Electronic Parts Catalog Might Head to U.S. Ford Dealerships

Already in use within two other Ford divisions, Enigma's parts cataloging and tracking system could appear in North American dealerships next.

Following implementations in the Volvo Car and European divisions of Ford Motor Company, Enigma Inc. is now in talks about possible deployment of its electronics part catalog, tracking and maintenance environment throughout Ford North Americas extensive dealer supply chain in the US and Canada.

Announced this week, Ford of Europes implementation, known as "FordEcat," has already been deployed among 65 percent of the divisions dealers in more than 42 European and Middle Eastern nations, said John Snow, Enigmas vice president of marketing and business development, in an interview.

Ford of Europe is using the system, built on Enigmas 3C platform, for Web- and CD/DVD-based cataloging and tracking of parts used in servicing the divisions 45 different car models.

But prior to the Ford of Europe rollout, he said, Fords Volvo division used Enigmas 3C to create its own system, for use by dealerships in both Europe and North America.

Volvos lineup of cars and auto parts isnt as broad as that of Ford of Europe.

Yet beyond parts cataloging and tracking, Volvos system is particularly attuned to maintenance, according to Snow.

Snow said he isnt sure yet where Enigmas current discussions with Ford North America will lead.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read more about the U.S. Army field testing Enigma Inc.s 3C software with some of its armored vehicles.

"We hope to be making an announcement soon. But if Ford North America does use [3C], their system will not be the same as Ford of Europes," according to the Enigma vice president.

Enigmas 3C is designed to make it possible to bring together thousands of parts records, technical illustrations and annotations into a quickly searchable online encyclopedia.

The technology helps auto makers to optimize their supply chains by providing much greater control over parts inventory and demand forecasting, said Kevin Mixer, an automotive industry analyst at AMR Research, in another interview.

"It also allows a more consistent approach to parts distribution and repair procedures, while providing better data consistency for dealers in the retail space," according to the analyst.

Now being tested by the U.S. Army, Enigmas technology is also in production use among a number of other large enterprises, mainly in the automotive and airline industries.

"Enigmas growth has been quiet," Mixer said. "But dont be at all surprised if Enigma soon comes to a Ford dealership near you."

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