In 2017, after experiencing a 30% growth year-on-year, Parts Town installed the AutoStore warehouse automation system to help the company continue to fulfill its same-day delivery promise.
Parts Town, an American supplier of parts for restaurant equipment, needed a warehouse automation system to help them deliver on their same-day delivery promise in a fast-moving industry.
Consistent growth made it necessary for Parts Town to move to larger warehouses on three different occasions since 2004. The last move was from a warehouse of over 150,000 square feet (14,000 square meters) to one that’s more than twice as big. Along the way, they’ve partnered with AutoStore to help them scale up while keeping their customers satisfied.
Parts Town is one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing parts providers of kitchen equipment. Situated in Addison, Illinois, they specialize in selling just the parts and not the full equipment for commercial kitchens. Among their many clients are food equipment service companies, chain restaurants, institutions, and independent restaurants.
The company has always championed Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts and has the greatest in-stock parts for food-service equipment in the world. Currently, Parts Town stocks parts from more than 800 OEM partners.
The dynamic company was founded in 1987 as a restaurant equipment parts distributor for local service companies, but has grown enormously in the last few decades. It started off with five employees and revenue of less than $3 million. By 2019, Parts Town had over 500 employees, servicing clients in the United States, Canada, and abroad.
The Parts Town team has always been proud of sticking to their same-day delivery promise: Any order placed by 9pm gets shipped that very same day.
“You can imagine if a restaurant has an oven down and they’re trying to make pizzas – that’s their livelihood,” says Kenny William, Senior Director of Process Improvement at Parts Town. “You know they need to be up and running as soon as possible.”
Parts Town has been so successful in delivering on their promise that they’ve seen massive growth over the years. But, at one point, order printouts and manual pushcarts being moved around by pickers just weren’t feasible anymore. It was time for an automated warehouse system.
There were, however, several considerations: Because of the nature of the restaurant business, the parts facility had to maintain business continuity during expansion. The team had to install a system that could expand with them as they continued to grow.
“Parts Town has always been about exceptional customer service, and AutoStore helps us to do the impossible every day.”
Parts Town’s AutoStore system, empowered by Bastian Solutions, went live in November 2017. It took five weeks to erect the grid and seven weeks to put in the Bins. The software implementation took place in tandem and took about five months.
The extensive warehouse currently operates with 29 Robots, 15,100 Bins, and six ports – two for putting away merchandise and four for picking. The Bins are stacked an impressive 16 levels high.
When an order comes through, a Robot finds the Bin in which the item is stored. If this Bin is below others, it places the extra Bins on top of the grid, retrieves the right Bin, and delivers it to the employee filling out the order. Another Robot then places the displaced Bins back into their original positions.
The system keeps Bins that contain the more popular products as close as possible to the top of the grid to be retrieved more easily.
The change has been dramatic.
“We installed almost a mile of conveyor, a lot of it elevated, so that we could cut down drastically on the amount of walking the employees needed to do,” says William. “It enabled us to expand our AutoStore goods-to-person inventory system by two and a half times.”
William mentions that AutoStore has, for several reasons, been a fantastic solution.
One of the most significant advantages has been their ability to cut down on order consolidation. Since any Robot in the AutoStore system can collect any Bin and deliver it to any Port, a single Parts Town warehouse operator can now pick anything that’s inside the grid. The pick rates are also four to five times faster than the rates that were achieved when employees were picking on foot.
“Our current system only takes up 7% of the facility footprint, even though, with the current items that are in there, we're picking almost 65% of our volume,” says William.
He adds that, if there is a problem with a Robot, it can be pulled off the grid without causing any disruptions. The rest of the system simply keeps on working.
“Not only are we more productive, but we’re more accurate too,” adds William. “Parts Town has always been about exceptional customer service, and AutoStore helps us to do the impossible every day.”
AutoStore can fit any warehouse or fulfillment center. Make yours the next.