Competing for Diesel Dollars with OEM Dealers
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This gets noticed. We’ve had at least a dozen instances where the operator of a big piece of equipment sends word up the line that this is a smooth running engine and this is typically a case where operator and mechanic never interact.
Customers can make the connection that a balanced engine runs better.
Other components that allow you to set yourself apart include camshafts and injectors. Reducing camshaft chatter and paying careful attention to your injector rebuild procedures can pay dividends.
Contamination is a key factor in injector performance. It’s so easy for us to look at an engine that goes out into the field and then after awhile develops a problem to assume it’s from field contamination. While that is certainly a possibility, it could also be something simple left over from the cleaning solution. Anything in the fuel line can be the culprit: how much of that is being overlooked?
These injectors are just so precise. So if you’re doing a like-for-like, you really have to go through the fuel system to identify where the contamination is coming from. It might not be foreign contamination after all; it might be something from your rebuild process.
Turbochargers are critical components as well and when we’re not getting really great reliability from a supplier we’ll pull them in and rebuild them ourselves or utilize one of the many different exchange options that are available for turbos. Again, contamination plays a major role in realized performance and reliability.
Better Assembly Practices
When you’re putting together a program that includes marketing and assembling an engine, it’s important that you have the right people. The backbone of marketing our rebuild program is the level of detail we put into the machine work and it’s a competitive edge a dealer just won’t be able to match.But, compromising on an engine assembler is just a killer.
That’s where the pieces all come together. The guys in our shop are stringent on the disassembly, assembly, and inspection of parts as they’re going back together.
When it comes to the mechanical and electronic aspects of a rebuild, our guys are thoroughly trained in good diagnostics and failure analysis as well. Customers notice such things. Being able to identify if there is something we can make better is a benefit we can offer.
In addition, process control and efficiency go hand in hand. Efficient assemblers who are both good at what they do and who can do it quickly with high quality are crucial. We have systems in place to address quality charts, files, keeping track of parts as they go through the shop and we have assemblers who can look at a part and identify if it’s a go/no go situation.
Component dimensions that need to be kept when building an engine include bearing clearances, torque specs and critical settings like valve train lash. We keep a job file on each engine that goes through, documenting deck height, making any observations including surface finishes. It may be considered a little bit overkill but five or six years down the road when the engine comes back in or there’s a call from the field, it’s nice to be able to refer back to those components.
Obviously there are a lot of things going on. Putting these things in writing so you can reference back when the engine is in the field can be important.
For example, say we’re talking about an engine out in the field. The owner is trying to decide whether to replace or rebuild it. The first thing we do is go to the job file and find out information. If the block didn’t have deck height when it left here, for example, we can tell him that right away. In some cases, that will be the deciding factor on whether to rebuild or not.
Our final step is breaking in the engine. We try to do as much of the diagnostic work and different checks (boost, temperature, etc.) on the dyno while we’re running it to look the whole system over. We check torque and horsepower while breaking the engine in, giving it a good load and checking for leaks.
But the job isn’t finished just because the engine is. After-overhaul support is critical. You want the customer on your team. Go out in the field and do absolutely everything you can to identify with the guys on the shop floor. If you have a relationship with the ones putting the engine in, the ones changing the filters, the ones doing fluid analysis and diagnosing what’s going on with the engine, you’ve got it made. If not, it just sets things up for a difficult relationship.
Once the maintenance department is on your team, things go really well. If there’s resistance with the maintenance guys, with you as the non-OE supplier, things can become difficult. After all, they are the ones who will give the first opinion about your quality to the decision makers.
If we’re sending engines out, we want to have relationships and alliances with repair facilities out there in the field or near by if something comes up, how will you take care of it? You want to know people out there who can fix the problem: shops that you can count on to do the work right, field service personnel who can go out there; those alliances are invaluable. They’ll put the customer at ease, and having another set of eyes on the other end of the phone is very important.
And then of course go after the next engine. When you’re working with the customer to be sure this engine is good it should naturally roll into the next one. That’s really how it works.
If you’ve gone from A to Z showing the pictures, documenting the specs and really doing a first class job of building the engine, the next engine will be right there waiting for you.
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