Hey Prairie Dawg: “Where are my wear parts?”

Prairie Dawg Practical by Tim Holmberg, DEMI Equipment

Are you wearing yourself out (no pun intended) looking to find the right wear parts for your equipment this year? Sometimes finding all the varied wear parts required for an entire operation can be a challenge you weren’t expecting to take on — especially if needed in a hurry.

I believe this added challenge has been brought about [somewhat] unintentionally by the ability to get onto the “old Interweb” and do a Google search for the alternative options marketing themselves as the best direct prices and delivery. But is it all worth it? You know the old adage states “you usually get what you pay for.” Are you one of those waiting for the day when Amazon can stock it for a 20 percent savings and free shipping — but will it still be worth it?

All joking aside, do the multiple email solicitations from various overseas solicitors — usually representing one common gigantic castings facility— really benefit you in the long run? It would be difficult at best for a single sales contact to provide you with all the necessary serviceability and personalized fitment procedures and recommendations and product engineering expectations that a local dealer provides. The real question is whether these overseas-distributed products are of the same quality and provide proper fitment guarantees we are used to. Or are they not quite right, blemished rejects with porosity and fitment discrepancies that don’t quite meet the quality control expectations you would have received from copyrighted OEM-designed originals? Does the working profile remain the same or, because copyright laws require the generic parts be made ever so slightly different, that it may affect and possibly initiate internal structural damage creating a far costlier repair in the long run?

Slow down and consider theses all-important questions before running out and saving a few bucks up front to make your boss-man happy. Should you still choose to proceed maintaining the “it’s just a wear part” attitude, then please be ready to defend your decision should these parts wear out, break or fail for some other reason prematurely.

I’m not in complete disagreement of using offshore parts alternatives. I would only recommend you carefully do your homework and request an in-person visit from the salesperson for a little added proof that they would like to earn your business and take care of your interests after the sale.

Also, double check with the actual equipment manufacturer you are seeking the alternative wear parts for and inform them of your research findings. They may offer assurance or ramification assessments especially if the warranty period is active or the equipment is under a rental or lease contract requiring factory authorized parts only. The OEM may make some internal assessment suggestions or possibly provide a design specialist to communicate with the new potential provider in order to qualify the product is acceptable and would not interfere in anyway with the warranty.

Let’s flip this coin and discuss the dealer network for wear parts. Does the added value in service and your importance to them after the sale justify their markups? I would believe so. I would also believe it is very difficult for there to be only one source available to any location these days. As long as I have been in the industry, I know there is at minimum 2-3 choices of various offerings in most domestic markets and I would easily suspect that goes for global markets too; therefore extreme price gouging would seem highly unlikely unless production or a known supply shortage was warned as other commodities are subject to.

I also think if the multiple wear parts dealers in your area are keeping inventory readily available, then they should be fairly compensated for this value alone. Most likely they are offering technical assistance and providing a secondary aspect of quality control that often goes unnoticed — especially if since you have done business with this organization there haven’t been any issues — they have been doing their job extremely well. I’m guessing your local dealer also provides a solid voice in warranty issues should the wear part have an actual flaw or performance error versus an operational error. They can make certain the resolution is fair and balanced and possibly some compromise on both parties’ behalf if nothing is easily recognized as an inadequate performance differential.

Lastly, maybe the machine you need the wear parts for is older and you can no longer purchase any current wear parts, for whatever reason, yet you still need something created. Now suddenly these local dealer and aftermarket offshore providers may offer the only solution. By working together they can perhaps create or replicate an old, worn pattern that has become extinct. Since these two entities share a common industry-specific vocabulary, it increases the odds of success for accomplishing this task if they share the risk to create a functioning product — then should anything be not quite right; it would be up to the two of them to get it figured out.

Wear parts are, surprisingly, one of the largest portions of necessary items in our rock and dirt industry and getting these details ironed out can be a bit of a challenge but extremely valuable. So get out there with confidence and get your game plan established.

Please, if you enjoy these random aggregate and quarrying equipment based subjects, tune back in for more topics to come. Send me a subject or topic you would like brought to light and any associated questions you would like to have discussed and I will gladly provide my best answer based upon my specific point of view and personal experience. Questions or Comments? Tim Holmberg prairiedawg@pdpractical.com. Or simply write me a letter and we will send you a t-shirt or ball cap:

Tim Holmberg
2915 Idea Ave.
Aberdeen, SD 57401

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