No matter how dependable your car or truck is, sooner or later you will need some new parts. But where do they come from and how do they get to a dealer?
Important considerations, because the last thing you want to hear is that your car or truck will be in the garage longer than expected due to a lack of needed parts.
Now that is less likely to occur, thanks to a new 400,000 square foot Fiat Chrysler Parts Distribution Center in Winchester, Virginia, that just had its grand opening. A facility that represents a $12.2 million investment by FCA.
From the picture you can see that this is a huge facility, and my feet can testify to that following a tour. How big is big?
It will serve over 200 dealers and process an astounding 9.2 million pieces annually.
Parts arrive from producers at a loading dock near the front of the center, where they get a bar code and then are sorted out with big parts toward the rear of the facility, and smaller parts to the front. They are stacked on shelves right to the ceiling, about 25 feet high.
No fear, they have special equipment to get them down safely and there are articulated sorting carts to cut down on forklift use. They contain special partitions for various parts to make sorting easier and reduce the chance of damage on the way to the loading dock.
A special area is set aside for the parts that are expected to be in big demand.
Dealers submit orders that are processed by more than 70 workers on two shifts who will sort through more than 50,000 total part numbers. Hence, the bar codes!
An unexpected touch was the addition of more than 80 skylights to let in some natural light. FCA said the building is likely to be certified by the United States Green Building Council for its energy saving and environmentally friendly design.
The parts are loaded on to 24 tractor trailers on a daily basis and the semis will travel more than 20 established routes in the Mid-Atlantic region under contract with DHL.
All of this is aimed at reducing any delay in repairing your car when it is in for repairs.
Accessories also make up some of the inventory and to back that up, a mighty mean looking black Jeep Wrangler was displayed near the podium with just about everything one could add to it.
I asked to take it home, but it was spoken for.
“This new Parts Distribution Center builds upon or mission, allow us to more quickly and efficiently serve our dealers and customers, delivering the parts they need when they need them,” said Pietro Gorlier, Head of Parts and Service for FCA.
In short this facility forever changed my idea of what, in essence, a warehouse can be. It was light, bright, safe and employee friendly though the use of modern technology and methods.