Ingram Micro opened the first of five build-to-order factories in the US last month, but the distributor has shelved similar plans for Australia until it can gauge the success of the company's first venture into the concept.
The US facility is the cornerstone of Ingram's Frameworks Total Integration Services channel assembly program, and can be expanded to produce up to two million custom-configured computer systems per year for major vendors, including IBM, Compaq and Hewlett-Packard.
According to Greg Spierkel, Ingram Micro's Asia-Pacific president, it would be some time before a similar facility would be seen in the region.
"We're not quite sure if we can take the model that we have in the US and take it down into one-tenth of the size to make it economically viable for Australia."
As an Ingram Mirco affiliate, Electronic Resources Australia (ERA) would be directly affected by any move from Ingram to establish a build-to-order presence in Australia.
ERA executive director Robert Lee said he would take a "wait and see" approach to Ingram's move.
He said it would remain to be seen whether the Australian or Asia-Pacific markets could sustain such a large facility.
Spierkel said the US facility will be used to build PCs and servers for vendors, as well as build "white box" machines or generic clone computers. "That is a significant market opportunity there for us," he said. "And it's the same thing for Europe, and clearly in Asia it's even bigger."
Meanwhile, he dismissed attempts by vendors such as Compaq to develop in-house build-to-order programs.
"Compaq has been trying to put a build-to-order program together. They haven't quite got it together because there's a lot of issues in their own organisation.
"The difference that we bring is that we buy from so many different vendors whereas you go to Compaq and there's only one of them.
"A reseller typically sells and bundles whatever an end customer wants. So our advantage is that we'll take Compaq PCs and servers as well as IBM, HP, Acer and clone models," Spierkel said.