Case Study: Inventory / Warehouse / Customer Service System – Sullivan Tire
Established in 1955, Sullivan Tire has expanded from a small freestanding garage in Rockland, Massachusetts to over 50 retail and commercial truck tire locations across Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and Rhode Island and is currently one of the largest independent tire dealers in the United States. As a result of this sustained growth, the significant increase in volume was creating warehouse storage and customer service problems.
- Improve inventory control capabilities.
Due to the seasonal nature of its business, Sullivan Tire was experiencing serious problems with it’s warehousing operation. In addition to spending excess time searching for tires, employees were often forced to retrace steps during picking routes through the warehouse. Sullivan Tire believed that improved software would correct the problem.
- Integrate software functions.
Sullivan tire used two independent software products to control inventory. One system developed and maintained internally by Sullivan Tire, controlled order processing, invoicing, and accounting. The other, provided by Goodyear Tire and Rubber, was used for receiving and warehousing of tire inventories. Customer service representatives required individual terminals to access each system and, because no data exchange capabilities existed, were forced to manually record transactions. Consolidation of software was the desired goal.
- Develop a customer service system.
Because no formal customer service system existed, and due to all transactions being recorded manually by pen and paper, Sullivan Tire was not satisfied with the service being provided to its customers. They wanted to implement a system where customer requests and follow-up inquiries could be handled efficiently by any available representative.
- Automate EDI with Bridgestone, Goodyear, Bandag,and National Accounts.
The existing process was very manual and labor intensive. Sullivan Tire wanted to eliminate the need for manual data entry, improve accuracy, and expedite the payment process.
Following a thorough analysis of the existing computer systems, ISG personnel reviewed and documented the day-to-day operations of Sullivan Tire’s business units. This study allowed ISG to compile a list of required functionality that the existing systems were unable to provide. Based upon this information, ISG recommended the development of comprehensive warehousing and customer service modules to be added to the Sullivan Tire system. The installed software provided the following functions:
- Expanded warehouse control.
ISG developed custom software that allowed tire inventories to be stored in multiple bin locations. Using a location prioritization algorithm, pick sheets were designed to automatically remove temporary inventory first and to minimize employee travel through the warehouse. Additional algorithms provided for freeing up space that contained small quantities of product. Enhanced design features also allowed for adding automotive parts to the inventory system.
- Truck route planning, loading, and tracking.
Based upon the customer’s location, ISG developed software designed to plan delivery truck routes and to insure that truck loading was performed on a first in, last off basis. A driver’s messaging system was also developed to insure efficiencies when customers requested pick up and drop off service.
- New customer service system.
In addition to significant cost savings, the elimination of the tire inventory system allowed for consolidation of all functions in Sullivan Tire software. The resulting customer service system, designed and built by ISG, includes call information recording and tracking capabilities, complete with diary notes, access to order, shipping, A/R, and inventory data, and message relay capabilities to truck route drivers.
- A comprehensive solution.
Additional features include viewing scheduled next day deliveries, integration with CCI/Triad for updated parts and labor, installing an inventory locator system and high availability through redundant systems computing.