In early February, members of AGCO’s senior North American management team made the trip to Woodstock, Ontario, for yet another of that company’s ribbon cutting ceremonies. And there have been quite a few in the past couple of years, as the brand makes some concrete moves toward improving its manufacturing and parts distribution infrastructure.
The new Woodstock parts distribution centre was made a full-parts-stocking facility, which means it will house 40 per cent more inventory (worth about $7 million) than the old Kitchener, Ontario, warehouse that previously serviced Eastern Canada.
About four years ago, then-Grainews-editor Lyndsey Smith and I were in Regina to see the ribbon cut on Western Canada’s parts distribution centre when it was upgraded. We were assured back then that there would be more ribbon cuttings and improvements in the company’s facilities, and there certainly have been.
The Woodstock event actually marks the fourth North American parts distribution centre upgrade for AGCO since 2010. Aside from these warehouse improvements, the company expanded its tractor and sprayer manufacturing plant in Jackson, Minnesota, in 2012, cutting a ribbon there. Last year, it opened an expanded paint facility at the combine factory in Hesston, Kansas, shredding yet another ribbon as cameras flashed.
The parts warehouse improvements have greatly increased AGCO’s ability to supply parts in short order. Just as the update in Regina did, the Woodstock facility will reduce parts delivery times by two or three days and improve next-day delivery of all in-stock parts. It can even accomodate parts pick ups by customers.
AGCO has thrown some technology into the mix as well. The digital Warehouse Management System is also expected to help streamline the delivery process. “The new WMS is a wireless warehouse system that allows us to better track parts through the building from initial pickup assignments right through to carton packing,” said Scott Ward, director of supply chain and customer service.
The Woodstock facility is also home to a new dealer training center—the first of its kind for AGCO. Dealers can attend hands-on training sessions about a variety of AGCO equipment, precision agriculture technology, technical service, parts and agriculture equipment theory. “The goal of the training center is to ensure dealers are fully up to speed in all relevant areas,” said Mark Brungardt, manager, Technical Training. “With access to hands-on training, our dealers will be better equipped to provide a superior customer experience.”
“Over the past several years, the Parts Division has continued to focus on quality and continuously improving and delivering on what we set out to do,” said Bob Crain, senior vice president and general manager for AGCO North America. “Specifically, there are three key areas we’ve concentrated on to ensure the best customer experience: service levels, improved parts availability and enhanced distribution. All of these play critical roles for the success of our customers and dealers.”
During a media interview in Woodstock that was broadcast online, Bob Crain said that to go along with the increased manufacturing and parts distribution capacity the company now has, there will be a lot of new product announcements in 2014. With the prominent National Farm Machinery show just beginning in Louisville, Kentucky, this week, some of those announcements are just starting to come out as a few new models debut there.
It will be interesting to watch this 23-year-old brand again this year as it continues to try and gain ground against its competitors.