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Colony Tire & Service Centers

Colony Tire Corporation is one of the country's top tire dealers with retail, commercial, Michelin retread and warehouse operations based in Edenton, NC. Colony operates approximately forty five facilities throughout North Carolina and Virginia.

Colony Tire knows how effectively managing the flow of inventory in and out of their warehouse affects their profitability as well as that of the tire dealers they serve. The Edenton, NC, based distributor, retailer and manufacturer plays an important role in ensuring the safe and reliable performance of vehicles ranging from cars, SUV's, light trucks, as well as, on and off road truck, industrial and farm tires. The company and its employees strive to provide customers with the best service and products, and as a result, it has experienced significant growth since being founded in 1976.

Colony Tire's continual growth has made its warehouse a very busy place. The company's daily inventory averages near 160,000 tire units. To accommodate the demand for inbound and outbound products, the company employs nearly 35 warehouse staff in three separate facilities that total over 200,000 square feet. The Colony Tire facilities are extremely busy with product flowing in and out at a rapid pace requiring them to closely manage their business processes to insure their employees are operating at peak performance at all times.

The Challenge

Colony Tire has relied upon their ASA tire dealer management system for years to manage their inventory. In 2008 management realized that it had to do something to enhance their ability to meet the increase in order transactions and improve their ability to manage the in and out bound flow of products. Its technical team developed a locator system that allowed warehouse workers to assign and record bin locations on their receiver's paperwork as they put-away tires. These locations were then recorded by office staff into a database which was then used to mark the pick tickets before their being released to the warehouse for processing. As the pace of business increased, this manual bin locator system began posing some productivity and accuracy challenges.

Since the system was not integrated with its tire dealer management system or mobile devices, warehouse workers had to print out all receiving, picking and shipping information in order to process customer orders and store transfers. The paper-based system created inventory control and efficiency problems for both the office and warehouse. As their transaction counts increased and the proliferation of brands and sizes continued, it was becoming increasingly more difficult to maintain accurate records which resulted in inventory being harder to locate. Colony Tire's efforts to provide the highest levels of service to its customers were being impeded, productivity was down and shipments were delayed.

Growing Pains

"Physical counts would invariably result in significant amounts of product missing or misplaced. At times the numbers would be so high that we knew the products were not missing, but instead had been either documented improperly or paperwork had been misplaced," says Hollowell. "We knew that an automated solution would help us resolve not only our inventory control issues and overall performance levels within the warehouse but also our space utilization problem."

The company has experienced significant growth during the last five years and came to realize that its system could not support the increasing transactional volumes or movement of inventory. Management determined that the only way for it to improve warehouse operations and make it easier for staff to deliver the highest levels of customer service the company had been accustomed to delivering was through the effective use of technology. In order to manage growth, Colony Tire decided to redesign their warehouse and implement a scalable

The Solution

Recently, Colony Tire made the decision to replace its internally developed bin locator system and began evaluating warehouse management software. Management realized early on that in order to realize the benefits of a warehouse system, they had to implement a system that would seamlessly integrate with their ASA tire dealer management system. After months evaluating different systems, site visits and considering a number of selection criteria,

Colony Tire selected Royal 4 Systems as its technology partner to help streamline its warehouse operations.

According to Andrew Bergeron, Colony Tire's, Executive VP, "Royal 4's partner relationship with ASA, our point of sale systems provider, was a critical factor in our decision but not the only reason. The fact that Royal 4 had 100's of satisfied customers, including one of our suppliers, Toyo Tire, experienced engineers and the ability to provide 24x7 support made them the clear systems provider of choice for Colony Tire. In addition, our management team felt more comfortable partnering with a company that had co-developed a data interface that would help insure a smooth flow of information between the two systems", says Bergeron.

"Another key component of the overall solution was Royal 4's demand forecasting module which should enable us to make more informed buying decisions based on sales history, trends and seasonality. This will not only help us better utilize our warehouse space but we should be able to increase our inventory turns and decrease our handling costs."

WISE Tire Warehouse Manager

Royal 4 Systems' WISE tire warehouse manager system (WISE) provides an RF solution for inventory receiving, put-away, cross-docking, product location, picking, shipping, tire aging alerts, NAFTA compliance, outbound documentation and more. Since 1984, Royal 4 has been providing leading software solutions to successful companies worldwide. The WISE system seamlessly integrates with ASA's tire dealer management system's inventory and purchasing modules in real time, vastly increasing efficiencies and reducing costly data entry errors. The Royal 4 partnership with ASA represents the first true integration of a tire dealer management system and warehouse management software for independent tire dealers.

The Key Benefits to Colony Tire

Implementing WISE within the Colony Tire warehouse is allowing the organization to better meet customer expectations with significant productivity, accuracy and service improvements.

The integration of WISE with ASA's tire dealer management system gives employees the tools to better track inventory from the moment it arrives at the dock to the time it is shipped to the customer. The ability to accurately track product has translated into tremendous inventory control improvements and significant reduction in the costs associated with missing product.

In addition, the new system has defined a work flow path for each order picker that helps them quickly locate products and then plots efficient routes through the warehouse to complete their assigned tasks. With the paper based system, warehouse staff regularly spent 10 - 12 hours picking products. Today, the process takes a maximum of eight hours representing a 30 per cent increase in overall order fulfillment speed. This increased fulfillment speed has enabled the company to handle the increased transaction counts with fewer people while at the same time improving customer service.

The Future

The company has realized operational benefits by significantly improving how tires are received, put away, picked and packed says Andrew Bergeron. The entire process has been streamlined to meet the high transactional volumes, improve order fill rates and better serve our customers. In addition, Colony Tire has realized a 95% inventory accuracy rate which we expect will improve over time.