From the outside perspective, an automotive parts distribution center might look like any other distribution center. Big rectangular building with high walls and dock doors for freight trucks, store delivery trucks and parcel carriers with a walk-in section for will call pick up are definitely not unusual for many warehouses.
However, when stepping foot inside an auto parts warehouse for the first time, one might notice that there are some pretty big differences compared to warehouses in most other industries. Yes, inventory is received, put-away into storage, picked, packed and shipped just like any other distribution center.
The variety of inventory items do not look alike at all. And there doesn’t seem to be a lot of high velocity SKUs being picked, but instead, order pickers scurry around their areas pulling from various storage locations and not seeming to return to the same one very often.
Also, there is an area for returns that isn’t tucked away in an ugly corner away from the facility tour route. In fact, in order to compete for business in this $300 billion market to provide parts to the 254 million cars and trucks on the road today in the US, auto parts distributors must consider some critical and unique aspects about their industry when planning and designing a distribution center: Variety of Storage Medium, Efficient Order Picking and Scalability and System Flexibility