GARNER, Iowa — Stellar Industries Inc., a supplier of service trucks and cranes for the tire service sector, has opened a parts distribution center (PDC) in Mason City, Iowa.
The facility is designed to provide customers with the service parts they need to keep their equipment running safely and reliably.
"Due to an increasing demand for service parts, we decided in 2020 that in order to continue to satisfy our customers' expectations, a separate service parts warehouse was needed," Nick Anderson, Stellar's customer service manager, said.
"Our new PDC adds value for our customers by increasing the amount of designated service parts in stock and by speeding up the shipping process. Our end goal was to be able to fulfill the majority of service part orders in 24 hours or less."
The 20,000-sq.-ft. PDC went online last September, stocked with parts to fulfill nearly all common service part orders to help reduce customer down time.
Mason City is a city of 27,000 residents about 20 miles east of Stellar's headquarters in Garner, as well 120 miles north of Des Moines, situated along Interstate 35.
The designated four-person shipping team uses the latest packaging and shipping equipment, and most of the orders are shipped in under 24 hours with many shipping the same day, the company said.
"Our shipping metrics show just how much of an impact the PDC has made," Anderson said. "The average lead time to get a service part shipped has dropped by over six days from where it was in January 2022 to where it is currently."
Stellar worked with a team of manufacturing engineering students from Iowa State University (ISU), who were guided by Stellar's manufacturing engineering team. The students worked as summer interns in 2020, collecting data in Stellar's parts area and shipping department on everything from time to ship an order all the way down to the amount of time shipping personnel spent gathering parts from different areas of the business.
While the ISU students were collecting data, a cross-functional team involving sales, marketing, customer service and manufacturing engineering was working to determine what parts needed to be stocked in the warehouse, the company said.
It was determined that a high percentage of service part orders contain many of the same parts, and by stocking these parts, approximately 90% of service part orders could be filled directly from the warehouse. To help overcome any supply chain issues and ensure the PDC does not run out of parts due to seasonality or large order quantities, each part is stocked with sufficient inventory, Stellar said.
Once the ISU team completed collecting data and Stellar's cross-functional team determined which parts to stock, the ISU team designed the warehouse in Stellar's newly acquired Mason City facility.
Using the data they collected, they were able to design a warehouse for maximum efficiency with plenty of room for growth, Stellar said.
"Despite the already overwhelming success of the PDC, there are still many ways we want to continue to improve," Anderson said. "Initiatives such as tailoring our stock numbers to better meet seasonality and customer demands, creating more efficient kitting methods and keeping up with the ever-evolving world of the truck equipment industry will continue to improve our metrics."