Aftermarket manufacturers have gained bad rep recently; however, they are improving their operations and enhancing the quality of the products.
Fremont, CA: Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are both customers and manufacturers in the huge market of parts suppliers. Automakers do not manufacture every part, and thus they use suppliers that specialize in pistons, oil pumps, crankshafts, gaskets, and more, which is more economical. The suppliers are OEM partners that provide the majority of the parts of a vehicle. However, a large number of OE suppliers sell parts for the aftermarket. According to Joel Terry, president of SB International, few of the parts sold to OE customers are slightly different to the aftermarket customers. The differences are metallurgical i.e., small elemental variances in the percentages that form a particular alloy. The reason behind the slight variations is to avoid OE intellectual property infringement without compromising the integrity of the parts.
Experts say that often the products manufactured for the OEs do no translate to their aftermarket line. OEMs have to reverse engineer the products and design them for the aftermarket to provide complete systems. The vice president of engineering and product development for Cloyes, Jason Thompson, says, “We as a company focus on a product type or complete systems in the aftermarket whereas it is one job at a time on the OE side.”
As compared to the OE, the aftermarket has gained a negative reputation as a few companies have taken advantage. Today, however, many aftermarket suppliers manufacture good quality products if not better than OE quality. Still, getting over the negative perception is a prevalent challenge. The entire aftermarket has a negative image. Few aftermarket parts manufacturers and suppliers take shortcuts to keep the margins high. Howev
er, the high cost of paying warranty claims makes the manufacturers produce quality products that are on par with OE service parts. Thompson says that the products in the aftermarket are made with the materials, which are an improvement over OE. The manufacturers find the materials that work better in the aftermarket as they are not always trying to duplicate what precisely the OE does.
The manufacturers also take customer feedback to understand what works well in the aftermarket. Companies that take customers for solutions and improvements into consideration perform better.