Intel is to help attack the problem that has dented financial results for many PC majors - excess inventory.
The chip giant will develop two programmes designed to insulate PC makers and resellers from sudden changes in price or availability of components such as processors and memory chips, allowing them to buy these at the last minute.
Although PC makers such as Dell have been adopting build to order approaches - in which they assemble and customise PCs to a buyer's specifications rather than building up stock - Intel believes these have been hampered by the unpredictability of the components market.
Intel's Supply Line Management Initiative will set up electronic links with its PC licensees, with large resellers that carry out assembly, and with component suppliers so that pricing can be done on a real time, as-needed basis. When a PC maker enters the specification of the model a customer has ordered in the system, it will automatically find out the best price and availability of the necessary components.
The next stage is to allow the PC vendors and resellers to actually buy the components online.
The two programmes will be piloted this year and Intel also plans to set up training initiatives for resellers that are carrying out assembly and build to order, to increase their knowledge of PC technology.
Later this year, the systems will go online for the first tier PC makers and selected large resellers, and will be open to all vendors by the end of 1999.
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