Improving service and profitability (2)

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Caterpillar’s arrangement with MG Rover goes much further than the handling of parts distribution. The global logistics service provider is responsible for all parts sales and marketing and global support for MG Rover’s network of nearly 1,500 dealers worldwide. It also controls purchasing from 800-plus separate parts suppliers, including supplier development, demand prediction and all accounting functions.

While the physical scale of the operation needed to centralise MG Rover’s parts business at Desford is awe-inspiring – laid end to end, the trucks used to move the parts would stretch for 25 miles – it is operational best practice that holds the key to the smooth transition and reliable operation of the facility.

Desford’s progressive management culture has seen all associates involved at all stages of the design and implementation of the move. Continuous improvement – within the framework of Caterpillar’s global 6 Sigma quality programme – is at the core of all activities.

“In modern, agile, high-efficiency logistics operations like this, the skills of your personnel are every bit as important as the management software and the physical design of the facility,” says John Stephenson (pictured), general manager of Caterpillar Logistics in the UK.

The MG Rover operation at Desford joins Caterpillar Logistics’ extensive UK distribution facilities for Land Rover, and AGCO as well as its own manufacturing logistics at the same site. “With well over £100M in auto parts held in our warehouses, all managed using our proprietary software systems, and service levels now at their highest levels ever, Caterpillar Logistics is fast becoming the most comprehensive and effective provider of automotive service parts logistics in the UK, not just for MG Rover but for all makes of car,” concludes Stephenson. n

SSI Schaefer is one of several storage solutions providers that is participating at Logistics Link 2004, being held on February 3 and 4, 2004 at Sandown Park, Esher, Surrey. For further information contact Richard Milbourn on 0208 661 1160 or visit

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