April 2014 | Case Studies | Reader Profile

Bob Kalland Knows the Drill

Tags: Inventory Management, Education & Careers, Manufacturing

Bob Kalland, inventory and logistics manager, Atlas Copco Mining and Rock Excavation

Bob Kalland is inventory and logistics manager for Atlas Copco Mining and Rock (MR) Excavation, located in Commerce City, Colo. The company is a unit of Atlas Copco, a Swedish manufacturer of industrial tooling and equipment. He has held this position since 2011.

Responsibilities: Managing all inventory and logistics for the MR business.

Experience: Inventory cycle counter, warehouse supervisor, inventory control supervisor, Weidercare Sporting Goods; inventory control supervisor, Fisher Scientific; inventory and logistics coordinator, Rock Drilling Tools (RDT) product line, Atlas Copco.

Education: BS in management science, emphasis on production and operations management, Virginia Tech, 1994.


My work in Atlas Copco's Mining and Rock (MR) Excavation business covers three product lines: geotechnical drilling and exploration; rock drilling tools and mining; and rock excavation products and services. My team maintains the inventory for those products, including capital equipment, consumables, and service parts.

We order those products from Atlas Copco's distribution centers and production facilities—known as product companies (PCs)—in the United States and abroad. We use inbound product to fill customer orders, maintain inventory for service operations, and stock our network of 14 U.S. warehouses.

My team at the U.S. customer center is also responsible for transportation within the United States. The PCs arrange international freight, but we provide input to help them make sound decisions when working with our freight forwarders.

We use two information systems to support inventory management. Supply Chain Concept from technology provider Syncron handles forecasting, order levels, lead times, fixed order quantities, and other inventory concerns. The system uses data from our enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, Infor's Business Planning and Control System (BPCS), to generate purchase recommendations based on factors such as current stock levels, estimated demand per month, and lead times.

Because we make a lot of product outside the United States, lead times pose a critical concern. To maintain inventory at the correct levels, we must make sure our systems contain accurate data on lead times for all products.

If we were to keep all parts, consumables, and machines in stock at all times, we would have 100-percent product availability. But carrying costs and the risk of obsolescence would increase drastically. Maintaining balance between working capital and customer service is our largest challenge.

Another challenge we're preparing to tackle is migrating our customer center operations from BPCS to an ERP solution from SAP. Our Canadian counterparts in the MR business are serving as a test site for this implementation, planning to take the system live in early 2015. We're still working on details for the rollout to the other three major customer centers—the United States, Australia, and South Africa.

Currently, U.S. team members—along with our colleagues from South Africa and Australia—are working with the Canada team to ensure the new system will fit the business processes in each country. We all spent two weeks in Canada in February 2013 identifying and addressing gaps in the solution blueprint to ensure the system meets our requirements. I also have a daily conference call with the owners of this project in Belgium.

Atlas Copco has already implemented SAP in some European countries such as Switzerland and Germany, where its operations are smaller. Now it is addressing the large customer centers that represent the majority of the company's revenue. This will be a big project, and I'm looking forward to the challenge.

The Big Questions

When you're not at work, what do you do for fun?

Fly fishing is my true passion. It lets me rejuvenate and recharge, and, at the same time, experience an adrenaline rush fighting and landing a 20-inch trout.

Who have been your mentors at work?

Gene Mattila (business line manager, RDT) and Ed Tanner (vice president of store operations for MR). Both have taught me how to be a more confident leader and handle personnel issues. They have also helped me understand how the business is managed, and what end customers expect from us.

What's your alter-ego dream job?

I'd own an outfitting business—snow skiing in the winter, and fly fishing and rafting in the summer.

Do you have a hidden talent?

I tie my own fishing flies.