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Group looks for common parts language

Posted: January 25, 2018 by John G. Smith

Bill Hanvey, president and Chief Executive Officer of the Autocare Association

Bill Hanvey, president and Chief Executive Officer of the Autocare Association

LAS VEGAS, NV – A Brockville, Ontario, business is playing a leading role in a North American initiative that hopes to bring order to the chaos of describing truck parts.

The Autocare Association’s HDDA Heavy Duty arm is working with suppliers to adopt common ways to describe the different components, leveraging the expertise of Canada’s Pricdex Software. The advantage is that distributors and their customers would more easily be able to compare one offering to the next.

The goal is to find the best way to express the details for the person who ultimately throws away the box of parts – whether it’s someone working in a fleet service bay, an independent shop, or owner-operator, said Terence O’Reilly, Pricedex president.

“We, as an industry, have to be able to utilize data more efficiently,” added Bill Hanvey, president and Chief Executive Officer of the Autocare Association. “We have to be better businesspeople in order to be able to compete with the OEMs, because that’s who our competition is.”

The task of developing product data standards is more challenging than it might appear at first glance. In terms of an air ride suspension, would a part be known as an air bag or an air spring? When different parts are measured, how should the numbers be expressed? Some companies also use the way they describe and measure parts as a way to differentiate themselves in the marketplace.

Hanvey stresses that suppliers would still control who actually receives or sees their data. “It’s not a data grab by the Autocare Association. It’s not this master database to allow people to have access,” he says.

The shift could potentially save distributors hundreds of man hours currently spent sorting product data. And with a common language, it would be possible to easily integrate related data like Vehicle Maintenance Reporting Standards (VMRS).

The initial push will zero in on 8,200 heavy duty components, covering about 85% of the parts sold. About 120 companies are already participating in the initiative, including some unnamed component suppliers based in Canada, said Jeffrey Marshall, director – business development at Pricedex.

Other industries have found ways to do it. Look no further than the hardware business. Lowes doesn’t sell lengths of lumbers in meters while Home Depot uses inches and feet. The automotive sector itself has already defined the formats for 12,000 personal vehicle components.

It’s just one of several initiatives being launched by HDDA as it looks to support the aftermarket segment.

The group has committed to expanding the heavy-duty content in its Autocare Fact Book, which offers industry forecasts. So, too, does it plan to offer new education initiatives for the aftermarket, much like it has in the automotive sector.

The HDDA will also be advocating for the industry on issues like the lack of access to vehicle data. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act guarantees that a warranty will not be void if aftermarket parts are used, Hanvey said. The sharing of data would be a natural extension.

“We need representation in Washington and the state level,” he said. “We do not get the recognition or respect we deserve.”

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