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Parts at the heart of the operation

Parts and service, the heart of fleet maintenance operations and the lifeblood of the OE dealership, are what keeps trucks and trailers on the road generating revenue for both parties.

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Parts and service are the heart of fleet maintenance operations and the lifeblood of the OE dealership. It’s simply what keeps the trucks and trailers on the road generating revenue for both parties. Over the past few years, virtually all truck OEMs developed their own parts brand to address the all-makes truck parts market and to appeal to the second, third and fourth owners, as well as to the independent service garages, with a lower cost model (than the genuine part) to attract those end-users back to the dealership beyond the warranty period.

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In many cases, first-owner fleets use these lower cost products when a vehicle is nearing the end of its tenure. Second owners (smaller fleets) are encouraged by this to purchase non-OEM-quality replacement parts. 

“More than ever, truck operators and the independent shops are rushing to the ‘white box’ because they are recognizing the trusted products at a value price,” said Todd Biggs, director of aftermarket parts and marketing, Alliance Truck Parts (a brand of Daimler Trucks North America).

Alliance said its goal is “to supply a strategic lineup of need-it-now and frequent-replacement parts, delivering on our “good parts/better prices” promise. Our brand must be the better part with a good price, since the first owner, plus the subsequent owners, seek value,” Biggs said. “We’ve worked hard to deliver on our all-makes promise of offering better parts (over 30 parts) at value prices at more than 800 locations. That value, the expanding breadth of our product offering, the one-year unlimited mileage warranty, and the nationwide availability are helping our brand’s gains with customers.”

He also called the options for aftermarket parts overwhelming; and one truck operator from Kentucky said, “The source, as well as the quality of what comes out of the box, can impact my operation’s bottom line.”

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With a rebranding effort launched in early 2011, Alliance has accomplished several key steps:

• Bolstered its catalog offering, focusing on frequent-replacement parts and accessories. The catalog information is available online in downloadable PDF format or active Zmag digital publishing platform.

• Launched a new mobile-optimized website to address the immediacy of on-road repairs. Its focus is on expanded product content.

• NASCAR Nationwide Series car and driver sponsorship continued with the parts maker’s partnership with Penske Racing.

• Launched a new line of heavy-duty alternators that stand up to the higher temperatures of today’s EPA-compliant engines and meet quality, fit and finish requirements.

“When a truck is down, it costs the owner more than just the money to repair it,” added Biggs. The supplier intends to offer more remanufactured components, while sales of glider kits continue to soar as particular fleets wish to “re-outfit” their own power units using quality parts and their own talented technicians.

Complementing DTNA’s focus on improved parts service, the company has raised the bar for customer service to end-users on the dealer side of the equation. Its network of Elite Support Certified dealers continues to grow as fleets and owner-operators become aware of the services offered at these locations.

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Freightliner and Western Star Elite Support Certified dealers (95 today with 63 more dealers working to meet criteria) offer rapid diagnostics and consistent communication, making certification an item that fleets request. “Elite Support focuses on enhancing dealership processes that address customer concerns, which leads to higher customer satisfaction,” said Martin Osborne, general manager of distribution network development, DTNA. “Our dealers are engaged and invested in making advancements that not only improve the customer experience, but also help make dealers more efficient.”

The brand is probably 12 or 13 years old and has developed over time as Freightliner has added products to its portfolio. It is only offered to Freightliner dealers and has created a nice niche for them. In addition, it has been backed by some significant marketing dollars in terms of advertising and NASCAR sponsorship.

Freightliner has made a significant investment in developing its own brand of products. Alliance plays a significant role in Freightliner’s parts strategy, offering purchasing leverage against genuine branded supplier products such as Meritor, Dana or Eaton, etc. The product categories are usually quoted on a periodic basis, so purchasing has more options than just what was selected on the new vehicle. 

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