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Blum Hopes To Help Bring PERs Up to Speed Technologically
By Jenna Bates
The Production Engine Remanufacturers Association (PERA) will be coming up roses when it welcomes its new chairman at its annual convention, hosted this year in Point Clear, AL. Wilfried Blum will have some impressive shoes to fill as he replaces Jim Ormsby of Franklin Power Products, located in Franklin, IN, as president for 2001.
Blum, director of operations for Cummins Original Equipment Remanufacturing (COER), located in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, will take the reins after serving as PERA’s first vice president for the past year. He will bring with him a wealth of knowledge and experience, as well as some innovative ideas.
Blum began his career as a mechanical engineer, graduating from Concordia University, located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Before beginning his 12-year stint as general manager of Cummins Original Equipment Remanufacturing, Blum worked as a project manager for Canadian Liquid Air. For the past two years, he has been COER’s director of operations.
COER was procured by Cummins Engine Company only two years ago. Before that, it was a wholly owned subsidiary of Volkswagen for nearly 42 years.
COER is now a contract supplier not only to VW, but also to Audi, Porsche, Mitsubishi and Chrysler’s Mopar division.
COER produces approximately 20,000 engines a year in its 150-employee, 195,000 sq. ft. plant, which includes core storage. The operation produces about 80 engines and 210 to 250 cylinder heads daily.
During his tenure with COER, Blum has seen the automotive aftermarket undergo extensive changes. He predicts there will be even more change as time goes on and the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) take a larger interest in the aftermarket remanufacturing side of the industry.as far as changes go," "It "It will be a very interesting market," Blum says, "especially as it pertains to OEM involvement. The OEMs are not sitting still. They are aggressively moving toward gaining more of that lost market share."
Blum predicts that OEM involvement in the aftermarket may not necessarily be bad news for PERs, as many OEMs may need to bring more of them into the fold.
"As the proliferation of engines keeps growing, the OEMs will definitely get more remans on board," Blum predicts. However, Blum also recognizes that it may not be a picnic for many other PERs and small machine shop owners.
"The OEMs are seeing remanufacturing as a huge opportunity — more so than they have in the past," Blum continues. "The pie is getting smaller and smaller, and the only way to increase the share holders’ value is to explore the aftermarket. The European market is getting especially aggressive because it has to."
Unlike U.S. automakers, European OEMs have to contend with legislation that forces the dealers to take vehicles back after they have outlived their usefulness. The automakers will have to do something with those vehicles, and remanufacturing seems to be one of the best solutions.
This kind of program may eventually have a trickle down effect, and some, if not all, states in the United States could see similar legislation, according to Blum. That means even more involvement from the OEMs, and that could mean even more consolidation in the remanufacturing industry.
A man with a plan
Blum says he intends to work on all the various PERA themes in the upcoming year; however, his main goal will be to bring the organization’s members up to speed in terms of technology.
"The organization needs a clearer understanding of where the industry is headed technologically," Blum explains.
To that end, Blum, who has been involved with PERA for about 10 years, plans to push e-commerce for the remanufacturing industry, starting with a technical seminar to be presented at the PERA Convention Sept. 27 through Oct. 1. Beyond that, Blum has no firm plans, saying his platform is still in its infancy stages.
One thing he knows for sure, though, is that the remanufacturing industry should be careful not to lag behind when it comes to technology, especially where the Internet is concerned.
Blum attributes this lag in technology to be responsible for much of the consolidation already going on in the industry, and he suspects there will be more to come.
"Technology is changing very rapidly, and it’s taking more and more time and capital to keep up with it," Blum says.
Another goal Blum has is to address PERA’s growing attrition rate.
The steadily declining remanufacturer membership rate within PERA over the past few years seems to indicate that negative effects are already beginning to be seen in the industry, and that’s a problem Blum would like to work on resolving during his time as PERA president.
"That will be one of the biggest challenges," Blum says.
He adds that although there’s not a lot the organization can do when it comes to getting back the PERA members who have already left, there’s plenty it can do to attract new members. That includes more aggressive membership recruitment drives outside of North America. Although PERA has several members in countries all over the globe, Blum thinks the worldwide market remains generally untapped, especially as it relates to the European market.
"We have to have an active program," Blum explains. "We can’t necessarily bring back the ones that have left. The only countermeasure we have is to recruit more members and to tap the remanufacturers outside of North America."
PERA, based in Arlington Heights, IL, currently has a total of 254 PERs and their supplier companies as members. Its purpose is to give its members the information they need to produce remanufactured engines of equal or superior performance as OEMs.
Membership to PERA is open to any engine remanufacturing firm that rebuilds a minimum of 100 engines a month, and to suppliers and manufacturer representatives of engine components and shop equipment and services.
It’s a tradition that Blum has every intention of continuing.
"PERA is a very good communication avenue for bringing the latest technologies to some of the independent operators," Blum says. "We can bring to our members the latest and greatest changes and hopefully help to resolve some of their technical issues."