FENTON, Mo.-Purcell Tire & Rubber Co. is so committed to delivering ``consistent quality'' to the commercial trucking industry, the Potosi, Mo.-based company stocked its newest retread plant/service center with every piece of computer-assisted machinery it could find. For instance, ask an employee in the retread plant about a particular casing, and he'll be able to tell you who touched it at what time simply by looking it up on one of the computer screens sitting an arm's-length away from each piece of the firm's Bandag Inc. retread equipment.
Approach the service counter, and you might be surprised to have an employee welcome you by name after looking up your license plate in the Purcell database.
The entire plant, in fact, is ``paperless,'' Purcell officials said. Employees track casings, tires and customers via computer screens.
But the machines are not just electronic gadgets, according to Dennis Flynn, executive vice president for Purcell. Every machine in the 50,000-sq.-ft. ``mega truck tire center'' boosts efficiency.
``The retread plant itself is equipped with all of the latest Bandag equipment,'' Mr. Flynn said during the company's April 26 grand opening ceremony. ``This technologically advanced equipment is designed to drive variation out of the retread process and help us deliver consistent quality to our trucking customers.''
The new outlet, which opened in January, had been in the planning stages for four years, Mr. Flynn said. The facility gives Purcell 48 sales and service locations, including seven retread plants, in 11 states.
Company officials are so impressed with the early indications of the plant's operating efficiency they plan to upgrade their Paducah, Ky., retread plant in a similar manner.
Among the center's features are:
A spacious, well-lit, monorail-equipped Bandag retread plant currently producing about 120 retreads per eight-hour shift;
A 25,000-sq.-ft. warehouse storing about 6,000 tires-the largest such inventory in the St. Louis area, Mr. Flynn said;
A rim cleaning and painting area that allows technicians to accurately inspect for rim damage. ``Everybody likes to have them new and shiny and white, but the real reason for this is safety,'' said Paul Long, Purcell special projects manager;
Office space for seven commercial sales representatives;
A training and conference room for employees; and
A truck service area dominated by two nose-to-nose alignment pits filled with Hunter Engineering Co. alignment equipment.
Purcell ranked as the fifth-largest commercial dealership in North America, according to TIRE BUSINESS' 1995 listing, based on 1994 commercial sales (commercial tires, service and retreading) of $96 million. The company said its commercial sales increased 7.2 percent to $103 million in 1995.