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A best practice is to deal with repair shops that specialize in rebuilding. This helps to make sure any work is done efficiently and properly so that the vehicle spends as little time as possible off the road.

Things to think through when selecting uptime products and services

Dec. 8, 2017
A parts solution that minimizes costs while also supporting the goal of uptime.

I have been hearing the term “uptime” as it relates to providing products and services in a timely fashion to repair unexpected failures on vehicles for many years now. North American truck OEMs have all developed some form of focused dealer strategy around getting trucks up and running as quickly as possible. 

Was this shift in focus a response to what independent repair facilities were accomplishing, or rather a recognition of the economic impact of downtime to a fleet or truck owner? It really doesn’t matter, in my opinion, because customers are receiving a higher level of customer service than they did even 10 years ago, and that is the desired outcome. 

So how does a maintenance manager determine what elements of component and supplier selection are critical to ensuring uptime? There are many perspectives. Some may believe uptime is measured solely by resolving this one occurrence and getting the vehicle up and running. Perhaps more factors should be considered.

Is there a solution that minimizes costs while also supporting the goal of uptime, not just for today, but also for the long haul? I believe so, and advocating your repair facility for what product you believe provides the best long-term “uptime” is possible and should be encouraged.

A Race

The entire race begins the minute you determine the origin of the failed component.

My expertise is with remanufactured transmissions, differentials and steering gears – a product line most dealers and repair facilities are not able to stock due to the variety of top level part SKUs. However, it is a good example to use because a catastrophic failure of one of these components will need a resolution quickly.

If we use an unofficial benchmark of returning that vehicle to the road in 36 hours, there is a lot of work to do. You or your installer will likely need help from an outside vendor to identify the right part or any available alternatives.

In today’s e-commerce environment, there is a real push for independence. Customers are less favorable toward the telephone and more in favor of the ability to identify parts and check for available inventory around the clock. Placing an order for a major component independently was not – and still is not – the norm, but there is a movement toward that part validation and ordering process.

This option is great for the consumer. Some shroud of mystery that used to surround this selection created an artificial reliance on vendor A over vendor B, not always generating the most competitive outcome for that operator.

Availability

Once you have identified the right replacement option, availability is the next driver to achieving optimal uptime.

There used to be a historical preference for having a local rebuild shop repair the damaged component, or the dealer or independent repair facility completing the repair. 

Through my visits to these types of locations, I have identified a shortfall in technicians who specialize in these kinds of repairs. The ability for service bays to have specialists, with the ongoing technician shortage, is many times simply not realistic. 

Also, when locations that don’t specialize in rebuild perform the work, I often hear about hard parts – such as shims or washers needed to complete the job – being missed in the initial order of replacement parts, slowing the ability to return that vehicle to the road. 

With today’s drive for optimal uptime, selecting a remanufactured exchange replacement is the most optimal way to get those wheels turning.

Options

What should fleet maintenance managers and truck owners consider when choosing a suitable remanufactured option? This decision depends on where the trucks will primarily operate and the age of the vehicle to be repaired. 

A fleet that remains in a localized geographic region may have a very reliable rebuild center located close by its operation. Also, the fleet may not be as concerned with a national or North American-wide warranty, as would fleets that operate from coast-to-coast in the U.S., Canada or Mexico.

What type of after-sales service will you receive if you experience a breakdown out of your home geographic region or out of the country? Many original component manufacturers offer parts availability in other countries, as do the major truck OEMs, but the logistics of receiving the part in time can be challenging and, unfortunately, you may not be near a preferred installer to complete the work. 

How long you plan on keeping the vehicle is another factor in selecting a replacement part. For a truck that is late in the trade cycle, a six-month or one-year warranty may be a cost-effective option, but you usually get what you pay for. A good warranty, with complete coverage, is typically a sign of a higher quality product.

Warranty 

Look for a warranty where the terms are published and make sure you understand those terms. Generally, two years is the industry standard warranty for major components.

Be sure you clearly understand:

- What is covered and for how long.

- What support is available across the country.

- Where you can receive repairs.

- Whether you will have to pay anything upfront for the repair or if a replacement is provided pending warranty.

Always contact the original installer or supplier before authorizing a major repair if you expect to receive coverage because it is often difficult to determine the failure mode once work is completed and damaged parts are replaced.

Ensure Uptime

The option of using remanufactured components is an excellent way to ensure uptime while maximizing value.

Look for great product support and helpful tools for ordering, whether online, over the phone or in person. Such resources can provide the best options to getting your vehicle up and running, regardless of age. Consider warranty as a crucial part of your decision and ensure you are covered wherever you operate.

This is all part of the uptime equation to get the wheels turning and keep them turning.

Bill Statham is president of Mascot Truck Parts (www.mtpi.com). Mascot is a leading wholesale remanufacturer of manual transmissions, differentials, steering gears and driveshafts for the commercial vehicle aftermarket. Mascot has manufacturing locations in Indiana and Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, as well as a network of 27 satellite distribution centers across North America. Statham has specialized in remanufacturing for almost 30 years in both the U.S. and Canada.  

About the Author

Bill Statham | President, Mascot Truck Parts

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