Prestolite Electric Charges up Its Inventory Management

When retirements drained its planning expertise and a bad mix of too much inventory put a strain on cash flow, the company brought in a new forecasting tool to power its planning process


Once inventory became more manageable and predictable, Prestolite had enough cash to invest in new and expensive equipment required to launch a new product platform. Over the last two years, the company launched its 12-volt gear-reduced starter motor, the most powerful of its kind in the world, reports Pattacciato. It also launched a 12-volt dual internal fan alternator with the highest amperage in the world. "These heavy-duty products really put us at the cutting edge of where we need to be to compete in our markets," he says. "If we weren't able to get our inventory under control to free up cash, our available capital would have been very limited, which would have postponed the launch of these new products." Managing inventory more effectively reaped another major accomplishment for the company: it qualified to receive refinancing in December 2009.

Pattacciato advises other executives in a situation similar to what Prestolite faced before deploying SmartForecasts to be sure to include as many of the stakeholders as necessary in the process of discovering the right software solution. "You really have to get everyone involved so everyone has responsibility," he suggests. "Then finger-pointing stops and the forecast becomes a company-owned forecast. You have to prove how the software can help and be patient as the process develops. Be flexible at meetings, listen to everyone's inputs and concerns, and factor these into how you develop the process. Let other departments understand that you need them to make this work and be successful because it is something someone in my position cannot do alone. A tremendous benefit in deploying SmartForecasts is that it brought everyone together so if we ran out of something — because no forecast is absolutely perfect — it was no longer a contentious affair. It was 'we' as a group missed something, and what can we do together to do better next time."

 

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