When FedEx Freight received an invitation from the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) to help develop new Recommended Practices (RP) for parts purchasing and inventory management, the company happily answered the call. If you've developed a system to efficiently distribute parts for over 9,500...
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"The most important thing I see is that you've got to have accurate charging of parts out," he continues. "If you've got techs who are not charging out parts to the unit, that throws off everything. The computer only tracks what it's told, so if it thinks that particular part has not been used, it won't reorder it. It's gone! You get another one in here with the same problem, you don't have the part for it. So the system is great, but the techs have got to be diligent about charging out their parts. If that works, the rest of it's smooth sailing."
FedEx Freight's challenge is to allow individual locations enough autonomy and flexibility to meet their own unique needs, while still maintaining nationwide standards, and purchasing strength. The company has already achieved a 93 percent on-time availability level, and Billings knows that to go the last seven percent, FedEx Freight is counting on its vendors.
"You could look at a forklift part that you bought from a particular manufacturer," he says. "He may not have a national program, where all the dealers would provide the part, or provide it at a negotiated price."
"We're addressing what is available out there, and it seems that the small percentage that we don't have available at locations is needed industry-wide," he explains. "It's a program that has not been developed yet; a vendor doesn't specifically offer."
Until vendors do offer such a program, FedEx Freight will continue to improve its parts purchasing and inventory systems with the help of the company's own in-house expertise.
"We listen to all of our people," Billings says. "In my opinion, those people out there on the floor are our experts. They aren't only our associates, they're also my customers, and we have to listen to our customers. So I listen to their needs, and their input is greatly appreciated in developing a process that improves for everyone."