Case Study

Parts Authority

Parts Authority’s Automation Upgrade Quadruples Throughput

KPI Solutions

Parts Authority knew they’d need the latest, most efficient order fulfillment solution to succeed in a lucrative new market. That’s why they turned to AutoStore to help their expanded business get off to a promising start.

higher picking and putaway rates
higher expansion capacity
higher throughput

Parts Authority, a brand owned by Kohlberg & Company, has been a leading aftermarket distributor of automotive equipment, tools, and replacement parts since 1973. The company has succeeded in reaching customers across the United States through over a dozen conventional distribution centers (DCs), supplying over 3 million parts ranging from electrical and engine parts to automotive hardware and HVAC components in over 250 stores across the country. However, when the company’s leadership recognized an opportunity to expand their operations in the Northeast, they began looking into solutions to satisfy demand via e-commerce and local orders.

As part of their five-year expansion strategy, the company invested in a new logistics center in Windsor, Connecticut to reach commercial customers and individual consumers throughout the region.

The challenge

For their new 21,000 m² (226,000 ft2) Windsor facility, Parts Authority envisioned an automated warehouse system in which 75% of capacity would be dedicated to e-commerce orders and the remainder 25% for traditional distribution fulfillment and local orders.

However, upon reviewing operational performance at their existing regional distribution centers, Parts Authority determined that traditional manual logistics models would be too slow and inefficient to help them meet the goals outlined in their five-year plan. Furthermore, company leadership was concerned that they may not be able to attract and retain enough staff if the new facility followed the conventional warehousing model.

For these reasons, Parts Authority chose to equip the Windsor site with an automated warehouse system to minimize costs, ensure optimal labor usage, and achieve a high level of operational flexibility and responsiveness to customers’ needs.

Given Parts Authority’s need to minimize travel and processing times while maximizing available space to accommodate inventory for custom orders, AutoStore offered the best solution.

Part Authority's AutoStore system has six picking Ports.
Parts Authority's AutoStore system has six picking Ports integrated under the Grid.

The benefits of the AutoStore system

The AutoStore system helped Parts Authority make the most efficient use of their labor force and resources, kept costs manageable during expansion into the Northeast, and provided the company with wide scope for future scalability as needed. Furthermore, Parts Authority was able to take advantage of the AutoStore system’s exceptional storage density — four times that of conventional facilities like their existing DCs — as well as picking and putaway performance rates ten times higher than traditional logistics methods.

With only 17 standardized parts, the AutoStore system is infinitely customizable to suit any warehouse space or layout, and scalable for heightened operations during expansion drives or peak order periods. And, since the facility is now equipped to more efficiently store and process small orders, Parts Authority was able to achieve a daily throughput of 10,000+ orders, helping them to make headway in the Northeast.

Parts Authority Site picking and replenishment station.
Part Authority's AutoStore system integrated with conveyor technology and put-to-light systems.

How the system works

The system has a capacity for over 80,000 Bins in stacks of 16 in a Grid, an aluminum framework facilitating rapid retrieval by 90 battery-powered Robots and delivery to any of six picking Ports. There, a put-to-light system directs the picking and placement of items into one of 12 reusable totes for further processing. The system occupies over 2,100 m² (23,000 ft2) and has capacity for more than 150,000 stock keeping units (SKUs).

Parts Authority has combined the AutoStore system with AMRs (autonomous mobile robots) from Geek+ and an intelligent warehouse execution software from KPI Solutions. To process bulkier items, such as axles or transmission parts, two separate pallet rack storage areas have been set up for manual processing by warehouse staff.

Since the new facility commenced operations in May 2022, Parts Authority’s automated warehouse solution has been expanded five times to increase system capabilities and help the company stay competitive in one of the most valuable markets in the country.

System overview

Software: Opto Warehouse Execution Software (WES) Suite (KPI Solutions)
90 Robots; 6 Picking Ports (Goods-to-Person); 80,000 Bins
Conveyor System:

Want to learn more about this case?

Talk to an automation expert.

Let's talk

Want to learn more about this case?

Talk to an automation expert.

Let's talk

Let’s figure out how you can benefit from AutoStore

AutoStore can fit any warehouse or fulfillment center. Make yours the next.