Focus on: Logistics


Pep Boys reduces costs with Web-based transportation management system

When it comes to logistics efficiency, Pep Boys, a leading automotive aftermarket service and retail chain, is committed to staying ahead of the curve by managing cost, mitigating risk and driving best-in-class operations.


“Our ability to do so is rooted in the partnerships we have developed, and the technology we have employed to create a level of visibility that allows us to know our logistics characteristics and make fact-based decisions early on,” said Joshua Dolan, director of global logistics and U.S. Customs Compliance at Pep Boys, which operates more than 700 stores in 35 states and Puerto Rico. “This allows us to review and evolve constantly.” 


One of Pep Boys’ key partners is the transportation management services and logistics technology solutions provider Transplace. Since 2006, Pep Boys has utilized the Dallas-based supplier’s Web-based transportation management system (TMS) to manage the transportation planning, execution and analytics component of its logistics network — specifically the inbound transportation from domestic vendors to its distribution centers and cross-docks. 


The solution gives Pep Boys (and its suppliers) the technology and business intelligence tools needed to plan, monitor and optimize shipments. It also gives the chain the ability to access real-time reports and the drill-down capability to see information that is critical to effective business operations. 


“Speaking broadly, Transplace provides Pep Boys with the technology that we employ to execute our domestic logistics platform,” Dolan explained. “We use the technology not only from a transactional standpoint, but also from a strategic one, due to the data that we are able to pull out of the system. The visibility the system provides allows us to understand what’s going on in our business in real time, which helps us significantly.”


Pep Boys does not outsource its domestic transportation. It procures and maintains its own contracts with its carriers, who are required to have full connectivity with Transplace through EDI.


“This connectivity allows us to maintain visibility and have full access to how operations are being executed from the time shipment is planned to the day it is delivered,” Dolan said. “It also allows us to optimize shipments and manage carriers, in addition to providing the level of historical detail we need to plan and be more strategic about our decisions.”


This technology gives Pep Boys a virtual glass pipeline for viewing its freight, and provides it with what Dolan calls “actionable intelligence.” The chain has three in-house systems experts who navigate throughout the system on a daily basis.


“Because we have such good visibility to transactional data, we have the ability, for example, to go back and review data and find opportunities where we can synchronize inbound operations with our dedicated fleet’s outbound operations and leverage the fleet to eliminate empty miles and unnecessary fuel from our operations,” Dolan said. 


According to Dolan, the major benefit of the Transplace solution is that it allows Pep Boys to leverage its fixed expenses with its variable demand in driving waste out of the network.


“We have enjoyed significant cost savings by leveraging the Transplace technology,” he added. 


With its business growing, Pep Boys is determined to maintain capacity and costs even as it faces a number of challenges, including rising fuel expenses. “Also, the market is continuing to put pressure on shippers, with demand outstripping capacity in some markets,” Dolan added. “But by further utilizing the technology and improving how we run operations, we will continue to find ways to drive more efficiency throughout the entire company.” 


mwilson@chainstoreage.com

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