SonicAir, a large courier service based in Scottsdale, Ariz., said it has entered a nationwide partnership with a Memphis-based company that specializes in the repair and distribution of high-tech computer components.
The agreement calls for Sonic to store components for Logistics Management Inc. at its 42 parts banks around the country. The banks range in size from 1,000 to 42,000 square feet, according to Ed Kupa, president of Sonic's Field Support Bank division.Logistics Management uses Sonic's delivery personnel to swap a good part for one that is not working properly. The malfunctioning part is then shipped to Logistics Management headquarters for refurbishing. If the work cannot be done there, the part will be shipped via Federal Express Corp. back to the manufacturer.
"It's working out fine. It's faster, and it's less troublesome for the customer," said Marty Harshberger, president of Logistics Management, which has a 200,000-square-foot warehouse and repair center in Memphis.
"If a company called a service engineer every time a certain plug-in, plug-out part needed replacement, costs would soar," Mr. Kupa said.
Logistics Management, founded in 1990, previously used a third-party service company, but it was too expensive, according to Mr. Harshberger. Logistics Management's customers include Chase Manhattan Bank, the National Institutes of Health and Hewlett-Packard Co., the Palo Alto, Calif.-based computer maker.
Since the agreement took effect last month, Sonic personnel have been averaging 28 service calls a day for Logistics Management, according to Mr. Kupa. He said the accord took only 10 days to negotiate.
The two companies hope to expand the service to Canada and Europe by the end of this summer.
Such partnerships are becoming ever more common as manufacturers look for ever-faster ways to deliver high-tech equipment and spare parts to their customers.
In some cases, rapid delivery can mean the difference between life and death.
Take, for example, the partnership between Seko Air Freight, a forwarder based in Elk Grove Village, Ill., and Bunnell Inc., a manufacturer of ventilators for premature infants.
Prior to forging the new relationship last year, Bunnell, based in Salt Lake City, had tried to manage the logistics itself.
"We were inconsistent, providing a four-hour service to one hospital, then a 12-hour service to another," said Dave Platt, Bunnell's customer service manager. "Our ability to save an infant was tied to that baby's location and time of birth. We had to do better."
Bob Strasters, Seko's station owner in Salt Lake City, came up with the idea of storing the ventilators at Seko stations around the nation. The new arrangement enables Seko to deliver the equipment within three hours after any of the 170 hospitals, which rent the ventilators on an as-needed basis, calls Bunnell.
The privately owned manufacturer now stores 80 of the ventilators, costing some $26,000 each, at 30 of Seko's 42 stations.