September 2014 - AKMI Corporation

Monthly Archives: September 2014

Adding New Heavy Duty Truck Parts to Inventory

As a purchasing manager for an aftermarket heavy duty replacement truck parts supplier, it is my responsibility to research parts and determine the best parts to add to the inventory.

There are many factors to consider when it comes to adding parts to existing inventory. Age of the part, demand for the part, and quality sourcing are all important. Knowing what parts to start with and the basic information of the part are crucial.

Listening to customers is one of the best ways to figure out what new parts are on the rise. Customers at some point in time will ask the salesforce about a part number that is not in stock or currently available by the company. When this happens, is your salesforce prepared to get the information you will need to make it easier to research the part in question?

Here is a list of questions the salesforce team can ask the customer:

How often do you sell this particular part?

Product demand will help in determining a part. You wouldn’t want to add something that a customer only replaces once a year.

What year is the truck?

Newer trucks will have manufacturer warranties up to 5 years or more. During this time, parts are covered by the warranty, so aftermarket heavy duty replacement truck parts are not needed until the warranty is expired. There is not many older trucks, 35 years or older, that are still roadworthy. Adding new inventory parts for trucks this old would not make sense.

Do you see a wide variety of this type of truck or engine types?

Different geographical areas tend to see more of one type of truck/engine than another. One customer could see more AFTERMARKET DETROIT Diesel engines versus Aftermarket Mack engines.

What is the OEM cost to replace the part?

Aftermarket options need to be of good quality, but also need to be priced as such that it is worth going with the aftermarket part instead of OEM.

Besides polling the salesmen for information, reviewing customer purchase history can be useful. If a customer is purchasing many types of AFTERMARKET CUMMINS heavy duty truck replacement parts, you can conclude that they would be open to more AFTERMARKET CUMMINS part options.

Let’s say you have a list of some part numbers to research. This list was finalized after speaking with your salesforce and reviewing customer histories, but you are still unsure if you should add this part. Another way to get some information on a part is by doing a ‘Google’ or other web browser search.

Type the part number and part type in the search bar and see what comes up. If the first few pages show multiple listings of this part for retail sale, whether it’s used, remanufactured or new, you more than likely are looking at a part number that is in demand now.

If all you come across in your search are overseas companies looking to sell this part number and no retail listings, you may have an oddball part that isn’t in demand. Either this, or the part is still being covered by manufacturer warranty and will not be in demand for a while. It could be possible that you are using an older part number and should check for alternates to confirm.

Before you add any heavy duty replacement truck parts, be sure you research the parts very carefully, then look for your sourcing options.

Heavy Duty Trucking Industry – Careers Available

The heavy duty trucking industry has a big demand for qualified truck drivers. There is also a need for qualified mechanics/technicians that are knowledgeable in repair work and know to use quality replacement diesel engine spare parts.

The freedom of the open road and driving cross country hauling freight doesn’t appeal to the younger generation. Most people, myself included, look to pass trucks while on the freeway and hate getting stuck behind them.

Short haul driving (within city limits) doesn’t appear to be that appealing either. No one likes traffic to begin with, and being stuck in the city with a truck & trailer three times the size of average car on a daily basis doesn’t sound fun.

Truckinginfo.com posted an article in December of 2013 titled “Commentary: The Ever-Pressing Need for Young Drivers and Technicians”. This article mentions that the average age of current drivers is 55+, as provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s also mentioned that by 2020, there can be a need for 330,000 new drivers.

Here are some misconceptions of being a truck driver:

  1. Stigma of super long days or terrible hours.
    Most truckers will work longer days on average than most, but with new safety regulations and limits on how many hours a trucker can drive, it’s not as bad as it used to be. Trucking companies will need drivers at all times of the day, so different shifts are available.
  2. Older trucks are not the easiest to drive. They are manual transmissions and can have 16 gears’ or more that would need to be shifted through just to get up to speed.
    While driving a manual transmission truck does take more focus and concentration, many newer trucks being made are equipped with automatic transmissions, so they will be easier to drive.
  3. Short Haul drivers complain the company does not have enough drivers, hours are too long and not being appreciated.
    Some of these complaints are valid. A trucker can report at 8 am and not return to yard until 6 pm. I have worked in warehouse environment for a long time and seen many drivers happy and many that were disgruntled.

Wikipedia noted that in 2005 there was an estimated shortage of 20,000 drivers and expected this number to increase to 111,000 by 2014. At one point, driver turnover for trucking companies was 136%. More drivers were either retiring, quitting, or being let go, then were being hired as replacements or new drivers. It’s no surprise that the short-haul drivers complain as they do.

The article from Truckinginfo.com goes on to mention that the need for technicians/mechanics is even worse than the need for drivers. The Department of Labor estimated 10 years ago there were 606,000 diesel technicians and the industry would need 205,000 more by 2014 to fill new positions and replace retirees.

Several reasons have been speculated about the shortage of diesel technicians. While the weight of diesel engine spare parts may not be a good reason, the complexity of the parts can be considered one. Also, the repair work may be considered harder compared to automotive. Diesel engines and their spare parts are bigger/heavier than automotive engines and parts, but the repair processes are very similar.

When people think of a diesel mechanic, their first thought is probably of an overweight older gentleman, covered with grease spots and a workshop that is outdated. There are probably places like this, but most certified repair shops are very clean and professional.

Salaries can also be misrepresented to the younger generation to a point where they feel the work is not worth the pay. The pay scale for drivers and technicians actually are comparable to other careers and geographical areas. Years of experience and quality of work can be factors as well.

So, how can the shortage be overcome?

Creating more public awareness about the positives involved with being a truck driver or technician is one way. Having programs that can reach out and educate high school kids about careers in these fields can go a long way. Not all high school kids go on to college. Some kids may look at going to vocational schools for specialized training or they learn on the job.

Big time truck builders such as “Aftermarket Navistar, Peterbilt and Aftermarket Volvo” have established alliances or vocational training programs with schools like Universal Technical Institute (UTI) or Wyotech to help improve and educate new recruits for a career as a diesel technician.

If you are at a crossroads in life, or just looking for a career change, there is plenty of room in the trucking industry as a driver or technician.

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