FROM NECESSITY TO SHOWCASE
MOPAR (MOtor PARts) is the customer care end of the Fiat Chrysler organisation.
Just five years ago, with its survival in doubt, Chrysler, maker of Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, RAM and SRT brands, sought a loan from the US government and protection from bankruptcy courts, then formed an alliance with Italy’s Fiat, which ultimately assumed control of the automaker.
Before Fiat stepped in, Chrysler was owned by Germany’s Daimler, which ran Chrysler’s international spare parts operation. With Daimler out and Fiat in, the need for a new network of parts distribution centers was urgent. Chrysler turned to Agility to establish a warehouse and systems to serve its dealer-distributors in nearly 40 countries in the Middle East, Africa and the CIS region. The MOPAR Dubai distribution center, owned and operated by Agility, opened in November 2011 and was serving the entire Middle East region by the following January. Today, Fiat Chrysler considers MOPAR Dubai a showcase.
“It was during the global recession, and we had a very short time frame to build the entire spare parts logistics operation from scratch. We had to close old warehouses and open new ones around the world,” says Dr. Igor Egorov, director of Supply Chain Management for Fiat Chrysler Middle East.
Today, the operation is a success. “We’ve never experienced growth like we’ve seen over the past three years. We were building something from nothing, and at the same time we’ve had to cope with rapid growth. We’ve been fortunate to find the right partner and to grow together,” Egorov says.
Chrysler used “MOtor” and “PARts” to create the MOPAR name, well known to “gear-heads” and automotive enthusiasts in the United States for 75 years. These days, the Dubai warehouse is expanding beyond its strong GCC presence to serve a new market nearly every two weeks.
“Africa and the CIS require special attention because there are multiple customs requirements from the governments,” Egorov says. “It’s a moving target because the regulations are getting more complicated.”
There are more challenges ahead. Fiat wants to expand in the Middle East and will need a spare parts operation to support Fiat and Alfa Romeo sales in the region. In addition, Fiat Chrysler has announced plans to transform the Jeep Renegade, made in Italy, into its first truly global product and using European suppliers for components.
Adding Fiat parts to the Dubai facility could prove especially difficult because MOPAR relies on a unique “home base” methodology for warehouse layout and workflow. Fiat uses a different method. Egorov says he is confident MOPAR, which will now handle after-sales services for all corporate brands, can manage the challenge.
“This only works when the customer and supplier work really well as a team. It’s not just, ‘Here’s my paperwork, I’ll be back to see what you’ve done.’ The entire logistics center, the racks and equipment here were built according to the plan we put together with Agility. And improvements happen every day.”
Fiat Chrysler’s 18,000 square meter Dubai warehouse, owned and operated by Agility, was configured based on Chrysler MOPAR’s unique “home base” methodology. Shelving, racking and cantilevers were installed to meet MOPAR’s requirements. Parts storage was laid out according to MOPAR’s specifications. The Warehouse Management System was developed to work with MOPAR’s system to generate realtime updates on movement of stock.
Agility and Fiat Chrysler teams work together on site. Most current stock is US manufactured, so Agility manages pickup at the Jebel Ali Free Zone or at Dubai International Airport and handles customs clearance and haulage to the temperature-controlled warehouse.
The warehouse handles 35,000 SKUs and serves the company’s authorized national dealer-distributors in the Middle East, Africa and CIS countries, including major Chrysler markets such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Egypt. Agility is responsible for receiving, storing, and inventory management. It prepares outbound orders and handles freight management, typically shipping by road to GCC countries, by air to Africa and by ocean to other destinations.
Fueled by MOPAR’s growth in the MEA region, today’s operation occupies three times more space than originally envisioned A successful wall-to-wall audit in 2013 “validated the success, dedication and professionalism of the MOPAR Dubai operation,” Egorov says.