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Aftermarket eForum Offers the Latest in Aftermarket Supply Chain Technology

So what exactly is supply chain technology, and how can it help your business? Attendees of the fourth annual Aftermarket eForum came in search of answers to these questions, and yesterday, they found answers.

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by Amy Antenora
Managing Editor, aftermarketnews.com

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CHICAGO — So what exactly is supply chain technology, and how can it help your business? Attendees of the fourth annual Aftermarket eForum came in search of answers to these questions, and yesterday, they found answers.

Aftermarket eForum kicked off Monday in Chicago with a two-hour overview of supply chain technology. “A Situational Overview of the State of Technology in the Aftermarket” presented by Scott Luckett of AAIA, Bob Moore of Bob Moore & Partners and Chris Gardner of MEMA’s MIS Council, provided a detailed breakdown of supply chain technology as it relates to the automotive aftermarket.

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Rattling off a myriad of acronyms – PIES, ACES, DAC, XML, EDI – Luckett, Moore and Gardner provided a step-by-step update on the emerging best practices for supply chain technology in the aftermarket. Starting off with simple definitions for terms such as e-commerce versus e-business, the group detailed the initiatives currently in place in the aftermarket and explained the benefits of each.

Utilizing technology to automate business transactions and find new markets, e-commerce and e-business are quickly becoming familiar terms in the business world. In the mature aftermarket industry, now more than ever, many businesses are finding it’s time to try something new – stepping into the heady territory of supply chain technology.

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PIES, or Product Information Exchange Standard, is the industry’s best practice for storage, management and exchange of item attribute data. DAC, or DATA Audit and Certification, is the process by which a business can ensure that its data is clean, or find out what steps are necessary to improve the data. ACES is the AAIA Catalog Enhancement Standard.

During the presentation, Luckett stressed the necessity and value of “bit-perfect” rich, clean data in order to do business effectively, and thus the need for the industry standards such as these. “The dealers’ business is growing and they’re doing it with our help,” Luckett said.

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While the group highlighted the benefits of implementing supply chain technology and the standards mentioned above, they also addressed common barriers such as intimidation at the sheer complexity of such detailed and involved processes. While the PIES standard has some 260 different fields of information, Moore and Luckett pointed out that this is just what’s available. The industry is creating a “super set” of standards based on everyone’s needs, but that does not mean every piece of information is relevant for every business. “You and your trading partners can decide what you need,” Moore assured the crowd. In addition, services such as DAC are meant to simplify the process, by testing and verifying that the information your company has compiled is accurate.

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Once your data is compiled, organized and certified, there are a number of options for transmitting and sharing that information, such as XML or EDI. During the presentation, Gardner focused on communications throughout the supply chain, explaining such systems as Translink and Translink WebDX. Gardner provided an overview of MEMA and AAIA standards for XML and EDI as well.

Wrapping up the overview, Moore provided several suggestions for the future. He recommended working to create a “data culture” in the workplace – one that starts with support ‘from the top.’ He also recommended expunging secretiveness in favor of collaboration. The group took several questions from the audience as well.

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Following the presentation, attendees had the opportunity to network and mingle at a reception sponsored by the Next Generation Club and the Young Executives Society. In addition to cocktails and conversation, attendees got the chance to practice their putting skills for a good cause and possibly win a DVD player in the process. Proceeds from the putting contest went to the Aftermarket Foundation and the YES Scholarship Fund for Northwood University.

Stay tuned…the Aftermarket eForum continues with two full days of presentations and panel discussions and we’ll bring you exclusive highlights, reported live from each day of the event.

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