FORD ENTERS NEW PHASE
Ford has finally cut its ties with its manufacturing past in New Zealand by moving its parts distribution centre from Wiri, near Auckland Airport in South Auckland, and where Ford cars used to be built, to a brand-new purpose-built warehouse in Highbrook Business Park, East Tamaki, Auckland, just a short walk from its headquarters building.
The move cuts a 50-year link with Wiri, but it means that Ford has been able to apply its latest parts distribution technologies in the new warehouse, while providing its staff with a better and safer working environment.
At the same time the new warehouse, with its massive almost 10-metre high stacks, is geared to be able to support as many as a million parts, while maintaining Ford New Zealand’s ability to process same-day orders for courier shipment throughout New Zealand. The new stacks are twice as high as the ones in the old parts facility.
The new National Parts Distribution Centre is equipped with an all new storage system aligned to Ford’s global warehousing principles, providing enhanced warehouse optimisation to support wider stock holdings in New Zealand, and improved parts flow within the operation. Ford expects this operation to deliver significant gains to supply fill rates and faster replenishment for the 32-strong dealer network and its full complement of more than 50 sites.
Of particular interest is that the custom-designed Crown parts forklifts that service the giant stacks are designed to automatically follow a preset flow, guided by wires set into the concrete, so there can be no danger of collisions. At the same time a computer-generated card ensures the parts are picked in the right order so there is no wasted time.
Corey Holter, managing director Ford New Zealand, said the new building is a significant long-term investment to support Ford’s expanding vehicle range, but also has the Ford customer in mind.
“The new National Parts Distribution Centre is a big step forward to better support our growth objectives, help us better service our dealers, and ultimately help improve the Ford customer experience at our service centres,” said Holter.
“With better access, more storage capacity and upgraded equipment, the first major part of our local supply chain has been greatly improved and we will be able to get parts to our customers more efficiently and with less waiting.”
The Ford project team has also focused on improving safety for its employees within the operation and has completely replaced its entire materials handling equipment fleet, which comes fully equipped with a fleet management system called Infolink.
Infolink is a wireless fleet management system developed and manufactured by the Crown Equipment Corporation which enables Ford’s management to collate real time data capturing equipment impacts, productivity, utilisation, energy and servicing requirements, whilst also restricting access to compliant operators only.
InfoLink connects the machinery to a central system. The staff need to log onto the equipment to use it (ensuring trained staff use the equipment), and the equipment itself is connected to provide constant use monitoring. Also, for example, it records and monitors for any potential safety incidents. And if something occurs, the machine immediately shuts down until the incident is investigated or remedied.
With an improved entrance for trucks and an extended canopy, the new building will also provide better access and protection for deliveries in all weather.
Joining the Ford New Zealand team for the opening were visiting Ford executives Graeme Whickman (Ford Australia and New Zealand CEO) and John Cooper (Ford Vice President Customer Service Asia Pacific) as well as Chief Executive Officer of Goodman in New Zealand, John Dakin.
“We are investing heavily on stylish, innovative new vehicles that customer fall in love with and stay in love with through exceptional service,” said Graeme Whickman.
“I know from my time in New Zealand that Kiwis are very discerning so we are excited to offer them a better experience when they bring vehicles to our dealerships.”
Graeme began his Ford career at Ford New Zealand in 1997 as a dealer operations manager and later moved to marketing director from 2002 to 2005. He grew up in the UK and New Zealand, and obtained a Bachelor of Business in Marketing from Auckland University of Technology in 1998.
Currently the warehouse is stocked with around 750,000 parts servicing 20,000 lines. The staff who work there have been employed in Ford’s parts distribution warehouse for an average of 23 years each, with five staff members having worked there for more than 30 years, and three for more than 40 years.
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Overview Ford NZ staff at the new parts facility in East Takai, Auckland.
Graeme Whickman, Ford Australia and New Zealand CEO