Fiat Group Automobiles South Africa is on track to providing the best parts service by an O.E.M. (Original Equipment Manufacturer) in this country. A tall order indeed, but it’s one Giorgio Gorelli, Managing Director of Fiat Group Automobiles SA, is confident the company is already achieving: “Every single point at which we as Fiat interface with our customers, needs to be excellent, whether that be at dealership-, customer service- or parts supply level.
The brand new parts logistics and management system, was borne out of that very need – to provide our customers with a world-class service and we’re now delivering just that.”
UTi and Fiat – the perfect parts partnership
Fiat’s previous parts distribution management channel was terminated last August and a whole new world of parts availability was conceived. Driving this brand-new parts initiative is Alvaro Mondin – he was seconded from Fiat’s ultra-successful Brazilian operation (they ‘enjoy’ more than 25% market share) to head up Fiat South Africa’s Customer Services division. Mondin immediately identified the need for outsourcing in the restructuring of the overall business of parts supply.
UTi was selected from a number of candidates as the supplier of choice primarily because they specialise in logistics and parts distribution. At the very heart of this whole new operation is the state-of-the-art Parts Warehouse and Distribution Centre based at Blue IQ Supplier Park in Rosslyn, Pretoria.
Mondin notes: “By bringing UTi on board, we have been able to achieve a degree of control and specialisation previously unheard of in the parts business.” The Deputy Director for Fiat Parts and Accessories, Theunis Eloff, concurs: “With UTi’s expertise in the field of logistics, we could focus on eight segregated duties or pillars of strength that would help spearhead our new parts programme.”
The 8 pillars of strength that define Fiat’s new Parts Programme
- Customers’ needs. Thanks to the new web-based (internet) parts platform, dealers now have access to the most efficient global parts referencing system with updates received automatically. Gone are the days of flimsy micro-fish, or even outdated CDs (DVDs are used as back-up only).
- Vin-based security. Whenever a part is ordered, it’s linked to a specific VIN number which ensures that only the parts for that vehicle will be available in the parts basket, making the system virtually fool-proof.
- Stock availability. Fiat currently has a parts stockholding of some R65 million with an average of 97% of all spares available. The 3% that need to be ordered via air-freight, take on average, no longer than nine working days to be delivered. When/if something goes wrong, a one-to-one approach is adopted to solve the problem.
- Professional people. UTi only employs skilled, fully literate individuals to avoid parts confusions when both picking and packing takes place. Frikkie Botes, Warehouse Manager, has a high-powered team of 45 people inside the parts’ hall operating road freight, air-freight and flash courier service networks.
- The new operation features personal accountability on picking, packing and sending the right part on every single order. Botes and his team worked ’24/7′ to move the parts operation from another warehouse site late last year and their performance since then has remained high as nationally dealers receive overnight parts feed on their orders. Another plus is that UTi operate a special flexible labour force system that enables the company to increase staff when things get busy.
- Delivery. There are two aspects to this: i) the flexibility of the delivery process and ii) the fleet. With reference to the latter, Fiat’s parts operation has access to over 4000 delivery vehicles at any given time thanks to the UTi collaboration. The result is 97,9% delivery on time and in the case of V.O.R. (parts destined for Vehicles Off Road i.e. critical cases) the delivery rate is 100%.
- Tracking. Because this is web-based (live), a dealer can at any time track his delivery i.e. he can see exactly where it is – whether that be the logistics hub, the consolidation center etc. All P.O.D.s (proof of deliveries) are scanned and inserted on the computer mainframe to make the system even more transparent and failsafe.
- Consumer recognition. To ensure that parts reach the correct end user, there is another check that is built into the system and that is the insertion of an internal reference for all V.O.R orders. So, in addition to the tracking number, each delivery has a consumer reference number such as “Ducato Mike 1”. This means that when the part reaches the dealer, there is always a customer indicator.
- Dealer support. In addition to the electronic monitors Fiat has employed dedicated parts liaison agents whose sole purpose it is to attend to any parts queries. They are the link between Fiat’s Head Office and the dealer network.
- Mondin is confident that the Fiat Group now has all the answers to parts supply: “It’s an area of the brand that we operate with great focus to keep customer retention levels where they must remain – at the very top of this business.”
If you have any queries relating to Fiat or Alfa Romeo parts, please contact Fiat/Alfa Romeo Customer Care on (011) 205-3700.