LOS ANGELES -- Nissan dealerships in the Baltimore area are praising a new distribution system that delivers commonly used parts no later than the morning after they are ordered.
Currently, most U.S. Nissan stores receive parts no sooner than the next evening or even the morning of the third day.
Under the new system, Sheehy Nissan in Glen Burnie, Md., gets some parts the same day they are ordered.
"Getting them earlier makes a lot of difference," said Dennis Hawn, the dealership's parts manager. "So far I have no complaints at all."
Sheehy Nissan and other area dealerships are the beneficiaries of a speed parts distribution center that opened Feb. 2 in Baltimore. Bill Bosley, vice president of parts and service for Nissan North America Inc., said the system will be nationwide in two years but did not say how many centers will be opened or which ones will come next.
The centers will stock fast-moving parts ordered by dealers and act as satellites of regional distribution centers. Nissan is pairing its Baltimore center with its regional center in New Jersey, which will house both fast- and slow-moving parts and replenish orders to the speed center each evening.
Nissan has eight U.S. regional parts distribution centers. Under the new system, Nissan probably will operate fewer regional centers and have several speed centers work with each one, Bosley said.
The idea is to have more parts depots closer to and serving fewer dealers and meet the next-morning deadline for commonly used parts.
The new system also aims to reduce the number of parts orders that dealers must place with distribution centers outside their region, Bosley said. Such orders, he said, can take four or five days to fill.
Currently, a Nissan dealer's closest regional center fills 90 percent to 91 percent of parts orders, Bosley said.
The company's goal, he said, is to reach the 93 percent rate of "world-class" competitors. "Two percentage points in 'fill rate' is huge," he added.
The new system was born out of increased sales volume, Bosley said. "We watched other manufacturers with sales growth who were not quite ready on the service side."
Nissan North America, parent company of the Nissan and Infiniti divisions in North America, recorded a U.S. sales increase of 7.4 percent last year.
Joe Ivers, executive director of quality and customer satisfaction for J.D. Power and Associates, said slow delivery of replacement parts can annoy consumers if the work isn't done or isn't done right because of parts availability.
"Sometimes," Ivers said, "that's just the excuse that's given."