The truck parts and service aftermarket has grown to $107 billion, according to MacKay & Co., and as a result it is getting a great deal of attention. In 2016 there seemed to be a big focus on parts, alliances and training with other issues like DPFs, remanufacturing and some innovative ways to deal with the technician shortage also getting some play.
Here’s a closer look at some of the key aftermarket concerns in 2016.
Parts confusion reigns.
Fleets have myriad options when it comes to selecting parts for their vehicles. From private label to all makes to price point to aftermarket replacement things can get confusing when a truck is down and a part is needed for a repair. Worse yet, it can be very difficult to determine exactly whose part is actually in the box. Experts advise fleets to continually evaluate the requirement of the part based on the application it is needed in. Partnering with the right supplier — be it dealer or independent distributor — should provide fleet managers with the assurance they need that they are getting the part that will serve them best.
Efforts underway to improve parts availability.
All too often the focus of a repair is getting a truck assessed rapidly, with less attention paid to whether or not parts are in stock and available. In 2016 several OEMs as well dealers and distributors began initiatives to get parts closer to the customer. Daimler Trucks North America, Paccar Parts and Hino all opened new parts distribution centers in 2016. According to Daimler, the new PDC was part of a “multifaceted plan to improve parts availability.” Stone Truck Parts in Garner, N.C., a member of HDA Truck Pride, moved into a 75,000-square-foot facility that “allows us to have the right parts in stock for [our customers] and allows our branches to have access to more inventory,” says Andrew Purcell, sales and marketing manager. Dennis Thompson, an International dealer in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, opened a central parts warehouse to house parts for all six of his locations and he also runs delivery trucks between the warehouse and the dealership locations.
Online parts sales are growing.
David Seewack, CEO and founds of FinditParts, says his company has seen double-digit growth as fleets move from using the online supplier of heavy-duty truck and trailer parts for hard to find parts to using it to replenish normal stocking items. He attributes this to the fact that fleet personnel have become more comfortable purchasing items in their personal lives and are now getting more comfortable making online purchases for their businesses. He describes online sales of heavy-duty parts as being in the infancy stages and sees nothing but “upward trajectory ahead.”
Alliances made to strengthen independents.
This year saw a lot of alliances in the independent side of the aftermarket. The Commercial Vehicle Solutions Network partnered with the National Automotive Service Task Force to ensure independent repair shops can easily access the information being made available to them under the Memorandum of Understanding with truck and engine makers. HDA Truck Pride partnered with iMatics on a system that they say is “the first ever aftermarket telematics program [for] the commercial vehicle industry.” The marketing group also teamed up with the Afermarket Auto Parts Alliance to create the Aftermarket Distribution Alliance to give HDA Truck Pride members access to a wide range of fleet parts for medium-duty and smaller vehicles. Vipar Heavy Duty joined with Nexus Automotive, an international group of independent automotive and truck parts distributors. Along with the Automotive Distribution Network and Automotive Parts Associates, Vipar also formed NEXUS North America LLC “to provide a forum for the three groups to share ideas, knowledge and strategies to best meet the needs of customers ranging from light passenger through heavy duty commercial vehicles.”
Remanufacturing gets some standard definitions.
Six leading associations in the automotive sector agreed on common definitions for the terms remanufacturing and cores. Henry Foxx, director of remanufacturing for Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, sees this “as a first step in providing the fleet owner or managers a criteria to distinguish between various supplier offerings.” It is hoped that having agreement on terminology will clear up confusion about what is a remanufactured part and how it differs from a rebuilt one.
Training continues to dominant conversations.
Service providers and fleets alike continue to recognize the important of properly trained technicians. The Commercial Vehicle Solutions Network announced an alliance with ProMech Learning Systems, Service Professionals Inc. and Wheel Time University, to address “the tremendous need for technical training. As parts of the rebranding of the former VIPro TruckForce Service Center program to TruckForce Service Center, Vipar Heavy Duty says the new program “offers a stronger focus on technical and product training, utilizing resources from supplier partners as well as webinars and other training opportunities.” Meritor introduced its Service Point Program, an initiative designed to provide fleets and owner-operators with a network of Meritor-approved service partners. One big key to the program is the training that will be provided to these select repair garages by Meritor.
There is still confusion about the proper cleaning cycle for diesel particulate filters.
Over the next six years two million Class 6 to 8 trucks equipped with emission controls and aftertreatment components will enter the market. This will put additional pressure on fleets to take steps to minimize having to replace components. Fleets need to determine a maintenance schedule for their DPFs even though that can be complicated. Manufacturer’s guidelines are a good place to start but specific application and operational conditions may mean cleaning intervals will have to be adjusted. However, regular maintenance will allow fleets to avoid costly component replacement.
It is going to take innovative solutions to deal with the technician shortage.
The technician shortage is not going to go away anytime soon. In 2016 three new initiatives for finding technicians came to our attention. The first is Be Pro, Be Proud, a joint effort by the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and the Associated Industries of Arkansas. They developed a mobile workstation that travels across the state introducing students to opportunities available in trucking and other technical professions. The second is
The technician shortage is not going to go away anytime soon.
In 2016 three new initiatives for finding technicians came to our attention. The first is Be Pro, Be Proud, a joint effort by the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and the Associated Industries of Arkansas. They developed a mobile workstation that travels across the state introducing students to opportunities available in trucking and other technical professions. The second is opening of the third location of the Peterbilt Technician Institute. The program is open to students who have completed a diesel program or an automotive/diesel program and want additional training. Students are sponsored by Peterbilt dealers who cover tuition costs. The third was an effort by the Black Rock Truck Group which pays students loans for qualified technicians as long as they remain at the dealership. After a probationary period, technicians are eligible for the loan payment program and are not required to commit to staying at the dealership for a particular amount of time.
A dealership finds a way to bring diagnostics to the fleet.
While rapid diagnostics of trucks has been around for several years now and most dealers promise to diagnose a truck within two hours, those diagnoses have always taken place in the shop. Recently Fyda Freightliner announced a mobile express assessment program. Using state-of-the-art diagnostics vehicles, Fyda Freightliner technicians go to the fleet to diagnose their vehicles saving the fleet time from not having to get the trucks to the dealership for diagnosis.