Freightliner Cascadia EvolutionDaimler Trucks North America (DTNA) is planning to open its tenth parts distribution centre (PDC) in the US at the beginning of next year as it moves toward its goal of providing next-day delivery to more than 90% of its US dealers. The move comes at the same time the truckmaker is advancing digital customer applications and expanding retail services in the region.

The latest PDC will be located near Phoenix, Arizona, with the aim of providing a faster next-day delivery service to dealers and service centres.

“Selecting the Phoenix area as a PDC location was more than just picking a dot on a map,” said Stefan Kurschner, senior vice-president of aftermarket for DTNA. “Parts availability and quickly delivering those parts to dealers, as well as fleets who have their own service shops is crucial to keep the technicians at work and getting vehicles back on the road faster.”

The latest opening follows the centre DTNA opened in Grimes, Iowa in May this year.

Speaking at The Supply Chain Conference in Atlanta this year, Jay Johnson, general manager of aftermarket supply chain at DTNA, said the truckmaker was now focused on making sure its trucks, especially those in the fleet side of the business, were running as much as possible and maintaining vehicle 'uptime' through faster aftersales services.

At the conference, Johnson said that DTNA went through a culture change a few years ago, initiating the 72-hour challenge on truck repair in 2013 because they were taking too long. Repair time is now down to 24 hours. While fleet managers handle the easy maintenance, the overhaul work or repairs to engines or brakes all goes to DTNA’s dealer network.

The company has one of the largest dealer networks across the US, supported by the PDCs and has recently introduced a web-based, mobile-compatible application called Service Tracker, which enables customers to track their service in real time, on demand, according to the company. Customers can get notifications about the repair status of their vehicle, review and approve estimates, and communicate in real time with the service location.

“The flow of accurate and timely information throughout the repair process is essential, and our team wants to use digital tools and available data to cultivate communications,” said Kurschner. “Service Tracker provides customers with real-time information so they can make the best decisions for their truck, driver and load.”

Service Tracker is part of DTNA’s suite of uptime management tools that streamline communications between customers and the dealer network. It has had an 'Elite Support' programme in place for a decade now, designed to narrow the repair-time window to 24 hours. There are now more than 280-certified Elite Support dealers.

“The criteria to become an Elite Support dealer is determined not by the OEM but by the dealers themselves,” said Johnson back in May. “We sit on the board and, looking at the picture before and after, you wonder how the dealerships worked before. Now they are clean and it is the same as any continuous improvement project.”

Over the next few months DTNA said it will launch 15 new product lines from its Alliance Truck Parts division and has new retail locations planned both in terms of dealerships and stand-alone locations. Allliance Truck Parts is the DTNA aftermarket business that supplies new and remanufactured parts and accessories for most major truck makes and models.

Kurschner noted that by 2020, Alliance would launch more than 80 product lines and many new stand-alone retail and dealer stores.