center in Addison, Illinois, will be done automatically by the end of this year, Catering Insight USA can exclusively reveal.
The 300,000-square-foot logistics hub is the nerve center of Parts Town’s business, supplying the US market as well as shipping to almost 200 countries worldwide.
The company has been in the midst of a major capital investment project involving expanded automation technology and the fruits of that will become apparent very soon, according to CEO Steve Snower.
He confirmed: “55% of our orders today are picked by robots in our distribution centre. That has made us incredibly efficient and raised the quality standards to a new level and opened up a lot of capacity in the distribution centre, and we are expanding that capability further. Later this year we will be up to 70% to 75% of our transactions being picked in an automated fashion.”
The investment comes as the business continues to extend its global footprint.
Two years ago it acquired the UK’s largest spare parts distributor, First Choice, and it has increased its presence on the other side of the Atlantic by opening a logistics center in Dusseldorf, Germany.
“It will further expand our reach and deliver next-day to more areas of Europe and the Middle East,” explained Mr Snower. “So we will have the UK-focused operation in First Choice that has some reach beyond the UK but really focuses heavily on the UK market – which is an awesome market for us – and the Dusseldorf operation that will help us reach other areas of the continent.”
Mr Snower said the Dusseldorf expansion was backed by global manufacturers keen to see Parts Town’s stock availability, speed of delivery and focus on genuine OEM parts replicated in other markets.
“Much like we have seen in the US over the years, we are now seeing that demand in other areas of the world where manufacturers would really like to have a partner that is committed to OEM and supporting them fully. We are ramping up over there right now,” he added.