The quest to obtain good quality replacement parts for newer and older model trucks, much less for trailers and other trucking equipment, at prices that don’t break a fleet’s wallet is never-ending in this industry.
It’s also a quest rapidly being altered by new technologies, such as the advent of 3D Printing.
That is something even the U.S. military is investigating as a way to resupply forward fighting elements with spare parts for everything from tanks to rifles.
Today, many branded replacement parts manufacturers are increasingly trying to operate more like OEMs in terms of their approach to quality control, use of sophisticated measurement systems, and adoption of “lean manufacturing” techniques to produce more consistent high-quality parts.
Take Wesley Industrial Machine Shop in Canada, for example, which sources and distributes engine parts for Caterpillar, Detroit Diesel and Cummins engines from an array of aftermarket brands.
Ted Short, owner of Wesley Machine, recently told me via email that when it comes to replacement engine parts, his customers are much more knowledgeable about what they’re buying today versus the past; no doubt largely due to the wider array of information available via the Internet.
“The biggest benefit is high quality parts for less money reducing the cost of operation for any end user or fleet,” he explained.
His company, which has been serving the diesel engine market with machining services since 1947, disassembles and overhauls engines that have been removed from heavy-duty equipment used by customers in the trucking, mining and construction industries. Located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Wesley also resells replacement parts to fleets and repair shops that service diesel engines.
Short said that when it comes to Caterpillar engines, his company normally use parts or overhaul kits from Industrial Parts Depot (IPD) a firm headquartered in Torrance, CA, that manufactures and distributes a broad range of replacement parts for Caterpillar, Cummins, Detroit Diesel, Volvo and Waukesha engines. Products include such popular items as pistons, cylinder liners, valve train parts, engine bearings, and gaskets.
Short said the use of more advanced manufacturing and quality assurance capabilities by aftermarket part suppliers like IPD is what’s making them more comparable to OEMs in terms of quality while offering the advantage of highly competitive prices.
He also believes more and more aftermarket suppliers are capable of achieving the same replacement part quality as OEMs by their use of machining equipment that meets more precise tolerances.
“That results in engine parts that consistently meet the tolerances and quality equal to that of the OEMs, in my opinion,” Short noted.
“The high tech equipment which produces today's engine parts is a game changer; this why the quality is equal to OEM parts,” he added. “They do have a great cost saving at the end of the day for a fleet rebuilding an older engine.”
It’s a trend to keep in mind as many fleets continue to seek ways to extend the life cycle of their current equipment.