HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — It's just not your father's supply chain anymore.
Today, the supply chain that begins on a rubber plantation in Southeast Asia, eventually moves to a tire manufacturing plant somewhere across the globe and finally ends on the wheels of a consumer vehicle has become more complex — and analytical — than ever before.
According to Bill Hancock, senior vice president, supply chain operations at American Tire Distributors Inc. (ATD), today's supply chain works best as a "flexible ecosystem," one in which every stakeholder understands the role each needs to play and the insights they can share in order to create a successful ecosystem.
Mr. Hancock said ATD, North America's largest tire distributor, sees itself as a full-service, end-to-end supply chain solutions provider.
A big part of that, he said, is working with ATD's manufacturing partners in order to ensure "they have right demand signals, the right forecast in place, the right visibility that pulls them all the way down to the consumers on what types of product they need to manufacture, and what quantity and where to have it."
ATD's advanced analytics platform, he said, helps to provide deeper levels of insights for manufacturers, "so that they can confidently produce what they need to be successful."
The advanced analytics platform, he said, helps ATD understand the level and type of inventory needed at its 140 distribution centers and mixing warehouses across North America.
"How do we leverage our hub-and-spoke setup, our national assortment setup to make sure that our customers ultimately get what they want?" Mr. Hancock said. "That demand-planning framework is important for both the manufacturer and our customers, because some of our customers have very unique needs. So we're able to leverage an information-sharing agreement across all of those areas to provide the right visibility and availability."
A new link in the supply chain has become increasingly important, according to Mr. Hancock: the direct-to-consumer piece. It continues to grow as e-commerce becomes the routine rather than the exception.
ATD's ship-to-home program provides services for all major players selling tires online, according to Mr. Hancock.
"If you purchase tires online, there's a really good chance that it came through our network," he said. "And when you look at our network, we can provide things that are difficult for others to provide, just based on the number of D/Cs that we have and where they are located."
He said many of the e-commerce and brick-and-mortar customers are the same.
"We can provide same-day delivery options and next-day delivery options at price point that is really compelling for those e-commerce providers."
Mr. Hancock said add-on services, such as ATD Express — including partnerships with couriers, on-demand providers and other partial carriers — allows the tire wholesaler "to provide the right level of service and meet those needs" while ensuring it has the capacity required to service larger customers.