Vertical lift module keeps automotive parts moving

Zimbrick European parts department relocates and reduces storage floor space while increasing worker productivity by 70%.

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Zimbrick European, located in Madison, Wisc., is focused on servicing quality cars like Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Audi. The parts department is focused on providing quality service to its customers, including 23 service technicians.

When the Zimbrick European operation expanded into a new building, its original 2,300-square-foot parts department was only allotted 400 square feet on the first floor, with the majority of the parts storage in a second floor mezzanine area. “We needed a means to move parts between floors, short of running up and down the stairs every time we needed to store a part or remove a part from inventory to sell it,” explains Steve Stepnock, parts and service director.

So, Zimbrick European installed a vertical lift module (VLM; Kardex Remstar, Now, once parts are received and checked in by a clerk on the first floor, the system is updated to reflect accurate inventory levels. Fast moving, smaller parts are stored in the VLM on the first floor, while slow moving, larger parts are stored on the second floor mezzanine in bin shelving. Selectable access pick windows in the VLM link the two levels and facilitate part sharing in storage and retrieval operations. 

When a service technician needs a part, he uses the computer in the workstall to transmit the request to the parts department, where an employee looks up its location and availability. If the part is stored in the VLM, the request is transferred and the machine automatically retrieves it. “It’s absolutely seamless,” says Stepnock.

If the part is stored on the second floor, a clerk retrieves it and uses the VLM to transport it down to a runner who delivers it to the technician. “The whole idea is not to have our technicians leave their workstalls to procure parts,” says Stepnock.

In its new space, the VLM has enabled the Zimbrick European parts department to support its technicians, satisfy its wholesale business by supplying parts to local Madison body shops, and service walk-in customers. It has also reduced floor storage space by 84%, cut labor and the risk of injury, and increased productivity by 70%.

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About the Author

Lorie King Rogers
Lorie King Rogers, associate editor, joined Modern in 2009 after working as a freelance writer for the Casebook issue and show daily at tradeshows. A graduate of Emerson College, she has also worked as an editor on Stock Car Racing Magazine.

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