How to Ensure Short Lead Time in Your Automotive Warehouse

an automotive assembly line

Source: Jenson/

Shortening your lead team is a noble goal, but it’s often easier said than done. Automotive suppliers and manufacturers face challenges on a variety of fronts when fulfilling orders and delivering products to their customers. The modern vehicle is made up of tens of thousands of different parts, including computers, sensors and other complex devices, and some can cost thousands of dollars on their own. 

The recent semiconductor shortage is throwing automakers for a loop, raising demand for vehicles around the globe. As the industry continues to evolve, companies should look for ways to shorten their lead time as much as possible so they can outpace the competition and deliver, if not surpass, their customers’ expectations. Use this guide to reduce lead time throughout the manufacturing process.

What Is Short Lead Time?

Lead time refers to the total time it takes to complete a task from start to finish. In the automotive industry, this usually includes moving supplies and materials from place to place, manufacturing goods on a timely basis and delivering finished products to the end user. A short lead time means speeding up the process as much as possible. 

Utilize Industrial Wire Baskets to Shorten Lead Time

a worker using a tablet in an automotive warehouse

Source: Syda Productions/

What Are the Benefits of Having a Short Lead Time? 

The sooner you can gather and assemble your products, the sooner you can deliver them to your customers. This will help you emerge as a leader in your respective market. Companies and individual consumers expect their products to be delivered as quickly as possible. You’ll need to shorten your lead time to stay competitive as industries continue to evolve. 

Having a short lead time also gives you time to complete additional tasks along the way, including value-added services that personalize your products and shipments. You will also have more time for aftermarket alterations and last-minute customizations, which can help you set your products apart from the competition. 

Working with a supplier with a short lead time can benefit your business as well. The sooner you receive the product, the less inventory you have to keep onsite. This reduces the need for storage space, which gives your workers more room to do their jobs. 

How to Shorten Lead Time

There are many ways to shorten your lead time but choosing a solution all depends on the nature of your company. Make sure you know the difference between OEM vs. ODM before adjusting your operations, as some items and suggestions will benefit some facilities more than others.

Use the following tips to get your products out the door at lightning speed:

Increase Product Visibility

With so many products and parts to keep track of, it’s best to increase visibility in the workplace so everyone can find what they need without going out of their way. That’s why many automotive companies use industrial wire baskets to sort and store inventory. 

They come with slats on the sides that let you see inside for accurate, efficient counting and product retrieval. Your workers will be able to grab what they need in a matter of seconds before returning to the loading dock.

This also gives your team the chance to visually inspect items for quality control as they retrieve items throughout the day. If they notice something wrong, they can report it right away.

Use these containers to put misplaced merchandise back on the shelf to keep everything in its place. Look for a container with wheels to avoid having to use a lift truck. 

a close up of racks with small bins for components and small parts

Source: D. Pimborough/

Ensure Short Lead Time with Metal Storage Bins

Match Your Materials

It’s important to store and ship your products in containers made with similar materials. For example, plastic items should be kept in plastic containers, as they are secure enough to protect these goods without weighing down your shipment. However, metal items and goods should be kept in containers made of metal. 

If you put a metal object in a cardboard box or plastic tote, it could damage the container, which puts your inventory at risk. When preparing your goods for transportation, err on the side of caution and use metal storage bins to safely ship your goods to the destination.

Metal Storage Bins for the Win

Every second counts in the automotive industry. Use these tips to keep your inventory safe and secure as it moves through the supply chain.