Buying genuine parts for axle maintenance saves money and improves safety

17/07/2017 10:28:01
 
 
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ImagesClick Image for 300dpi jpg fileBuying genuine parts for axle maintenance saves money and improves safetyBuying genuine parts for axle maintenance saves money and improves safety

As fleet operators look at reducing their maintenance costs, purchasing non-OE parts can seem like a quick and easy way to save money. But, as Gavin Takel, Technical Sales Manager at JOST Axle Systems, explains, this short term fix can work out more expensive in the long term, with original equipment parts proving cheaper in pence per mile, as well as safer.

JOST Axle Systems was previously known as Mercedes-Benz TrailerAxleSystems. As one of the two distributors of genuine parts for legacy Mercedes-Benz systems in the UK, the company is all too well aware of the prevalence of poorly manufactured, sub-par counterfeits on the market.

With most commercial vehicle trailers serviced every 6-12 weeks depending on mileage, servicing costs are something every operator wants to keep under control. When it comes to maintenance and repair, everyone recognises the necessity of only using qualified workshops to perform the work on axle systems and associated components; understanding that improperly performed maintenance and repair work can increase costs in the long run, as well as posing a significant safety hazard.

But does this same recognition extend to the use of non-OE (non-original equipment) aftermarket parts?

Aftermarket parts that are non-OE have been found within the automotive industry for many years. Because they promise an exact-fit replacement for the OE part, it can be tempting to think that the parts must be of similar quality. Even if they are not quite as good, does that really matter if the cost savings more than mitigate any slightly shorter lifespan? After all, any wear will surely be picked up at the next service just a few weeks down the line.

During a service, the complete axle should always be inspected according to the manufacturer’s service manual: looking at brakes, hub assemblies, suspension, etc. This is where general wear and tear will be identified and parts replaced if necessary. The wear rate of different components will be dependent on the usage profile of the vehicle. For example, brake pads and discs will wear at a different rate for vehicles that spend most of their time at a constant speed on motorways than for those that are in and out of traffic on busy trunk roads.

The temptation for some fleet operators comes when looking at the cost of replacing the worn parts and comparing the price to non-OE components. However, the wear profile of a non-OE part is likely to be very different compared to a genuine OE part, and premature failure is a very real problem.

Should a premature failure occur then there will be no opportunity to identify the fault during a service, so the failure is likely to happen on the road. If it’s a brake part that fails then the consequences could be catastrophic.

Cost benefit analysis

But, this is not just a safety issue. Away from the potential hazards, while non-OE parts may be a little bit cheaper initially, there is no guarantee that they will be suitable for the job, impacting on performance, reliability and durability. Short term cost savings will almost always deliver cost-per-mile increases over the longer term.

A ‘pence per mile’ analysis on the use of OE versus non-OE parts will quickly highlight that buying lower cost aftermarket parts is a false economy. Replacement parts need to be purchased more frequently, and the workshop has to carry out more work. Further, the use of non-original parts is likely to invalidate any warranty on the vehicle and could leave the operator liable for damages in the event that a failure on the road leads to damage, injury or worse.

Reliability and durability

Commercial vehicle manufacturers are constantly developing their trailer axles, components and parts, building on the latest science and technology, to deliver the highest levels of performance in their systems. The vehicle manufacturers and OE suppliers invest millions each year in R&D and testing to ensure that the components offer the highest levels of performance and safety.

These components are designed-in from the outset, the manufacturers specify exact parameters for materials, torque values and permissible load limits. They do not, and cannot, assess replacement parts from external sources, so there is no guarantee that the aftermarket suppliers will meet the specifications for these critical parameters.

Significant deviations from the original specification are not only possible, but, in fact, likely. If you deviate from the permissible or required tightening processes and torque values, then you run significant risks to life and limb. Even the use of non-OE accessories – including non-approved tyres, rims and wheel hub covers – can increase the risk of accident. Should the worst happen, when the finger of blame is inevitably pointed, legally the driver, the maintenance manager and the fleet owner/manager all bear the burden of responsibility.

The quality of non-OE components can vary wildly. There is no way of knowing where or how a part has been manufactured, and no information on the quality of the materials used. Even if the part is of high quality, it won’t have been designed-in from the start. Using an OE part is the only way to guarantee suitability and the only way to maintain any outstanding warranty.

So how can the fleet operator ensure that he is getting approved OE replacement parts? The simple answer is to source parts directly from the manufacturer or an approved dealer. This information should usually be readily available on the manufacturer’s website, but if you can’t find it then most OE parts are supplied with QR codes or hologram stickers to indicate their OE status.

Do be careful when specifying parts and remember, just because a part says it’s suitable for a system it doesn’t make it OE approved. For example, genuine parts for legacy Mercedas-Benz axle systems are only available in the UK from JOST Axle Systems and Mercedes-Benz. There are many aftermarket parts on the market that are advertised as Mercedes-Benz Trailer Axle Systems, but, unless those parts come from one of these two companies, they are not OE parts.

The problems that can accrue from the use of non-OE parts can quickly hit the bottom line; failing time and again to deliver the performance, durability, reliability and ultimate longevity of genuine OE parts. Not only that, use of these non-OE parts can invalidate warranty and compromise safety.

The short term cost savings of using non-OE parts is almost always followed by financial pain in the longer term.

Photo Caption 1: As one of the two distributors of genuine parts for legacy Mercedes-Benz systems in the UK, the company is all too well aware of the prevalence of poorly manufactured, sub-par counterfeits on the market.

Photo Caption 2: So how can the fleet operator ensure that he is getting approved OE replacement parts? The simple answer is to source parts directly from the manufacturer or an approved dealer.

About JOST:

JOST is a leading global producer and supplier of safety-critical systems to the truck and trailer industry. The Company offers branded, quality products clustered in three systems: Vehicle Interface (focusing on products required to operate a commercial vehicle combination of trucks and trailers such as fifth wheels and landing gears), Handling Solutions (including container technology and hydraulic cylinders products) and Maneuvering (focusing on truck and trailer axles and forced steering). As the number one supplier of fifth wheels and landing gears globally, JOST is the market leader for Vehicle Interface systems. JOST’s global leadership position is driven by the strength of its brands, by its long-standing client relationships serviced through its global distribution network as well as by its efficient and asset-light business model.

The Company’s core brands “JOST”, “Rockinger”, “TRIDEC” and “Edbro” are well-recognized in the industry and highly regarded for their quality and continuous innovation. With its global distribution network and production facilities in thirteen countries across five continents, JOST has direct access to all major truck and trailer manufacturers and relevant end customers. JOST currently employs about 2,700 members of staff worldwide.

The image(s) distributed with this press release may only be used to accompany this copy, and are subject to copyright. Please contact DMA Europa if you wish to license the image for further use.

Editor Contact

DMA Europa Ltd. : David Bedford
Tel: +44 (0)1562 751436 Fax: +44 (0)1562 748315
Web: www.dmaeuropa.com
Email: infoallenquiries@dmaeuropa.com

Company Contact

JOST UK Ltd. : Danny Broomfield, JOST UK Ltd.
Tel: + 44 (0) 1204 528888 Fax: + 44 (0) 1204 531957
Web: www.jostuk.co.uk
Email: danny.broomfield@jost-world.com

 
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