Denise Rondini

Denise Rondini

Uptime seems to be the latest trucking industry buzzword, with manufacturers and service providers putting a lot of effort into programs designed to get trucks in and out of the shop more quickly. While there’s a lot of emphasis on rapid diagnosis and better communication, another big piece of improving repair times is parts availability.

It doesn’t matter how quickly a technician in your own shop or at an outside service provider’s shop can diagnose a problem; the repair will be put on hold without the right parts.

Several truck manufacturers are taking action in this area. Daimler Trucks North America recently opened a new parts distribution center in Dallas. The company says the PDC is “a major step in a multifaceted plan to improve parts availability and meet customer expectations of uptime.” With the addition of the Dallas location, the company now has eight PDCs.

“The speed with which we receive parts has improved front counter customer satisfaction due to improved fill rates,” says Dan Stevens, chief operations officer and partner of Lonestar Truck Group, a Freightliner dealership with 12 locations in Texas, New Mexico, Louisiana and Arkansas.

Hino Trucks recently celebrated the grand opening of its California PDC and training center. The company’s second U.S. parts location will improve the availability and the parts distribution process to Hino’s growing number of western dealers and the fleets they serve.

But the OEMs are not the only ones who realize that parts need to be closer to the customers. Stone Truck Parts, a parts distributor headquartered in Garner, N.C., and a member of HDA Truck Pride, recently moved into a nearly 75,000-square-foot facility. Andrew Purcell, sales and marketing manager, says the newly expanded space “allows for us to have the right parts in stock for [our customers] and allows our branches to have access to more inventory.”

And some dealers are taking action to improve parts availability. Dennis Thompson, chairman and CEO of Thompson Truck & Trailer, an International dealer headquartered in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, says, “We constantly monitor our parts inventory. We are always looking at what is on the shelf. Do we have the right part on the shelf at the right time?”

To make sure parts are available, Thompson (who is the 2016 ATD/Heavy Duty Trucking/Procede Truck Dealer of the Year finalist, see page 78), set up a central warehouse to house parts for all six of his locations. He also has invested in two delivery trucks that deliver parts to the locations on a regular basis. This means the dealership locations get parts the same day or the next day, instead of having to order parts and wait two to three days to have them delivered. This means customers get the parts needed for repairs more quickly.

Ron Meyering, president of M&K Truck Centers headquartered in Byron Center, Mich., and a 2016 Truck Dealer of the Year nominee, says his dealership uses a managed inventory system that helps make sure the right parts are on the shelf when needed.

If you (or your service partners) are going to have the right parts on the shelf, you need to know what parts you use in the repairs you typically perform. This is where VMRS (Vehicle Maintenance Report Standards) can help.

Speaking at a Decisiv VMRS webinar, Paul Moszak, vice president and general manager for the Truck Group at Motor Information Systems and chairman of the Technology & Maintenance Council’s VMRS Codes Committee, said, “By adding VMRS codes it validates parts information to assist with future ordering and inventory management…By VMRS coding parts, you get reporting capabilities based on the part type regardless of the actual part number.”

He adds, “Streamlining parts management with VMRS saves as much as 15% in transaction time and saves 20% of total inventory costs.”

Saving time and money: A good combination.