Comprehensive Logistics has assembly capabilities that put it in a league of its own.
By Chris Kelsch
To refer to Comprehensive Logistics as a logistics company would be to dramatically undersell an impressive range of capabilities. A fourth-generation, family-owned operation, Comprehensive Logistics was incorporated in 1995 as an independent entity to focus on original equipment manufacturers (OEM) logistics outsourcing, mostly in the automotive industry.
All of that changed, however, in 2010. That’s when Comprehensive signed its first value-added sub-assembly contract with a major U.S. automotive OEM. “We had focused on transportation since 1995,” notes Vice President of Operations and Quality Jeff Peters. “Then one of the OEMs we were working for said ‘Hey, can you warehouse these parts and meter them into our facility?’”
The answer was of course a resounding “yes!” and Comprehensive Logistics has continued to grow in size and capability ever since. Currently, it serves two of North America’s largest automotive OEMs, while also supplying services to Tier I automotive suppliers and select Fortune 500 OEMs. “OEMs want more value-added service,” Peters notes. “So we continue to focus on just-in-time (JIT) delivery, but we also add a great deal of value with the actual assembly of parts into made-to-order sub-assemblies that ship in exact sequence for the final assembly line builds.”
It can be mind-boggling to consider how many parts go into manufacturing a car. Numbering well into the thousands, these parts have to be delivered and assembled in the right sequence. Comprehensive Logistics provides that service, operating numerous facilities throughout the United States that are all within 10 miles of OEM production facilities. Currently, Comprehensive operates more than 4 million square feet of value-added warehouse and sub-assembly space. “Most of our sites are within five miles of the OEM facility,” Peters explains. “Transportation time is a huge part of the equation.”
Comprehensive’s job is to feed parts to exact positions on assembly lines. It receives, consolidates and deconsolidates parts from suppliers and prepares them for JIT delivery to the plant. “We do small-parts picking,” Peters explains. “In some cases we end up touching 80 percent of the vehicle parts.” Not only does Comprehensive execute intricate assemblies, it does so within tight delivery windows, often completing jobs within four to six hours, with upwards of 60 jobs an hour.
Quality On Time
As with the OEMs themselves, Comprehensive has come to develop rigorous quality standards that not only define its assembly capabilities, but its JIT delivery capabilities. And it has done so by perfecting its processes including its own in-house software. Known as STREME, it is a web-based warehouse management software (WMS) and order management system.
“Our software really puts us head and shoulders above everyone else,” Peters says. “It was developed by our in-house IT staff.”
The software is well liked by Comprehensive’s OEM customers as well, due to its transparency. Typically, parts that are processed by Comprehensive are ordered and owned by the OEM. The OEM typically provides Comprehensive with electronic data files on each part it requires. Comprehensive then creates a detailed plan for the handling of each part based on its dimensions, weight, origins and where on the assembly line it is needed. This information is then uploaded to STREME, and processes are designed around each incoming part.
The process is known as “a plan for every part” (PFEP) and the results have been off-the-charts successful for manufacturers and Comprehensive Logistics. “One of our claims to fame has been our quality results,” Peters explains. “In terms of defects, we are down to between six or seven parts per million, which is world-class.”
Not only are defects way down, but the software provides Comprehensive with enormous flexibility. “We can very rapidly modify our software to accommodate our quality control requirements,” Peters explains. “And because of our process visibility and flexibility, it is well liked by our OEM customers.”
Primed For Growth
Because Comprehensive Logistics has developed such a successful model, the next natural step is to apply it to other industries outside of the automotive sphere. “We do continue to seek out other customers,” Peters notes. “With this model, it is easily applicable to other industries such as electronics, aerospace and durable goods manufacturing.”
While looking for growth in other industries, there are still plenty of opportunities within its own customer base. Because OEMs have become more digitized, it is a fairly simple process to expand and open up a new Comprehensive facility as its OEM customers expand and open up their own facilities by letting us manage support warehousing and subassembly operations.
“We have very talented launch teams,” Peter notes. “We have launched many plants throughout the years, and with our experience and expertise, we are able to get a facility up and running in just a few months.
“It’s a solid business model,” he continues. “We already have the systems and processes well-documented, and in starting a new operation, we don’t have to build anything from the ground up.”
With tried-and-true methods, like PFEP engineering, and a strong and increasingly diverse customer base, Comprehensive has been able to position itself well enough to weather economic volatility. And with new customers, the results should stay the same. “We are delivering quality on time, every time,” Peters says.