Genuine vs. will-fit parts?

A major Middle East aggregate mining customer with a fleet containing over 150 K-Series Cummins engines has been convinced to switch to Cummins genuine parts after a comparative engine test revealed that the former extended engine life by up to 90% compared to will-fit parts.

So-called ‘will-fit’ products are components sold as replacement rather than non-genuine parts. A lack of awareness among customers in the Africa and Middle East region about the benefits of using Cummins genuine parts only has resulted in a plethora of will-fit distributors muscling into the aftermarket, according to Mornay Annandale, New & Recon Parts Marketing Director, Cummins Africa Middle East.

The main reason cited for using will-fit components is to reduce costs, even though this ultimately compromises the engine’s lifespan. Customers are often unaware that, not only are they not getting the maximum performance out of the engines, but that future maintenance costs are also increased.

“This particular mining customer was aware of Cummins genuine parts, but decided to go the will-fit route as its engines continued to perform well enough,” Annandale explains. The Cummins channel partner in that region, which had forged a long-standing relationship with the client, then approached it about the issue. “It is very important when dealing with the aftermarket to establish initial client trust, which levels the playing field and allows us, as the engine manufacturer, to address such issues.”

Cummins decided to deal with the approach in a highly proactive and innovative manner by first ensuring that proper maintenance practices were followed, secondly that technicians were properly trained, and lastly to convince the customer to run a comparative engine test to compare the results.

“We informed the client that, not only could we supply genuine parts at a market-based cost, but that the next time a major asset such as a load-haul dump (LHD) truck had to be overhauled, to rebuild it using Cummins genuine parts only, and then to run a similar LHD truck with its current will-fit solution, and compare the verified results,” Annandale elaborates.

As part of a two-pronged strategy, Cummins also provided the clients’ technicians with best-practice maintenance training. “It is not sufficient just to standardise on genuine parts, but these also have to be installed correctly, and according to proper specifications. We are finding, increasingly, that such training is essential in the Africa and Middle East region, where there tends to be a shortage of technical expertise,” Annandale asserts.

So successful was the comparative test that, upon rebuild, it became apparent that the genuine parts extended the total engine life by up to 90%. “This is a stark illustration of the fact that, when clients incur an upfront investment in the latest technology from Cummins, it is only going to deliver the results it has been designed for if genuine parts are used,” Annandale warns.

Because of Cummins’ successful intervention and training programme, the customer has since switched over to genuine parts only for its entire fleet. The Parts Marketing Team hopes to approach other customers in a range of industries, from power generation to construction and marine, to run similar comparative engine tests so as to educate both end users and technicians.

“The success of this approach is that we effectively place ourselves in our clients’ shoes, and ask: How can they make the most out of their investment in Cummins technology? How can we help them be more successful and profitable in their core business?

“However, we must accept that this is not an entitlement. We cannot sell an engine, and then wait for the client to come knocking on our door in terms of its maintenance requirements. We must be able to demonstrate the advantages to them in black-and-white figures, and to educate them about best practice in all aspects of their business.”

What gives Cummins the leading edge in this regard in Africa and the Middle East is that it has the necessary logistics infrastructure and footprint to be able to meet the demand for Aftermarket Parts and Training throughout the continent. “What it all boils down to at the end of the day is how can we assist our customers in reducing their total cost of ownership. The first, and most obvious, step is to use Cummins genuine parts only,” Annandale concludes.