Fleet Maintenance - 27
It can seem like a scattered jigsaw of tools and
tactics that fleet managers are asked to put together, with new pieces being added by the day.
Kurtt, who defines his job as "mak[ing] sure our
fleets that we're looking after don't fail because
of the equipment," thinks despite the complexity,
the main thing to remember is that while the
parts may evolve, the business of transporting
goods has not.
"It's all about the humans, 100 percent," Kurtt
asserts. "All the other stuff is great, technology is
wonderful, but it [is worthless] unless you [have]
a solid human utilizing it - and using his head."
For example, a few years ago when drivers started to utilize their bunk heaters again in the colder
months, there was a run on parts.
"You're supposed to run them once a month,"
Kurtt explains. "Nobody does it. Now, when they
try to use them because it's getting cold outside,
none of them work. So, all the trucks flock into
dealerships around the country and everybody
runs out of parts."
Navistar's network did not have the necessary
parts available, and Summit dealerships needed
them to get downed trucks back on the road all
over the country.
Kurtt gave Mason Stewart, an assistant manager
at Summit's Lowell, Arkansas, store the name of
a distributor outside of the network who had the
parts. Stewart was then able to close a deal and
get the trucks moving.
Fleet owners likely had no idea what was going
on behind the scenes. All they knew was they
needed a part and the dealer came through.
The trick is to use the right solutions and align
with the right people to always make the pieces
falling into place seem effortless. Again, this is
easier said than done, and no two solutions are
going to be exactly alike. What Kurtt finds is best
for Summit Truck Group's fleet of International
models might not work for everyone, but this is a
puzzle that must be solved.
The big picture
Visualizing the parts journey, especially for wearand-tear parts, should be easy.
But should a fleet order from the OEMs, original parts makers, or independent suppliers? Each
may leverage new digital tools including artificial
intelligence, predictive stocking, and analytics
programs. And, OEMs have even branched out
to brick-and-mortar stores, selling parts to fit a
Considerations when purchasing parts include
price comparison, quality versus value, and how
much inventory to keep on hand. Not to mention
how complex the equipment is getting every year,
which leads to additional questions. Did the part
change? Are there any recalls or defects?
"It raises the opportunity for confusion, both
on who to go to and what parts to buy," says John
Blodgett, vice president of sales at MacKay &
Company, which provides market research and
analysis for the aftermarket. "But from the confusion comes more opportunities, more options."
"The distribution channels are not as defined
as they used to be, with some distributors looking
more like independent garages, and some parts
distributors and truck dealers getting into the
independent side," he explains.
OEMs have also been steadily encroaching on the
supply side, not only providing dealers with specific
parts, but expanding their product portfolios.
"The rise of the all-makes has really been a
significant change," says Joe Kory, senior vice
president of parts at Navistar. "The fleets are a
lot smarter about their parts purchasing, and that
business has become more competitive."
Kory recalls that at the beginning of the last
decade, people were completing weekly orders and
"there was no sense of urgency." That has morphed
to same-day deliveries and making sure more
parts are stocked locally, and that product distribution centers and dealers' shelves are stocked
with a greater variety of parts than ever before.
"All of these are really driven by an expectation of service levels that were unheard of 10-plus
years ago," he says.
Navistar's all-makes Fleetrite brand has 120
product lines and features 15,000 parts at 700
locations. As part of their Aftersales Vision 2025
strategy, Navistar opened up five new stores in the
U.S. and one in Honduras. Kory says the number of
stores is growing "to get parts closer to customers."
Paccar's 25-year-old TRP Parts has a global
reach of 2,200 stores and 125,000 parts, Daimler's
Alliance Parts has 50 product lines and 800 stores,
and Volvo's Road Choice has 500 locations.
The choices can be overwhelming unless fleets
hold onto one truth.
"It's still a relationship business," Blodgett says.
"So, whether you're going to Rush [Truck Center] or
Love's, a dealer or TRP store, people in their local
markets typically have relationships."
Blodgett adds that even with all the online
ordering capabilities, good suppliers will still head
out on sales calls.
"Even if their customers are doing more online,
they're still making the effort to go out and talk to
them and meet with them to make sure they don't
lose the connection, and make sure that they're up
to speed on what their fleets are doing," Blodgett
says based on his interviews with distributors.
He adds that fleet maintenance managers
should also work to keep those relationships
strong so when something goes wrong, they have
someone who knows their equipment and can give
An ecommerce platform certainly helps with
shortening steps and adding efficiencies, but
computers lack that personal touch. This may
be most crucial for smaller fleets with fewer
resources and experience with the latest engines
"They don't have as many vehicles, or as much
experience with some of the newer components
and newer issues, and that's where your parts
supplier or your distributor can really be invaluable," Blodgett says.
Gathering the pieces
Another trend is sourcing parts internationally.
"Our industry has been a little bit slow to adapt
to do that," says Brad Williamson, director of
marketing, Alliance Parts & Detroit Reman. "In
the last 18 to 24 months, that willingness to accept
products that aren't produced here in the [United]
States has increased quite a bit."
Williamson said this is due to an industrywide
push from customers for a value brand offering.
Daimler created an engineering department
dedicated to testing globally sourced parts to
ensure they meet the OEM's quality standards.
Alliance Parts also offers a one-year, unlimited-mile warranty.
Value and foreign parts may not always be
synonymous, as duties on aftermarket parts from
China were raised to 25 percent last May (from
15 percent). This includes engines and associated
cast-iron parts, cylinder heads, oil and air filters,
»Fleenor Brothers' showy Kenworth fleet catches
eyes wherever their trucks go, giving all the more
reason for the company to want to avoid being
seen broken down on the side of the road.
Photo courtesy of Fleenor Brothers
"It is just
the hassle it is
when a truck goes
out of service
for more than a
day or two."
Brian Kurtt, Navistar's fleet service
representative,Summit Truck Group
"With so many new entrants
into the parts market, including
overseas suppliers, customers
sometimes struggle with the
price versus quality question,"
says Todd Shakespeare, director
of parts marketing, Volvo Trucks
North America. "Yes, the price
might be good, but is the quality of
the part what they need to keep their
truck on the road?"
To answer that question, fleets will
need to do more than compare price points;
they will have to connect to people they trust.
October 2020 | VehicleServicePros.com
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Fleet Maintenance
Uptime: How Fleets Can Connect with Tech Schools
Editor's Note: The Aftertreatment Blues
Keys to Maximizing Trailer ROI
Best Practices for Maintaining Hydraulic Braking Systems
Solving the Parts Puzzle
Contending with Accelerated BEV Tire Wear
Cold Weather HVAC Considerations
Management: CMMS Marketplace
Economic Outlook: Signs of Economic Recovery
Diagnostics: Choosing the Right Diagnostic Tool for Roadside Triage
Fleet Parts & Components
Tools & Equipment
Guest Editorial: The Propane-Powered Alternative
Fleet Maintenance - 1
Fleet Maintenance - 2
Fleet Maintenance - 3
Fleet Maintenance - 4
Fleet Maintenance - 5
Fleet Maintenance - 6
Fleet Maintenance - 7
Fleet Maintenance - Uptime: How Fleets Can Connect with Tech Schools
Fleet Maintenance - 9
Fleet Maintenance - Editor's Note: The Aftertreatment Blues
Fleet Maintenance - 11
Fleet Maintenance - Keys to Maximizing Trailer ROI
Fleet Maintenance - 13
Fleet Maintenance - 14
Fleet Maintenance - 15
Fleet Maintenance - 16
Fleet Maintenance - 17
Fleet Maintenance - 18
Fleet Maintenance - 19
Fleet Maintenance - Best Practices for Maintaining Hydraulic Braking Systems
Fleet Maintenance - 21
Fleet Maintenance - 22
Fleet Maintenance - 23
Fleet Maintenance - 24
Fleet Maintenance - 25
Fleet Maintenance - Solving the Parts Puzzle
Fleet Maintenance - 27
Fleet Maintenance - 28
Fleet Maintenance - 29
Fleet Maintenance - 30
Fleet Maintenance - 31
Fleet Maintenance - Contending with Accelerated BEV Tire Wear
Fleet Maintenance - 33
Fleet Maintenance - Cold Weather HVAC Considerations
Fleet Maintenance - 35
Fleet Maintenance - Management: CMMS Marketplace
Fleet Maintenance - 37
Fleet Maintenance - 38
Fleet Maintenance - 39
Fleet Maintenance - Economic Outlook: Signs of Economic Recovery
Fleet Maintenance - 41
Fleet Maintenance - Diagnostics: Choosing the Right Diagnostic Tool for Roadside Triage
Fleet Maintenance - 43
Fleet Maintenance - 44
Fleet Maintenance - 45
Fleet Maintenance - Fleet Parts & Components
Fleet Maintenance - 47
Fleet Maintenance - 48
Fleet Maintenance - 49
Fleet Maintenance - 50
Fleet Maintenance - Tools & Equipment
Fleet Maintenance - Classifieds
Fleet Maintenance - 53
Fleet Maintenance - Guest Editorial: The Propane-Powered Alternative
Fleet Maintenance - 55
Fleet Maintenance - 56
Fleet Maintenance - A1
Fleet Maintenance - A2
Fleet Maintenance - A3
Fleet Maintenance - A4