Using a parts purchasing program can lower costs and reduce fleet downtime.
Ineffective parts inventory management can absorb capital that may have been better spent in other areas of your operation, noted Ross Jephson at fleet software provider Chevin Fleet Solutions. Additionally, it can reduce a fleet’s productivity through increased downtime.
If those issues are apparent in your operation, Jephson said, it’s time to address poor inventory management practices with effective programs. Included are organizing parts so frequently used items are easy to access and arranging inventory so parts and components associated with specific systems, such as brakes or electrical, can be located quickly.
Efficient inventory planning also promotes effective purchasing practices, Jephson noted, a need that advanced fleet management software can address. Automated inventory replenishment programs based on usage and upcoming parts needs also minimize otherwise time-consuming administrative tasks.
“Making sure you have the parts you need in inventory allows your technicians to operate more efficiently and increase vehicle uptime so the fleet can better serve its customers,” said Clint Carter, chief commercial officer at HDA Truck Pride. “Parts needed for regular repairs and maintenance should be kept in stock and your local distributor can also supply irregularly used parts as needed at any time.”
Carter also pointed out that a well-managed parts purchasing program has two key components – a proactive fleet and a high quality distributor.
“Working closely with a local distributor opens opportunities for improvement as those operations have a treasure trove of knowledge that can help fleets make the best decisions about what parts to stock,” he continued. “Low quality parts can lead to increased downtime and possibly a costly failure on the road. Partnering with the more than 700 locations in the North American HDA Truck Pride network can give fleets high quality products, and standardized pricing and billing.”
FleetPride, with more than 285 locations in 46 states, also has national accounts teams, which it said are ready to work with fleets to offer their expertise. The parts operation supplies over 260,000 heavy duty truck and trailer parts from five distribution centers.
NAPA Integrated Business Solutions (IBS) offers fleets its Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) services. With a NAPA IBS parts room on-site at a fleet’s shop, the company noted, a lower investment is required to maintain inventory, and parts are only paid for as they are used.
Orders using the NAPA VMI solution are filled by a network of over 1,300 local and national manufacturers and distributors. IBS can also develop customized fleet inventory solutions, including integrations with fleet management software for issuing parts to work orders, invoice reconciliation, and parts cost analysis.
Fleets can also take advantage of parts sources and networks that have been established by heavy duty OEMs.
Alliance Parts, a brand of Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA), has new and remanufactured parts product lines for all makes and models at more than 800 locations, including Freightliner and Western Star dealerships and Travel Centers of America and Petro locations. The company continued to expand its retail footprint by opening 55 percent more locations in 2020, and it plans to grow by another 50 percent this year. Alliance Parts also expects to expand its product portfolio by an additional 30 percent this year.
TRP aftermarket parts for all makes of commercial vehicles are distributed by PACCAR Parts from a nationwide a network of parts distribution centers. The parts are available to fleets through authorized retailers that include TRP stores, as well as Kenworth and Peterbilt dealerships.
Programs from Navistar Parts include the manufacturer’s All-Makes maintenance items, Fleetrite maintenance and repair parts, and ReNEWed engine components that are available through the International dealer network. The company is also launching a new aftermarket product line, Diamond Advantage Diesel Parts, for Class 2 through 5 Ford Power Stroke Diesel, GM Duramax, and Dodge RAM Cummins engines.
Mack Trucks and Volvo Trucks are rolling out a new system called Parts ASIST, an online program designed to allow instant access to inventory through expanded search options and integrated catalogs that can be browsed by VIN, category, description, or VMRS code. The new platform for parts ordering from the manufacturers includes access to a customized fleet management tool for focusing on vehicle-specific parts and simplifying re-ordering.
Increasingly, parts suppliers are making it possible to integrate inventory and purchasing systems with fleet management solutions. With those capabilities and supplier expertise, fleets will find it easier to manage parts more effectively and determine which items provide their operations with the best value.
By Seth Skydel