BURTON, Mich. — Seeking to increase the speed and efficiency with which it delivers service parts to its 4,100 North American dealerships, General Motors Co. has opened a parts processing center in Burton that is three times the size of the facility it replaced.
The first shipment of parts left the 1.1 million-sq.-ft. center near Flint, Mich., in late June, almost exactly a year after excavators removed the first shovel of dirt for the project. GM said the center's 800 employees will be able to work more efficiently packing and shipping parts not just for the auto maker's own brands, but also for competitive makes of vehicles that GM dealers often service.
"A big part of that equation is getting high-quality parts into the hands of trained service technicians when and where they need them," Tim Turvey, GM's vice president of customer care and aftersales, said during the official opening of the center in August.
The United Autoworkers union strike against GM disrupted activities at the new distribution center, contributing to parts shortages at many dealerships. That lack of parts delayed warranty work and customer-pay repairs and curbed parts sales, according to dealership fixed-operations directors, reducing fixed-ops profits and customer satisfaction. In response, some GM dealerships sought to obtain repair parts and loaner vehicles for service customers from other providers.
Mr. Turvey told Fixed Ops Journal that the new parts warehouse, at full operation, will help GM improve its fill rate — a measurement of the parts that auto makers have on hand and can ship to dealers immediately — without back orders or other delays. Fill rate is a key metric of the efficiency of parts operations.
Under GM's parts distribution system, the facility usually won't ship components directly to dealerships. Instead, the parts that leave the center will go first to what GM calls "facing parts distribution centers" — a dozen regional facilities that serve dealerships in their local markets.
But in isolated instances, Mr. Turvey noted, if a dealership needs a part that one of the regional centers can't supply, the Burton facility will ship it directly.
GM spent $65 million to build the parts processing center, which has 84 shipping and receiving docks, compared with 35 in the facility it replaced. The center is expected to handle 120 million parts each year, represented by about 147,000 part numbers.