It’s been a busy year for the heavy-duty aftermarket. With the age of the nation’s fleet still high, fleets are spending a fair amount of money to keep their trucks on the road. Maintenance and repair is now almost 15 cents a mile or 9% of a fleet’s total cost per mile, according to the American Transportation Research Institute’s Operational Cost of Trucking 2014 Update.
Given the importance of maintenance and repair, it seemed appropriate to recap some of the key issues that affected fleets in this area in 2014.
Service scheduling is still a problem
Wait time for repairs — especially at truck dealerships — is still too high. With capacity constrained as the economy has improved and the continuing driver shortage, this is a big concern. Fortunately the Technology & Maintenance Council is trying to do something about it. TMC’s Service Providers Study Group formed a task force to develop a recommended practice to help shops with scheduling workloads. And truck manufacturers continue to push their dealers to do a better job diagnosing trucks quickly to give fleet owners a better idea of what’s wrong with a truck, when a repair can begin, and how long it will take.
More parts and service only outlets
Truck dealers do seem to be getting the message, and many of them are adding parts and service only locations and mobile maintenance to try to address the service capacity issue. Parts distributors and independent repair garages are making brick and mortar investments to get parts and service closer to the customer.
There are still announcements in the news on a fairly regular basis about one dealer buying another or a large distributor buying up a smaller distributor in an adjacent area. The impact of consolidation is one of the things we plan to look at in 2015.
More parts options
A continued proliferation of private label parts programs from truck OEMs, marketing groups and even some dealer groups seems to be giving fleets more choices, but it’s also making it harder for fleets to know exactly what they’re getting.
Reman parts making inroads
While remanufactured brakes have long been used by fleets, many are now including other remanufactured parts in their overall parts strategy. A Frost & Sullivan report earlier this year indicted that reman powertrain components earned revenues of $3.19 billion in 2013. That number is expected to grow, and industry experts are expecting big growth in electronics remanufacturing as well.
More component integration
There’s been a big push by truck manufacturers to develop integrated powertrains. Increased efficiency and reduced fuel use are often cited as benefits. It remains to be seen how this will impact a fleet’s ability to get those components serviced at someplace other than the OE dealer. This too is something we’ll explore in the New Year.
Aftermarket loses an advocate
No recap of the aftermarket would be complete without noted the passing of long time aftermarket advocate Mike Pennington. The industry is diminished by his passing.