MG Rover has outsourced the running of the system to Caterpillar supply chain subsidiary Cat Logistics. It will use Enigma software developed for the aircraft industry.
Simon Bragg, an analyst at ARC Consulting, said, "Manufacturers are beginning to recognise the importance of the support chain as analogous to the supply chain. Getting the right materials and parts to the right place is of vital importance. It is extremely profitable, and XML is the only way to go for new implementations."
MG Rover's system will integrate parts information and technical data that was previously stored in a number of disparate systems so that a price for maintenance work can be given with "one click".
Don Lindsay, manager of customer programmes at MG Rover, said, "The inspiration has come from the aircraft maintenance industry, which has rigorous standards of technical information, parts details and servicing schedules.
"It will give us a slickness of data transfer which will enable us to have all the information we need in one place and quote fitted parts prices at the touch of a button."
Lindsay was unable to cite expected return on investment figures. "What we know is that franchise dealers such as ourselves have been losing out to the independents," he said. "By using this type of technology, franchises are winning back market share. Basically, it will improve competitive pricing and enable us to deliver high-quality work and responsiveness."
The system will be turned on in the UK "big-bang" style on 1 March, although it is already operational in mainland Europe.