Many car dealers are increasingly focusing on the service side of the business in order to stabilise trade. In doing so, the seasonal tyre change is playing an ever more important role. At the Belgian car dealer Delorge, in the city of Hasselt, the tyre service has gone from being an instrument purely designed to establish customer loyalty to a lucrative source of additional business. This has been made possible by a new automated storage and retrieval solution from Intertex, the industry partner of intralogistics supplier Kardex Remstar.
There is no legal requirement to fit winter tyres in Belgium. However, since a growing number of Belgians drive to Germany and France for winter sports, the demand for tyre changes and storage has grown considerably over the last five years. Delorge, authorised dealer for VW, Audi and Skoda, has taken account of this development. Two storage units from Intertex have been integrated at the location in Hasselt since the beginning of 2015. Based on the goods to person principle, the goods stored in the Intermat unit are conveyed to the person at the touch of a button, allowing car dealers to benefit from fast access to stored goods. But lack of space was also a problem at Delorge. Properties are very expensive in Hasselt, the prosperous capital city of the Belgian province of Limburg. When Delorge built a new building location about two years ago, the car dealer wanted to remain on the outskirts of the city despite the high real estate prices. The car dealership had to remain visible and easily accessible for its customers.
With seven locations in total, Delorge is one of the biggest car dealers in Belgium. In Hasselt, 6,600 summer and winter tyres, new tyres and alloy wheels are stored on a footprint measuring less than 1,506 square feet. That's enough tires for 1,650 vehicles. Yet the 65 feet deep "tyre hotel" is not even full. Around 40 percent of the storage capacity is still free, which means Delorge is well prepared for future growth.
Delorge has been using a Shuttle XP 500 Vertical Lift Module (VLM) from Kardex Remstar for storing spare parts for quite some time. Marc Willen, regional sales manager at Kardex Remstar in Belgium, suggested a more efficient way of handling tyres with an automated storage solution. At the time, Delorge was having to contract an external company to manage its tyre storage operation due to a lack of space. This resulted in complex work processes, long distances and long wait times for customers. Now the car dealer can not only offer its customers top service at competitive prices, but also generates sales in this service area. Owner Peter Guelinchx says, "We only need a tenth of time previously spent on the tire service. We no longer have to worry about logistics."
The tyre set is retrieved from the Intermat at the fitting station. The tyres are stored away by license plate and vehicle identification number (VIN). The customer's own software shows when the tyres have been placed in storage and retrieved as well as how old they are. The changed and checked tyre set is stored away in the same location. The Intermat's goods to person principle ensures the employees can work ergonomically. Anyone who is familiar with conventional storage situations with pallets or racks will appreciate an automated solution: no searching, bending, stooping or reaching for stored items.
"The tyre hotel is certainly one of the biggest we have installed to date," says sales manager Marc Willen. "But we can also provide economically attractive solutions for smaller tyre hotels. Here, too, the payback period is generally less than a year."
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