Most drivers keep their vehicles for an average of 8.4 years. However, with the pandemic and resulting economic uncertainty driving up new car prices, that number has steadily grown. With greater longevity expected of cars, the need to keep them in top condition underscores the forecasted global automotive aftermarket parts industry growth from $407.5 billion in 2021 to $529.88 billion in 2028.
That’s a lot of parts to stock and distribute. Yet with today’s workforce shortages, automotive supply chain managers are often experiencing huge pileups in their inbound and outbound operations. They need a reliable, on-demand workforce to help them simplify logistics and get back on track.
I personally understand the challenges facing warehouse managers in the automotive industry. I spent more than 20 years at General Motors North America, including as a manager of warehousing for spare parts. I have experienced the pressures of not having enough workers to get the right parts out the door on time, while containing costs, managing inbound logistics, and communicating with suppliers, auto parts stores, dealers, and automotive repair shops.
In this blog, we’ll cover how logistics services and partnerships can help automotive companies streamline their supply chain management even in the face of labor shortages.
There are a number of challenges facing warehouse managers tasked with filling orders for aftermarket and spare parts. Here are a few that I’ve faced in my own career.
Although not isolated to aftermarket automotive logistics, warehousing associates have been difficult to attract, hire, and retain throughout virtually every supply chain. In my experience, without adequate headcount, it can be exceptionally difficult to ensure trailers are loaded and unloaded efficiently and with minimal delay. Inventory putaway and replenishment activities are often downgraded in priority over picking and packing orders. Plus, accuracy suffers as fewer workers rush to make carrier cut-off times for shipments.
This can wreak havoc on other areas of your business such as vehicle logistics or connecting with a freight forwarding partner. In the automotive sector, trouble in the supply chain can be just as costly as delays on production lines or in the manufacturing process, all of which are negatively impacted by labor shortages.
With hundreds of thousands of makes, models, and years of vehicles on the road, the enormous diversity of products and new technology that flow through automakers’ logistics operations — both inbound and outbound — is staggering. Air filters, battery accessories, car covers, tires and rims, manuals, spark plugs, and the thousands of other parts and raw materials that go into an individual car, need to be accurately stocked, identified, and picked.
Some are extremely heavy. Others are small and light. Regardless of the part needed, I know how important it is to train warehouse personnel to navigate the facility and find the correct items quickly to meet customer service level agreements (SLAs). Otherwise, missed deadlines and quality errors could grow out of control and you’ll likely face fines. This eventually drives a wedge between your operations and the customers it serves.
Whether you’re an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or selling parts under your own brand name, you likely have a diverse customer base with a range of needs. Some orders might require building mixed pallets of different products to replenish retail stores and service centers. Others could be single items shipping direct-to-consumer or overnight for an urgent repair.
Warehouse managers are responsible for educating staff on how to best pack totes and containers to minimize transportation costs. They are also tasked with finding logistics solutions such as ensuring maximum cubic trailer load efficiency and minimizing rush shipping charges to get the best overall transportation value. It can be difficult to focus on these details without enough staffing, though; meanwhile, costs can quickly spiral out of control.
When faced with labor challenges, managers frequently turn to temporary staffing to handle logistics operations. Yet I've found that these temporary workers actually create more headaches than they solve.
They’re often inexperienced in warehousing, which means you have to take time for safety training that meets Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations. Not to mention guiding them through understanding part numbers, inventory locations, and proper packing techniques — especially when most temps don’t come back the next day.
Temporary staffers strain a warehousing manager’s responsibilities even more by being an added liability for supervision instead of an asset to the company.
FHI understands that your needs for aftermarket parts handling are unique within automotive industry logistics. That’s why we offer FHI NOW™, an on-demand staffing solution that supplements your existing labor force and resolves your workforce challenges.
FHI NOW is not temporary labor. Instead, based on your operation’s needs, we deploy qualified, trained, professional warehouse associates with dedicated supervision to your facility. This allows automotive logistics managers to focus on what they do best — getting the right parts into the loading dock and out the door to customers, keeping stores and service centers stocked, and putting cars back on the road.
Here's what sets FHI apart:
FHI NOW team members have an average of more than 12 months of experience working in a broad range of operation types, including manual, semi-automated, and automated. Their areas of expertise include order selection, equipment operation, loading and unloading of trailers, light industrial work, or general warehouse labor. Any necessary certifications are up to date. Your internal team no longer has to dedicate time, resources, and expenses to staffing your facility.
FHI NOW associates are trained “the FHI Way,” including how to work safely, efficiently, and accurately. They know their way around a warehouse, understand the part number's importance, strive for accuracy and efficiency, and embody our DNA, “Hard Work Done Right®”. FHI’s associates have an exceptionally small learning curve and are highly productive from day one.
Every FHI NOW team is accompanied by designated onsite leadership. FHI’s team leaders have an average of more than five years of warehouse operations and people management experience. This team leader is responsible for ensuring the team meets productivity goals safely, quickly, and efficiently, taking that responsibility off the warehouse manager.
FHI NOW’s leadership and associates often drive efficiency improvements in existing operations by streamlining inventory flow or improving ergonomics. They actively look for waste and implement lean processes that cut costs and add value to your supply chain.
At FHI, we understand the unique demands and challenges of your aftermarket logistics operations. Want to see the impact FHI can have? Check out how we helped AMS Osram Sylvania eliminate more than $1 million per month in SLA penalties and stabilize over $300 million in business.
We can do the same for your automotive industry logistics operation. Let us deploy an experienced team to resolve your labor shortage and get your facility back on track.
Dealing with a labor challenge in your warehouse? We're here to help your operations with a team of warehousing professionals who personify Hard Work Done Right®.
Schedule a call, and we'll be happy to answer your questions and share additional information about how FHI NOW’s reliable, on-demand workforce simplifies logistics for aftermarket auto parts. And don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn.
In any market, your supply chain can make or break your ability to compete well. Don't leave that to chance. We can help you create a stronger operation, so you never fall behind the competition.