Otto BMW

Otto’s BMW February 18, 2011

West Chester, Pennsylvania

Problem: How to maximize space and improve efficiency

Solution: A complete redesign of the department and its workflow using a variety of Vidmar products

Benefit: Storage capacity was doubled without increasing space. Parts are easier to find. Employees use more of their time productively.

Products Used: CabinetsVertical Lift ModuleMezzanines

The parts department at Otto’s BMW has an air of quiet efficiency, with neat rows of cabinets with drawers, wide aisles, and bright lights. Parts manager Ed Danser proudly calls it “a great place to work.” He also says that it’s a vast improvement over what it was six months before.

The 12-person department, which supports more than 20 technicians servicing up to 60 cars per day, needed to increase its inventory but had no room to expand. It also needed a better workflow scheme. Parts were being stored in boxes on open shelves, and were sometimes hard to find. Technicians would be lined up on one side of the counter clamoring for parts, while the four counter guys would be lined up on the other, sharing the department’s inventory-control computers or rushing back and forth from shelves to fill orders. “It was stressful,” recalls Danser. “You could feel the negative dynamic.”

Danser worked with Stanley Vidmar to completely redesign the department. This not only doubled the effective storage space, but also let him rethink the way his employees did their jobs.

The storage plan included a combination of high-density cabinets for the many small, fast-moving parts (from brake pads to thermostats to bulbs); an automated vertical lift system for heavier and less frequently used parts (axles, instrument clusters, and trim pieces to name a few); and a new mezzanine to store bulky items such as fenders, doors, windshields, and transmissions.

Twenty-five new Vidmar cabinets with eight drawers each also have separate overhead door cabinets. They’re placed close to the counter and outfitted with full-depth partitions and dividers customized to the particular parts they hold.

Because of the building’s 25-ft. high ceilings, Stanley Vidmar was able to install a Dual Vertical Lift Module (VLM). The VLM is an automated, high-density storage tower with two vertical stacks of drawers and a touch-screen computer that lets a worker summon a drawer and have it served up in 15 seconds. The 78 drawers in Otto’s VLM range in depth from 3 in. to 14 in., providing nearly 900 square feet of storage in a footprint that’s less than 100 square feet.

This new system has even helped make the dealerships automotive technicians more efficient. “In some dealerships, a technician can waste as many as 1-1/2 hours per day waiting for parts,” says Danser. “We have been able to eliminate a lot of that.”