Online Timken tool gets upgrade

The Timken Co. has added enhanced features and functionality to its automotive aftermarket category management service which InformationWeek magazine named as one of 2011's 20 Great Ideas for its innovative use of information technology.

Launched last year, the online Timken tool has been upgraded to accommodate expanding usage, increase its processing speed and make the tool even more user-friendly.

Timken's category management service allows Timken authorized distributors to optimize their sales opportunities, utilize inventory dollars more efficiently and anticipate market trends in their own backyards, the company says. Using the system, they can make queries that pair Department of Transportation (DOT) registration data with proprietary market and demand data for replacement parts that can optimize inventory stocking levels.

Potentially of greatest value to users is the ability to create part-number rankings, Timken says. Distributors select specific criteria relative to their business and the category management system provides a customized list of the top part numbers for their sales area.

An upgrade improved the speed of the system and added new features including a product dashboard and custom market demand analysis to enhance usability. The more intuitive interface, paired with more graphical outputs, make it easier for users to see where product demand is greatest.

"The enthusiastic embrace of this technology shown by our light-duty distributors was the driving force in enhancing the system even further," says Tom Tecklenburg, director of automotive aftermarket for Timken. "This service is a differentiator in our category, and we continue to listen to our user base for ways to enhance the capabilities. Their voices helped drive the new interface and more graphical data presentations."

"Timken's category management service is a tremendous asset for the automotive parts distributor and the inventory optimization feature has really positively impacted our business," says Ken Wolak, purchasing agent at United Automotive Supply in Warren, Mich. "By working with the Timken team, we were able to assess our local demand and add 40 part numbers we had not been carrying, many of which we've already reordered. Those are sales we'd have otherwise missed."

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