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Operations Insight

Parts Department: Heat Mapping & Route Tracing

Let’s talk about a topic in the Parts Department. Modern Dealer Management Systems (DMS) and OEM RIM Systems use sales data to suggest the best stocking inventories and keep track of what is on the shelves and where it is located. But those systems do not offer to planogram the layout or help identify what would be the optimal location for each part that is on hand. 

“Are you efficiently managing the physical space and manpower of your Parts Department?” 

Since the earliest beginnings of the Auto Industry, most dealers are still putting parts on the shelves, also known as “slotting” in part number, or group number sequence starting with the smaller parts in one section, larger parts in another, and the largest items in a third section of the floor layout.   

Back in the day of paper parts catalogs and price books, this practice made a lot of sense as it put parts physically on the shelves in the same order as parts listed in the catalogs and price books of the time—a sort-of Dewey Decimal System slotting method for parts—and helped new employees learn the system.

But today, most catalogs are electronic with the pricing integrated into the DMS system, so there is a lot less need for parts employees to learn those old methods. 


Mapping and Routing

One way to improve how efficient you are with your manpower and bin storage would be to organize your parts by movement, storing the fastest moving parts in locations as close to the receipting and sales locations for those SKUs to reduce the number of steps (and time) taken to pick or put-away parts. 

ADMI’s Parts Upgrade Program utilized a Route Tracing process and a Time Study to identify high traffic areas and to illustrate how efficiently or inefficiently a dealer’s current bin layout and slotting was functioning.  These heatmaps also point out that 2/3 to 3/4 of these floorplans are aisles.

ADMI, Heat Map, Parts Upgrade Program

Today, we use a similar automated processes to create heatmaps showing the bin locations with the highest velocity parts to visually show where the most activity is taking place to make informed decisions on where to slot the fastest, and slowest, moving parts to improve warehousing productivity.

ADMI, Heat Map, Binning, Parts Upgrade Program

To make the parts department even more efficient, we implemented newer Hi-Density Hybrid bins for the fastest moving small parts located in the area between receiving and the shop counter, or the shipping department.

Consolidating 6 rows of 2’x3’bins into 2 rows of 2’x3’ bins can reduce the storage bin footprint and can free up space for improved receiving and shipping areas using Pick-Walls and other processes. 

Productivity will increase greatly with the deployment of robotic systems used by today’s larger warehousing operations which will soon be scalable and affordable enough for use in the larger dealer parts departments and warehouses that utilized automated slotting to always have the fastest moving parts located for the quickest automating picking and put-away.


Final Note

ADMI has been helping dealers since 1980 to transform their Fixed Operations into Top Performing, Efficient, & Profitable businesses that deliver outstanding customer satisfaction. If we can be of service to you, contact us or call 800-323-6352.

By Jim Gillespie