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Canada key to Meritor aftermarket strategy

Posted: January 24, 2018 by John G. Smith

Frank Williams, senior director – operations, North American aftermarket

LAS VEGAS, NV – Mississauga, Ontario, will get a new distribution center this April as Meritor refines its North American aftermarket strategy. And it’s not the only way Canada is playing a key role in the company’s broader plans.

“The aftermarket team has worked tirelessly this year to improve our delivery accuracy and speed,” says Brett Penzkofer, vice president – North American aftermarket. “Now we ship to customers on a daily basis, wherever they may be.”

It’s come a long way.

“A year and a half ago we didn’t even measure it,” admits Frank Williams, senior director – operations, North American aftermarket. The company tracked 48-hour deliveries, and at times was only making 60% to 70% of those.

A weekly mindset has changed to a daily one. Rather than working with 16 truck fleets, the shipments are now in the hands of four operations, and warehouse hours have been extended to 8 p.m.

“We said we’re going to ship every day, and we’re going to have the product on the shelf, and the mindset changed. To be honest it caught fire at the floor level,” Williams said.

The new Mississauga warehouse, which adds to one in Edmonton, brings Meritor closer to the goal of giving 90% of customers next-day service without the need for premium freight.

Rebuilding

Canada will also be the first country to be served by an authorized rebuilder program for carriers, with support from Capital Gear, ULT Powertrain, Coast Powertrain, and the Gear Center promising 24-hour deliveries. The model will now expand to the U.S., where 20 rebuilders will be required.

Meanwhile, Meritor has been among suppliers adding new value-priced brands to existing product lines. The entry-level Mach Brand was recently added to Meritor Reman, Euclid, Meritor, and Meritor Genuine parts – providing what’s described as good, better, and best options.

“The key is to have differentiation between the groups,” Williams says, explaining how the low-priced offerings won’t cannibalize potential sales of the better and best options. The biggest differentiator is expressed in warranties. “In order to compete with that level, we had been discounting that middle group.”

New products

There is a busy year to come. Meritor is in the process of launching more than 10 products and programs in the first quarter of the year alone, said Krishna Natarjan, senior director – steering suspension and drivetrain aftermarket.

Launches during Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week included triple and double convoluted, reversible and cab-mount air springs that can be used in 85% of applications. Its aftermarket hydraulic brake rotors for medium-duty vehicles are being given a Platinum Protect Coating, fighting oxidation and corrosion and doubling previous warranties to two years/320,000 kilometers. New King Pin kits for the Meritor Genuine and Mach product lines mean the company can now cover 95% of the market for ream and no-ream applications.

The company now controls 57% of the Original Equipment market for driveline products, Natarjan added. “That share used to be 30% not too long ago.”

Still, there are competitive challenges to face.

“There’s an increasing prevalence of knock-off slack adjusters in the market,” observed Aaron Bickford, senior director – brake and wheel end aftermarket. The proper tolerance of their gears are important to the performance, and surface imperfections will make a difference, he said. Meritor looks to extend the life of its products through things like the finishing process on the worm gear, and by optimizing the geometry of the main gear.

Sales of air disc brakes also continue to grow, annually expanding by 2% over the last four years, Bickford added, referring to truck makers who have made the brakes a standard offering. By 2025 Meritor expects the disc brakes to be found on 40% of new Class 8 trucks.

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