Podcast Interviews

Pay More Attention to Preventative Aftertreatment Maintenance

Learn why preventative maintenance is so important for your aftertreatment system.

DPFAUTHORITY, your DPF, and aftertreatment experts.

Episode 110: In this episode, we discuss the importance of preventative maintenance for your aftertreatment system.  Our guests this episode is Paul Marek, Co-Founder of Superior Diesel Companies, and Bill McLaury, the Operations Manager at DPFAuthority.com.

To learn more, go to  DPFAuthority.com

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Complete Transcript of Episode:

Jamie Irvine:

You’re listening to the Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine. And this is the show where you get expert advice about the heavy-duty parts you buy and sell, and keep you informed about what’s happening in the industry. Vehicle owners of commercial vehicles with diesel engines, know how much disruption is caused when a truck breaks down because of a diesel emission system failure, it’s a very costly event, it creates a lot of frustration and unfortunately over the 15 years or so that the diesel emission system has been with us, it hasn’t necessarily gotten a whole lot better. So what is the solution? Well, I’d like to introduce you to Paul Marek who’s the co-founder and Bill McLaury, who is the operations manager at DPF Authority.com. And we’re going to introduce you to this part of their company, as well as the other branches of their company. And they’re here to today to really talk to us about how important it is to pay attention to the preventative side of aftertreatment maintenance. So I’m really excited to talk to them. Paul, thank you so much for coming on the show today. I’m glad to have you with us. And Bill, nice to have you here. Thanks for taking some time to talk to us.

Bill McLaury:

Thanks for including us.

Jamie Irvine:

So I’d like to kind of start the conversation off by reading you something that I got directly from your website and one of your articles. It says, strictly speaking, diesel particulate filters, DPFs, DOCs, SCRs, and their associated hardware have proven pretty reliable over time. Now that statement got my attention because what came next talking about preventative maintenance was really the point that you were getting at. So if it is true that the actual technology behind the hardware is pretty reliable. Why Bill is there so much trouble with the diesel emission system?

Bill McLaury:

Well, I say it really comes down to lack of knowledge of the owners for the most part. You’d be amazed even to this day how few people understand that there’s even a urea filter that needs to be changed. You know, mileage stipulations for servicing, understanding the quality of fuel. It’s really, it comes down to knowing what will prevent failure.

Jamie Irvine:

And Paul you’re co-founder of this company. Obviously, at some point you saw a big enough need in the industry to invest resources into developing DPF authority.com. So what was the big motivation behind that move?

Paul Marek:

I firmly believe in technology and recognizing this new technology coming out, we bought the equipment years ago, knowing that there would be a market, right now as diesel, could be electric in the future, but right now it’s diesel and it’s aftertreatment. So just seeing that need is what got us started.

Jamie Irvine:

There’s nothing wrong with a business plan built around servicing needs. And we’re going to talk a little bit later about all the different aspects of your company. But when we talk about how you got the company started, how many years total has your organization been helping people with diesel engines?

Paul Marek:

Approximately 43 years.

Jamie Irvine:

Forty-three years young. So you’ve learned a few things over that time.

Paul Marek:

Growing up in the Southwest Detroit area, just building diesel engines and cleaning parts and grinding valves and building cylinder heads. I wasn’t even a teenager yet doing that. So yes, it goes back a long ways.

Jamie Irvine:

And there’s been a lot of changes since the days of when everything was mechanical. But Bill, I’m kind of curious from your perspective, I know that you’ve got a lot of experience on the aftertreatment side. Let’s break down the solution. When we talk about preventative aftertreatment maintenance, what are we actually talking about when we use those words?

Bill McLaury:

Well, honestly, I think that oftentimes what’s forgotten is it’s not even so much the treatment devices themselves, it’s the exhaust going through the treatment devices, which means it comes down to engine maintenance, oil changes in quality of fuel. You know, tune ups, not necessarily so much tune ups anymore with electronic engines, but the condition of fuel injectors and pumps and all those things that are creating poor combustion which leads to loaded up DPF’s and DOCs and downtime and uptime problems and not to mention air filtration. So I think people forget about that and fuel especially, we found in Michigan with winter cold climates nothing more inefficient potentially than a cold diesel engine and a white unburned fuel passing through exhaust systems. You’re not going to be on the road long.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah, absolutely. You know, as you were talking, I was thinking back to the days when I was in a cooperative automotive program, it was like a cooperative education with local businesses. So I was still in high school and I got to work in a repair shop. And I remember my instructor, the owner of the shop, and he was talking about how important it is on an automotive vehicle to change your oil regularly, change your filters and everything was all built around mileage, right? Change your oil filter every so many miles, change your air filter so many miles, things like that. One thing that we know about operating commercial vehicles with diesel engines is that when these treatment systems were developed, everything was built around mileage recommendations, especially around the DPF. But when I was reading your article, one thing that I noticed is that that’s actually part of the problem. So Bill, could you tell us a little bit more about what kinds of things should cue regular maintenance on aftertreatment systems, as opposed to just relying on a specific mileage?

Bill McLaury:

Well, yeah, I mean, really, it depends on if the word is the idiosyncrasies or the differences in the piece of equipment and obviously a bus that spends most of its day starting and stopping, rarely reaching speeds above 30 to 35 miles an hour, rarely making the engine temps necessary to keep an exhaust system clean as compared to the over road driver who’s always running a load, always running hot and rarely have to go in any type of a regen situation because of the fact that he’s got hot exhaust temps, and there’s nothing better for an exhaust treatment system than keeping your exhaust temps high. So that’s really, it depends on the location of the vehicle. School buses, those are the customers that, are in constant need of support, whether it be cleaning or replacement because of the fact that the conditions are cold engines, rarely reaching exhaust temps.

Jamie Irvine:

Vocation is such an important piece to that puzzle. I remember when I was a sales account manager, selling heavy-duty parts in Northern Canada and also in the Vancouver area. I mean, you couldn’t get much different Northern Canada, it’s oil field, it’s logging, it’s mining. Then you go to like the urban center in Vancouver and you’re selling to gravel trucks, but they never leave the city, or municipal vehicles that are start and stop, school buses, things like that. So really what you’re saying is that you have to build a preventative maintenance program that fits the application, not just the vehicle, but also what the vehicle does.

Bill McLaury:

Absolutely. And most larger fleets now will be logging or cataloging when DPFs and DOCs are coming off for cleaning. So they’re going to get a pretty good idea, usually even by engine or chassis because I suppose that will make a difference as well, horsepower. But how long these units are going before they’re necessarily have to be brought in for cleaning. You know, if they don’t have a maintenance program, boy, they really have to be in the dark.

Jamie Irvine:

We’re going to take a quick break. We’ll be right back. This episode is sponsored by DPFXFit a manufacturer of DPFs and DOCs that offer OEM durability and performance with aftermarket affordability. To learn more, go to DPFXfit.com. Before the break, we were talking about the importance of having a customized aftertreatment maintenance plan that fits not just the application of the vehicle, but also the vocation. I’d like to now talk a little bit about DPF Authority.com. Paul, when people go to this website, what are they going to find?

Paul Marek:

They’re going to find solutions to their problems. Finding the clamps, the gaskets, the DOCs or DPFs Tools to remove the sensors. Sensors availability, all those things that might need to service that DPF could be found on DPF Authority.

Jamie Irvine:

It’s so much more than just buying a replacement DPF, isn’t it?

Paul Marek:

Yes. In addition to we have people on staff that can answer questions. So everybody always has a question. That’s probably the most important thing about separates us from everyone else. Everyone has questions they don’t understand. We take the time to help people solve a problem. We don’t just want to sell a DPF. We want to solve the problem. The sale will happen it’ll take care of itself, but solving the problems for customers is probably the first things we could be something else and they’re chasing the wrong problem, blaming a DPF when it’s completely something else, a sensor.

Jamie Irvine:

How long has DPF authority.com been part of your company? I know that your entire company started over 43 years ago, but Bill, how long has the website been up and running?

Paul Marek:

It’s been about 4 years, we recognize this need to get this information out to the public.

Jamie Irvine:

Right? So you launched the website about four years ago. And one thing I noticed is you’ve got the ability for people to do searches and interchanges. How important is that function on the website Bill?

Bill McLaury:

Well, I mean, obviously, you know almost a silly game that we have to play with the OE. Because oftentimes everybody feels those cross-references and interchanges is something they do to keep the aftermarket on their toes. So we more importantly than anything else is understanding supersessions and knowing what that final end number is that you need and whether it’s correct or not to match, they may look identical, but there’s always concerned that they’re not identical. So offering people the ability to solve those cross-references and supersessions and interchanges,

Jamie Irvine:

We’ve all been in the business for a long time. I’m used to the aftermarket where there’s 1 OE number and there’s many, many aftermarket options. And it almost feels with aftertreatment, it’s like the reverse, you see a tag and there’s like one aftermarket number and then there’s like six or seven different OE numbers because of that constant changing of numbers, keeping on top of that data is a real full-time job.

Bill McLaury:

It is a full-time job.

Jamie Irvine:

Another thing I noticed about the structure of the website is that it’s very focused on e-commerce. Why did you choose to go in that direction over the traditional sites that we mostly see in heavy-duty?

Bill McLaury:

I think that buying practices have changed and our customers are comfortable with it. It’s what they’re looking for. The business is getting younger and younger people want to point and click. We’re a busy society and people want to move fast and they know what they want. We want to be able to solve that solution and make that sale.

Jamie Irvine:

I think it’s a brilliant move because like you said, buying habits are changing. And I know that all my mentors, like one after another are retiring fast, all the people that I kind of grew up in the industry that trained me and taught me that they’re all leaving and there’s not as many young people to replace them. So you have this big kind of massive problem with all of these different facets, right? You’ve more people leaving the industry than coming in. You’ve got a lot of confusion about aftertreatment. You’ve got the people who are left behind are expected to do more just to service the customers. And so adding this, Paul, it doesn’t completely replace the traditional ways that we service customers, but it really compliments it doesn’t it?

Paul Marek:

Absolutely, I think you just mentioned that a lot of experienced and talented people are leaving the field and being replaced by those who just know about clicking an order. And we need to make sure that we keep up with that generation of people who are clicking. They could be next door, but they’re not going to send their driver, they’re going to click and expect it to be on the counter when they show up. So it’s just having that ability of e-commerce is a way to do it, to keep up with everyone else.

Jamie Irvine:

I know a technology guy who said, “Jamie, when it comes to the heavy-duty industry, you guys either need to learn Amazon’s business, or Amazon’s going to learn your business. And it’s kind of up to you how that goes. “So I’m always celebrating any company that has taken the approach to integrate a digital sales channel. Good for you. So remember, if you want to buy these parts, you can go to DPF Authority.com, but I also noticed on the website that you offer cleaning of DPFs. So can you just talk me through the process there of how that would work?

Bill McLaury:

Yeah, I mean, we offer the traditional bake and blow method like most. I think everybody’s gotten pretty good at servicing DPFs, it’s been long enough. Pin testing, all looking for crack cores, weighing before and after automated baking, cool down and then extraction, and our equipment has the cameras that you can see the media it’s being extracted.

Jamie Irvine:

We’re just going to take a quick break, we’ll be right back. This episode is sponsored by DPFX Fit a manufacturer of DPFs and DOCs that offer OEM durability and performance with aftermarket affordability. To learn more, go to DPFXfit.com. We’re back from our break. And before the break, we were learning all about DPF Authority.com, how they service their customers, how they’ve gone with a digital sales channel to better serve their customers. And I really was curious, Bill on the website, I saw that you also have an exchange program, and I wanted to learn more about how that exchange program would work since your website is so focused on e-commerce?

Bill McLaury:

Exchange may not be quite the right term. What we found was really a great impetus for business in getting people to trust your cleaning methods and trust your product. We decided that we were going to buy a DPF or get your DPF cleaned for free. And so that got people not only to experience a new product and trust the aftermarket product, but also to see after the DPS has been cleaned what it looked like. I think that that was, if there was one thing that we did in a sales or marketing, that was the one thing that really spurred growth.

Jamie Irvine:

What a great idea, because one of the things that I’ve seen is this real emphasis on uptime. And so if you can get into a DPF that is brand new, you can install it on your truck. You can have the other one clean. Now you’ve got a backup. Now you don’t have to worry about when this thing needs to be cleaned,’ I’m going to be down for a day.’ And I just think that was obviously customers rewarded you by, like you said, it really fueled growth because that was a really smart move. So, Paul, you alluded to the fact that your parent company that has been in business for 43 years, DPF Authority.com has been up and running now for four years, I’d like to learn a little bit more about the other areas of servicing diesel trucks that you can help your customers with.

Paul Marek:

So we started with Superior Diesel Repair was the original company name. We brought in Superior Turbo Injection five years after being in business to let people know we did all turbos for cars, for trucks, for boats, because some people thought we just worked on diesels. So Superior Diesel Repair is the parent company, is the original name. And it just helped grow that fuel injection business. And we do feel injectors with turbochargers, fan clutches, and other related components. So we broke the business in half, basically. So a diesel repair, which is class eight and down of all diesel engines and then we have parts distribution, which we have going right here.

Jamie Irvine:

So as Superior Solution for everything under the hood, when you talk about fan clutches, what are you talking about, are you rebuilding them? Are you just replacing them and supplying parts and kits? Or what work do you do with fan clutches? I’m kind of partial to that because when I started my career back in 98, I was working for a remanufacturer and fan clutches and kits were one of the things that we did. So I’d like to learn a little bit more about that.

Paul Marek:

Well, it’s funny you ask, but fan clutches it was kind of became my specialty. We kind of split up product lines here and we do all fan clutches, air, viscous, they break and people need to fix them. So we do rebuild a fan clutches. We offer many rebuilds. In fact, something we pride in having as many rebuilds or in some cases the new ones available, but we also offer the same day, same hour service. If you had a truck with an unusual fan clutch on it you bring in, we’re willing to rebuild it right now, whether it’s three o’clock, four o’clock to get that truck back on the road. That’s something we pride ourselves in doing is like you say saving uptime. Sometimes you can’t prevent a truck from going down, but getting that fan clutch turned around ASAP on the side of the road is something that’s got to happen, that truck cannot sit there. That load’s just in time, it must roll. So I mean being able to repair them on the spot, all options and something that people don’t think about, but the fan blades attached to that, we have probably a thousand fan blades in stock, we custom cut to size and balance here, you know, improved by the OEs naturally, so we can make 10,000 variations of fan blades for absolutely any piece of equipment in addition to road trucks.

Jamie Irvine:

Right and when a fan clutch goes down, it oftentimes can be an inconvenience all the way up to a catastrophic failure that takes out like you say, the fan blade, it could take out the rad, it can be a big deal. So having that flexibility and ability to rebuild, whatever unit comes down, whether it’s air or viscous, to be able to change the fan blade, I see how that your customers must just love that service.

Paul Marek:

It is a great service and having people at the counter able to understand the problem, why they failed, if there’s a warranty failure, it’s usually misunderstood. The first thing we do is blame the part. When you see two or three failed, we try to explain, again, it goes back to our core of our business, work with the customer, learn the problem, trying to get it replaced the first time. You know, we really try to help them out when something goes wrong, but it could be a valve and airline, just many variables in why something would fail. Given all the right ingredients, they’ll last for many, many years, just like say having that expertise and help that customer figure out his problem and fixing it the right way the first time.

Bill McLaury:

You know, one of the most unique things I think in regards to our parts and services on the fan clutch side is that, you know, 99% of what we sell is aftermarket OE. I mean, oftentimes, you know, people are always concerned about aftermarket parts, either off shore or will fit. And we’re selling the exact OE duplicate, either whether it be kits or internals or complete assemblies installed on that engine the day it left the shop and left the factory, whether it’d be Horton, Herbert Warner, and that’s what you receive when you buy from us and usually pricing that’s unparalleled and inventory that’s incredible. You know, we have hundreds, thousands of fan clutches in stock and thousands of blades. I mean, I would list us as probably one of the top two or three premier aftermarket suppliers of fan clutches and blades in the country.

Paul Marek:

And not to mention that I own the domain fanclutch.com. So we service, because of that site, which had been going about 15 years, we’ve got customers worldwide buying fan clutches from us. Fan clutches that have been obsoleted or discontinued, and we actually make clutches or make adapters and find other clutches that work and make some kits for the OE. And it’s something that we’ve been doing for years.

Jamie Irvine:

So regardless of whether it’s turbo, fuel injection, fan clutches, aftertreatment system, you know you guys have really touched on a couple of the really important things, right? One, having the great products available, having a good solid service, but also helping customers to be able to identify the cause of the problem and not just the, so in everything I’m hearing from you, I can just hear that is kind of part of the underpinning of everything that you do. So if you were going to leave, Bill, I’m going to throw this to you first, if you, if you’re going to leave our audience with just one thing about aftertreatment, that you want them to make sure they take away from today’s conversation what’s that one thing?

Bill McLaury:

Absolutely maintenance and quality of fuel and quality of the operating engine. People just can’t grasp that a poorly running engine is going to lead to a lot of money in the aftertreatment side of the system and it’s silly, it’s sad and it’s wasteful.

Jamie Irvine:

And Paul, you’re someone who’s been in this world for over four decades, drop some value for us, what’s one thing you want people to remember from all the years that you’ve been in this business. What’s the most important thing people need to remember?

Paul Marek:

Our product is more OE than what they actually sell, but buying the right one the first time and get the correct information the first time and buying once instead of buying the wrong one, and then finding us afterwards, get the right product the first time.

Jamie Irvine:

You’ve been listening to the Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine. We’ve been speaking with Paul Marek, the co-founder of Superior, the parent company of DPF Authority.com. And we’ve been also talking with Bill McLaury, who is the operations manager. Paul, thank you so much for being on the show today.

Paul Marek:

Thank you.

Jamie Irvine:

Bill, thank you as well for sharing your expertise, I really appreciate it.

Bill McLaury:

So glad to be here.

Jamie Irvine:

Thank you so much for tuning into this week’s episode of the Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine. And I’d just like to remind everyone to focus on cost-per-mile and let’s keep those trucks and trailers rolling. You can watch our next video, make sure to click the like button, write a comment, and don’t forget to subscribe.

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