Expanding PDC footprint helping Daimler slash downtime, improve customer experience

Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) took another key step forward in maximizing the efficiency of its Aftermarket and dealer channel operations this week with the formal opening of a new 245,000 sq.-ft. parts distribution center in Grimes, Iowa.

The new location, the ninth in Daimler’s PDC network, will now allow the company to deliver parts to 80 percent of its dealer locations in 12 hours or less, a massive step forward for DTNA in its endless quest to reduce downtime. Additionally, with another PDC set to open and push the company’s 12-hour delivery window to more than 90 percent later this year, Stefan Kurschner, senior vice president, Aftermarket, says DTNA is now on the cusp of reaching an average service event time goal five years in the making.

After shooting for 72-hour service turnarounds in 2013, Kurschner says DTNA hopes to average less than 12 hours for service events in the coming years.

“We started with the 72-hour goal [in 2013] and at the time, it was useful because it got our entire network signed up for one goal,” says Kurschner. “But quickly we knew 72 hours was not good enough; 72 hours is an eternity.”

In today’s driver landscape, Kurschner says DTNA estimates any truck sitting more than 24 hours for a repair will eventually “cost the carrier the driver,” as he will lose patience waiting for the truck and move on to another carrier with faster turnaround times. Great technicians and quality shop management can do a lot to move a dealer service department closer to that number, but when it comes to truly turning heads and wowing drivers with repair times, “you have to have the parts,” says Jay Johnson, general manager of Aftermarket Supply Chain at DTNA.

“If you can’t get the part it doesn’t matter how good the rest of the shop is,” says Johnson. “The customer will have to wait.”

As such, Johnson says DTNA has been working to update and expand its aftermarket supply chain since the instant the 72-hour window was first introduced. “Before we started doing this our average delivery time was measured in days,” he says.

The results have been astonishing. In addition to its impressive 80 percent delivery rate in 12 hours statistic, DTNA also is now delivering nearly three quarters of orders via dedicated delivery service (DDS) routes, which the company introduced earlier this decade to replace less efficient LTL carriers. Johnson says these routes now allow DTNA dealers to submit stock orders as late as 4 p.m. in some regions of North America and have those parts packed on a truck by 10:30 p.m., and at the dealer’s facility before the sun comes up.

When coupled with the product and technical expertise of DTNA’s dealer channel and its service locations, Kurschner says that fulfillment performance is something not even the nation’s most popular, and disruptive, distributor can challenge.

“From order to delivery in 12 hours, and you don’t even need a membership,” he says.

And the changes to DTNA’s supply chain represent just a fraction of the company’s overall initiatives built around customer satisfaction and uptime. Between a dealer meeting last month and a tour of dealer facilities this week, Kurschner and Richard Howard, DTNA’s senior vice president, Sales & Marketing, have dedicated most of their recent work to identifying and developing other Aftermarket and dealer channel solutions that will allow the business to further assist customers throughout their ownership experience.

Exceptional new truck sales may be getting headlines in the OEM world this year, but in cyclical sales market such as trucking, breaking this year’s sales records during the industry’s next boom requires a premium customer experience at all times.

“While our product will always be at the forefront of what we do,” Howard says, “we believe our customer experience should be even better than our product performance.”

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