COMMERCE CITY, CO – Atlas Copco drilling customers are receiving orders faster thanks to a new Rock Drilling Tools (RDT) distribution center in Chambersburg, PA. The dedicated 18,000-square-foot warehouse optimizes the U.S. delivery system, serving as dedicated, centralized "replenishment point" for Atlas Copco customer centers and authorized distributors.

The RDT distribution center is part of a larger worldwide initiative to enhance customer service through supply chain improvements.

Tammy Cairns-Buhler, an Atlas Copco RDT global optimization project manager, took charge of the system transition in the U.S. She said Chambersburg, PA, was chosen after an initial study determined its strategic shipping advantages. More than 70% of drilling consumables are used in New England, the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast.

The centralized system also streamlines shipments coast-to-coast and north and south, from Alaska to Florida, improving product availability countrywide.

The rapid setup of the dedicated RDT distribution center was the first demonstration of its efficiency. "The first 40-foot truck left Allen, TX, on August 26," Cairns-Buhler said. "The last of 13 trucks arrived in Chambersburg on September 4. And on September 7, we dispatched our first shipment -- a week ahead of schedule."

Atlas Copco stores can now keep a leaner inventory while customers benefit from shorter lead times on their tooling orders.

"Critical stock will continue to be maintained at the stores as needed, of course. But our global inventory control system lets stores get product sooner, and the quicker turnaround allows them to keep the rest of their inventory lean," Cairns-Buhler added.

Eliminating the previous need for stores to keep high stock levels reduces inefficiencies of inventory control and storage-related costs. The goal is improved product availability and enhanced customer service throughout the U.S.

A practical demonstration of the distribution center's effect on shipping came about shortly after its startup. The center received two 40-foot-long sea containers of product urgently needed in both Elko, Nevada and Alaska.

Cairns-Buhler said it can typically take two people using a boom lift around two and a half hours just to offload long products like drill steel from a single container. Then orders have to be organized, packaged and sent out for delivery.

However, the order went out the same day due to the efficiency of the distribution center team, in collaboration with the product manager, third-party transportation agencies, the Atlas Copco customer service team in Commerce City, CO, and the customers themselves. The Alaska shipment actually arrived in Seattle, WA, a day early, with plenty of time to make the weekly barge to Alaska.

"In some cases, our supply line optimization has shaved two weeks off lead times," Cairns-Buhler said.