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Managing the Auto Repair Shop’s Inventory Dilemma

Managing the Auto Repair Shop’s Inventory Dilemma

We’d all like to have a crystal ball that could predict inventory needs. Auto repair shops have a particularly complex challenge, with so many factors that affect inventory needs: types of repairs, makes of automobiles, distance to a parts supplier. Shop owners want to keep every imaginable part in stock, to move business through the shop quickly and meet customer expectations of fast turn-arounds. But that’s simply not practical – even with the most space-efficient storage system, the inventory-storage demands would eat up all the available space then begin spilling over into mechanics’ work areas.

Innovative technology may be changing the way parts inventories are stored and managed, however. These include:

3D Printing

The number of vehicles in operation (VIO) that are 12 years old or more is predicted to grow by 15 percent by 2019, increasing the demand for scarce older parts. In addition, new trade tariffs will push the price of imported parts much higher. At the same time, 3D printing is becoming ever more affordable and ever more sophisticated. Some experts predict that 3D printed parts will be created as needed in repair shops and parts houses, reducing or eliminating the need to stockpile old or unusual parts.

The Connected Car

Today’s automobiles have an average of 60 sensors, but by 2025 they will have more than 200, according to Peter Witkamp of Automotive Dynamics. These sensors will be connected to original equipment dealers, taking the diagnosis and repair of faulty sensors out of the hands of independent mechanics. Auto repair shops will be relieved of the burden of maintaining an inventory of such a broad array of sensors. However, consumers may eventually demand control of sensory connectivity, and bring their business to their local repair shop, potentially increasing inventory storage needs.

Improved Automotive Data Analytics

As the accuracy of predictive data analytics software increases, localized demand analyses will allow repair shop owners to assess the inventory needs in their specific area and manage their inventories accordingly. And with increased connectivity, vehicles themselves will generate parts-demand predictions as part of their automated self analysis. Better data will help repair shops keep the right parts and the right quantities on hand, as well as predicting fluctuations in storage needs.

In sum, the needs of auto parts inventory management are in flux. A flexible, modular storage system with space-saving vertical storage can easily adapt to these changing needs, both in the near term and for the long haul. If your shop is looking to the future, now is the time to consider how you’ll store your parts inventory.


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