What Do You Do
When its tire-and-wheel sub-assembly partner moved to another state to consolidate its operations,
Daimler Trucks North America had to find another provider near its Freightliner plants in the Carolinas.
It chose Kontane Logistics.
o doubt there are any number
of reasons why a relationship
ends between a customer and
its logistics services provider,
It’s probably not often that a company is literally left behind, but it happened to Daimler Trucks North America
when its provider of wheel-and-tire sub-assembly services simply left the region
where DTNA was manufacturing trucks.
DTNA is part of the Daimler family,
whose premium brand is Mercedes-Benz automobiles. DTNA itself has several brands of heavy- and medium-duty
commercial vehicles and other products,
including Western Star and Freightliner
trucks, Detroit Diesel engines and
Thomas Built buses.
Daimler Trucks North America is headquartered in Portland, Oregon, but it has
manufacturing facilities around the country.
Two of its Freightliner plants are located in
North Carolina; another is in South Carolina.
And it was those three that experienced the
break in the relationship.
A unit of Alcoa had provided wheel-and-tire sub-assembly services from a
facility in Salisbury, N.C., only a half hour
or so from the truck manufacturing plants.
The work consisted of receiving tires from
original equipment manufacturers, such
as Michelin or Goodyear, mounting them
on truck wheels and doing other preparatory work, then shipping them by road to
the Freightliner plants.
Alcoa, however, was going through a
national consolidation and relocation program for its sub-assembly sites. Corporate
decided to shut the plant in North Carolina, but it was apparently willing to continue the work for DTNA from its new site.
That was unacceptable to Daimler Trucks
since it required sub-assembly operations
to be maintained within close proximity of
Continuing with Alcoa would have
placed the tire-and-wheel mounting operation a day’s drive away instead of 30 minutes, says Mike McCurry, plant manager for
Freightliner’s truck manufacturing facility in
Cleveland, N.C. Anything beyond a 75-mile
drive in the Carolinas was considered altogether too risky, he says.
Once mounted, the tires are shipped
in plant line sequence that ideally
matches a particular vehicle with a specific set of tires and wheels. There are any
number of reasons why tire-and-wheel
sets are not fungible and have to be
sequenced very carefully. Differing tire
brands and variations in colors of wheels
are just two of them.
Freightliner is “pretty close” to a just-in-
time operation, McCurry says, and sched-
ules can change for various reasons.
“Having Alcoa a day away posed flexibility
problems. Just suppose the truck delivering
the tires gets caught in a snow storm –
we’ve got no tires and wheels to put on the
trucks. We don’t keep three or four days’
worth of tires in inventory on site.”
It was time to find a replacement, an
entity that could do the work nearby and
give the peace of mind that DTNA execs
needed. Enter Kontane Logistics, a divi-
sion of Kontane Inc., a designer and
builder of packaging systems. Kontane
Logistics, which offers warehousing,
cross-docking, line sequencing, fulfill-
ment activities, foreign trade zone serv-
ices, and sub-assembly, began by taking