My guess is that all heavy duty truck parts buyers have ordered a part only to find out later that it is the wrong one. That can happen for a number of reasons: The part number that you got from the seller part catalog or a supplier’s website is just plain wrong. If you didn’t have a good number and had to use the description, the chances of making an error go way up; most part descriptions leave a lot to be desired. And Make-Model-Year (MMY) searches don’t always work if the truck has been modified. Or the part you are ordering has been superseded by another part number. I can go on, but, you already know that it's easy to get the wrong vehicle replacement part in.
I did some checking on the real cost of getting in the wrong part and was surprised to find out how much it really costs when you add it up all along the supply chain. First is time. The time the buyer spends looking up the part, the time the parts person at the dealer spends talking to the buyer on the phone, the time it takes to enter the order at both the shop and the dealer, the time the warehouse person spends pulling and packing, the time the delivery person spends driving the part to the shop. And so on. The time is crucial element in replacement vehicle part and wrong part order takes a toll on it.
But wait, there’s more. When you send the part back, this whole process has to go in reverse, kind of like running a movie backward. The delivery person picks up the wrong part, it has to go back to the warehouse, credit has to be issued, and so on. Then there is the cost of downtime since the truck repair can’t be completed. Which means the shop won’t get paid until later and truck can’t come on road.
But, most important and most costly is the cost of poor customer satisfaction. An unhappy customer usually votes with his feet, or in this case, with his wheels.
Add it all up and these costs can easily cost ten times the cost of the part. A $50 part can cost $500 in associated costs. That hurts everyone’s bottom line. The dealer will pass these costs onto the shop and the shop will pass them along to the fleet. And the fleet will pass them along to the shipper...
So, you ask, how do we minimize ordering or receiving wrong parts? There is no single place that needs to be fixed, but rather, each step along the way has potential for error. Parts catalogs need to be accurate, including descriptions. OE’s must be vigilant to make sure that part number changes are communicated to both their dealers and to the end users. Parts buyers need access to current MMY information so they know what the current part number is. There is no magic, but rather a commitment on everyone’s part to manage part information better.