Having to rely on the dealer or aftermarket parts supplier to tell you exactly what part you need can be a time-consuming and frustrating process. Diesel Laptops is hoping to simplify the process with the beta launch of its newest offering, TruckPartsLookup.
Best known for its diagnostic software, Diesel Laptops launched this new initiative following requests from some of its customers, according to Nate Knorr, product manager for Truck Parts Lookup and Truck Parts Cross. Customers were frustrated at how long it typically took them to get part number information from dealers and heavy-duty parts distributors.
“When we started on the project, we thought it was going to be easy, but tackling the giant turned out to be more involved than we thought,” he says.
Determining that getting information on engine parts would be easier than getting information on parts for an entire truck, the team started looking at Cummins engines. The process began with examining parts using 50 to 80 serial numbers from one certain model of engine. “Once we were confident that the parts were accurate and would remain consistent throughout a specific model, we built the needed software [that would allow for proper parts identification],” Knorr says.
Once the software was built for a particular engine, Knorr and his team took another 50 to 60 serial numbers to check the accuracy of their work. When they were satisfied, they moved on to other engines and eventually to truck models. In some cases, they had vehicle VINs to work with. In other cases, they found people who shared part number information with them. And in some cases, they even purchased trucks and crawled around under them to get the information they needed.
Knorr says they operated under the premise that while there are differences in truck componentry, “at the end of the day, our research showed that the base truck is the same [for a given model number].”
The website is a work in progress, but today a fleet can enter a make and model number and then choose from a list of product categories to find the part number they need. No VIN or serial number is necessary.
Diesel Laptops is currently beta testing the program and is allowing fleets free access to the website, but is asking for feedback in order to “make sure we have the best, most complete database for trucks that are going to be in the shop every day,” says Mike Heath, marketing analyst for Diesel Laptops truck parts web properties.
To date, data is available for two models of Kenworth trucks, one model of Volvo trucks, several engine models as well as for some light-duty truck models.
“We started with the 2016 [model year] and we are working our way back to 2010,” he says. “That is our goal for the end of this year, and not just for trucks but for transmissions, rear ends, wheel end components, brake shoes, etc.”
They chose 2016 “because we felt that those are the trucks that are now starting to come off warranty,” Knorr says.
In addition to helping fleets find the right parts, the site also takes the user to a truck parts cross-reference database where they can find aftermarket alternatives for the part.
Time will tell if the site proves to be of value to fleets in helping them locate parts quickly, increasing uptime and providing fleet managers with more parts options.