It's not only hip to be square. It could be more efficient.
Mercedes-Benz U.S. International Inc. will abandon a 500,000-square-foot warehouse near its Vance, Ala., plant in favor of another building about the same size.
The change will allow Mercedes to comply with parent company DaimlerChrysler AG's new best practices for warehouse design.
The current warehouse is rectangular. The new building will be square.
Company spokeswoman Felyicia Jerald says the design will allow Mercedes-Benz to move dealer service parts in and out more efficiently than its warehouse in Bessemer, Ala.
Bessemer is about 40 miles from Vance.
The new warehouse also will serve a different role.
Mercedes opened the Bessemer warehouse five years ago as a staging center for parts exports.
At that time, the Vance factory began shipping M-class parts to Graz, Austria, where Steyr-Daimler-Puch assembled them into SUVs for Europe.
The export operation ended in 2002. Since that time, Mercedes has had little need for outside warehousing.
But that is about to change, because Mercedes soon will have more parts to monitor.
The Vance plant uses about 5,700 parts for M-class production.
Starting next year, with a $600 million expansion to launch a redesigned M class and a second product, the new Grand Sports Tourer, Vance will have to track more than 15,000 parts.
The company concluded that renovating the Bessemer warehouse to meet the new DaimlerChrysler specs was not feasible.
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