Freightliner LLC is deploying a new supply chain management tool to help dealers provide even greater parts availability for customers. The company is rolling out the new Managed Dealer Inventory (MDI) system to Freightliner, Sterling, Western Star, Thomas Built Buses, Freightliner Custom Chassis and American LaFrance dealers across North America."Dealers for each of the brands within the Freightliner Group are known for their superior parts availability and customer support," said Chris Patterson, Senior Vice President, Service & Parts, Freightliner LLC. "Now we're taking it to the next level with our new Managed Dealer Inventory system." The new Managed Dealer Inventory system utilizes service parts and demand planning modules developed by i2 Technologies Inc. of Dallas, Texas, a leading provider of value chain solutions. The modules are configured to meet the unique demands of Freightliner LLC's parts business, and are designed to gauge dealer parts requirements and automatically replenish parts stocks. The system works by utilizing advanced forecasting techniques to predict customer demand and track dealer inventory levels of each part. When supply of a specific part reaches a level where new stock is needed, the system issues replenishment orders to purchase parts. Once dealer management approves the purchase order, Freightliner's parts distribution centers ship the components to dealers. The Managed Dealer Inventory system ensures that critical parts, such as brake components and alternators, are always in stock. Fast-moving parts, such as wiper blades and wheels, will be on hand when customers need them. The system also factors in the effects of seasonality on demand for parts like air conditioning components and tire chains. "The Managed Dealer Inventory system also directly benefits dealers by ensuring that they have the right amount of parts on hand for every model without having capital tied up in excess inventory," Patterson said.The new Managed Dealer Inventory system offers robust forecasting, monitoring, tracking, fulfillment and communications features. Major component suppliers also will be integrated into the system. The new parts system is now being piloted with selected dealers. Full roll-out to U.S. and Canadian dealers will begin in January 2003.