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Podcast

Preventing Wheel-Offs and Saving Lives with STEMCO

Learn how the Auto-Torq by STEMCO helps to prevent wheel-offs and save lives.

Episode 260: Recently we attended the Technology and Maintenance Council’s Annual Meeting in Orlando Florida. One of the things we love about attending one of these shows is the opportunity to talk to suppliers making innovative and new products.

In this episode, we had a chance to stop by the STEMCO booth, where we got to see a new product that they’ve developed that is focused on preventing wheel-offs, lowering the cost of operation, and saving lives.

  • Josh Kucera is the Senior Engineer & Project Manager of Auto-Torq at STEMCO.
  • Todd DiMascio is the Director of OEM and Strategic Fleet Sales at STEMCO.
Learn how the Auto-Torq by STEMCO helps to prevent wheel-offs and save lives.

Guest Website: STEMCO.com

Register to Be Notified When Auto-Torq is Available: STEMCO.com/Auto-Torq-Registration/

Learn More About Auto-Torq: Click Here

Watch the Video Version

Disclaimer: This content and description may contain affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, The Heavy-Duty Parts Report may receive a small commission.

Sponsors of this Episode:

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Transcript of Episode:

Jamie Irvine:

You are listening to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine, and this is the show where you get expert advice about heavy-duty parts that keeps trucks and trailers on the road longer while lowering cost per mile. I recently attended the Technology and Maintenance Council’s Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida. One of the things I love about attending these shows is the opportunity to talk to suppliers who are making innovative and new products. I had the chance to stop by the STEMCO booth where I got to see a new product that they’ve developed that is focused on preventing wheel offs, lowering total cost of operation, and saving lives on our public roads. Listen in to my conversation and my time visiting the STEMCO booth where I got to learn about this great new product.

Josh Kucera:

Hey, I’m Josh Kucera. I’m a Senior Engineer and Project Manager of Auto Toque here at STEMCO.

Jamie Irvine:

We’re here at TMC at the annual meeting in Orlando, Florida, and I have the opportunity to visit the STEMCO booth where we’re going to talk about wheel end. Quick story. One of my colleagues is a fleet owner. His name is James Rogers, and he runs a small fleet, eight units. He pulled in for some wheel end service and there was technician error. And as he’s driving down the highway afterwards, people are flashing their lights. One of the rear wheels on the trailer was literally on fire and it was almost a wheel off situation. So let’s talk about that problem. That’s just one example. I’m sure in your role you’ve seen this many times.

Josh Kucera:

Yeah. So I’ve actually been in the room for some of those failure investigations that involve wheel offs. It’s not fun for anybody in the room. There’s not a single person there that wants that to happen. So anything we can do to prevent it, we’re going to do it.

Jamie Irvine:

Right. And when you look at wheel end maintenance and repair, there’s a lot of complexity there. There’s a lot of parts and there’s a lot to it. And it’s very easy for a technician to make a mistake. So what is STEMCO doing to try to address that issue with the products that you’re manufacturing?

Josh Kucera:

So a lot of that comes from the issues we see in the market. And one of the main ways that somebody can install a wheel into improperly is by improperly adjusting your bearings. So today the bearing adjustment procedure involves a calibrated torque wrench. A few hours of training for the operators, seems simple enough until you actually do it day after day after day, you get in a rhythm, you get comfortable, sting, things start to slip.

Jamie Irvine:

So right. And complacency is really something that we’re fighting here. And with that many different steps, it’s so easy to make a mistake. And if you are getting into that rhythm, you’re not really thinking about it. You could miss a step and then all of a sudden we got a major problem.

Josh Kucera:

Right. So that’s why we develop the auto torque here because it takes that complexity away, takes your reliance on calibrated tools out of the picture. You don’t have as much operator training involved. It makes it as idiot proof as it can be.

Jamie Irvine:

Well, and back in the day, perhaps people felt that if you were working on heavy equipment, you were of a certain caliber of person. I know there was very few people sitting around the family table saying, oh, I’m so happy that my kids are going into the trucking industry. But this industry has evolved so much from those early days. And in order to be a technician in the industry, you have to be very, very well trained. You need a lot of knowledge and this is not something that is easy to be in. It certainly is complex.

Josh Kucera:

It absolutely is. And to that point, I think there’s a lot of complexity in the wheel end that people kind of take for granted because they assume because it’s been done for so many years that this is just the way that it’s done. And we kind of absorbed that complexity into our training protocols and this being able to take that complexity back out of the wheel end is a huge bonus for our customers.

Jamie Irvine:

Okay. So let’s talk a little bit about how when they implement this system into the wheel end maintenance and repair, how is it going to impact the total cost of operation for the fleet itself?

Josh Kucera:

So one of the side benefits of being able to do the installation, the way that Auto Toque does it is it sets the wheel end into preload, which optimizes your bearing life there. So the upfront cost of the products might come at a little more of a premium, but you’re going to see that payback extend years past that initial installation as your bearings last 10 to 15% longer and you have less problems in that wheel end. And not to mention the risk avoidance that comes with knowing you’ve done it properly.

Jamie Irvine:

So 10 to 15% reduction in total cost. When I look at that 10 to 15%, that can’t just be the parts cost, right? Like you said, a little bit more money upfront on the parts. But if you think about the labor, you think about the downtime where the equipment is in the shop and not making money, that number starts to spool up pretty high, doesn’t it?

Josh Kucera:

Right. And then you also factor in the time spent training your technicians here, especially if you’re in a shop that has a high turnover rate, you can bring these people in and get them going and have confidence in their abilities much faster.

Jamie Irvine:

That’s fantastic. Well, thank you for taking some time. I know you’re busy. You’ve got people in the booth right now. It was great talking to you about this. And if people want to learn more about the product, where specifically could they go?

Josh Kucera:

Anywhere at stemco.com. We don’t have it up yet probably, but we’ll have, because this is our initial release here, we’ll have a very colorful splash about just the high level topics here and if they want more, they can reach out.

Jamie Irvine:

All right, perfect. So we’re going to make sure that those links are in the show notes. Josh, thank you so much for Thank you. Taking some time. Appreciate it. We’re going to take a quick break to hear from our sponsors. We’ll be right back. Don’t have a heavy-duty part number and need to look up a part? Go to parts.diesellaptops.com or download the app on Apple or Android to create your free account. Looking for high quality fuel injection for heavy-duty applications? Having one supplier for fuel injection allows you to better serve customers by providing them with a complete line which increases your sales and profitability. Learn more at ambacinternational.com/aftermarket. Parts availability and quality have a big influence on fleets and owner operators’ total cost of operation. If they can’t find a part, it means more downtime. If they install a low quality part and it fails, it means even more costs like tow bills, hotels, meals for the driver, and lost revenue. That’s why we recommend Sampa. They manufacture a wide range of advanced parts for commercial vehicles. Their website has an intelligent product search engine, and broad coverage of suspension, steering, and fifth wheel components. Expect More. Expect Sampa. Visit sampa.com today.

Todd DiMascio:

Hi, good morning. My name’s Todd Damasio with STEMCO. I’m the director of our OEM and National Fleet team.

Jamie Irvine:

Thanks for taking some time to speak with me. It’s great. We’re here at TMC. We’re at the annual meeting. We’re at the STEMCO booth. We were just talking about this new product that you’ve developed and it’s called Auto Torque correct? And one of the things that I know from the years that I spent selling parts is when you’re in the repair shop, there is a lot of investment in the actual technicians training and getting people up to a standard where they can work on commercial vehicles and those vehicles can go out into the world and they’re safe on public roads. From your perspective, as you develop this product and you’re rolling it out to fleets and you’re rolling it out to repair shops, what impact are you anticipating it going to have on the actual training process with technicians?

Todd DiMascio:

Yeah, so that’s a great question. When we develop this product and all the products that we develop, our mission is to make the roadways safer. And part of the way that we’re doing this with the Auto Torque is we try to design a product that would take a lot of the human error element out of the equation. There’s been a large influx of new technicians into the market of various skill levels, and the beauty of this product is there’s no specific sequence or complex sequence that is required to achieve a reliable, easy installation every time. So in terms of how it helps a fleet or a shop, as long as your technician has a breaker bar and a socket, they can listen for an audible click and the sequence is done.

Jamie Irvine:

So you bring up a good point about the almost changing of the guard that’s happening at the technician level. We know there’s a technician shortage. I think back on all of the great people I knew in the industry that have retired recently, and that seems to be accelerating. So it seems to me that there’s going to be increased pressure at the shop level because you’re going to have to replace these people with 30, 40 years experience and you’re going to have to bring in technicians and maybe you even have to recruit from outside of the industry just to fill these open positions. So I see this as a huge advantage to be able to put a system in place that takes something that’s really complex to your point with a lot of different steps, and now make it so it can be more systematic and repeatable. When it comes to the anticipated impact on the shop, there’s one thing where we want to get equipment’s total cost of operation down, but we also want to bring the cost of the repair shop itself down. How do you see this impacting that?

Todd DiMascio:

Yeah, so the installation of this product takes 30 seconds, so when you’re doing your repair on the road or in a shop, traditional wheel ends take several minutes, 15, 20 minutes to install properly. This Auto Torque product reliably installs in 30 seconds every time, and it just really eliminates a lot of the complex sequences and allows you to know that you’re doing it proper the first time every time.

Jamie Irvine:

Well, and I’m thinking about the time component and you start adding up the wheels, it’s not just the units.

Todd DiMascio:

Labor rate is in incredible these days, and if you can eliminate half the time that you’re typically doing it, the traditional fleet or repair shop, their labor rates $70, $80 or more or more, and you eliminate the majority of that time. There’s your savings right off the top.

Jamie Irvine:

I’m always interested where the concepts for these kinds of products come from. Was this a demand from the fleets and they wanted at an OEM level, is this only going to be available in the aftermarket? How is this product going to roll out?

Todd DiMascio:

So we’re going to have a two, two-pronged approach. We’re working actively with our OEM partners to get OEM position, and we’re taking it directly to the fleet level. The end users, where we feel the most value is and getting their buy-in, we’re going to have it available to them for fleet spec on the OEM and aftermarket repairs. Just driving it through the market that way this week has been phenomenal for us so far. We’ve seen a lot of interest already from repair facilities, like you mentioned, end user fleets over the road fleets. It’s just generated a lot of buzz here and we’re really excited about it.

Jamie Irvine:

Well, that is exciting. I can even think of another sector like the mobile repair. They’re going to love this product, right?

Todd DiMascio:

Yeah. You can have one or two parts on a mobile truck and the confidence going out there that no matter what vehicle you see, you can install this extremely quickly and extremely easy.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah. Well, this is a, sounds like it’s going to be a fantastically successful product for STEMCO. Thank you so much for taking time to talk with me. I really appreciate it.

Todd DiMascio:

Yeah, thank you Jamie. I appreciate it.

Jamie Irvine:

If you would like to buy Auto Torque from STEMCO, head over to stemco.com/auto-torque-registration. Links are in the show notes. You will be notified when Auto Torque is available. We’ve also included a link to the updated product page to learn more. Head over to heavydutypartsreport.com/autotorque today.

Thank you so much for listening to today’s episode. I hope you’re enjoying these interviews from TMC. We’ve got a few more coming for you. Head over to HeavyDutyPartsReport.com and follow the show. That’ll sign you up for our weekly email where you will never miss out on any of our content.

If you like watching the videos, you can always subscribe to our YouTube channel and you can follow us for free wherever you get your podcasts. If you haven’t already, head over to the show notes and check out our sponsors. Without their support, the show would not be possible.

Thank you for listening to The Heavy Duty Parts Report and as always, Be Heavy Duty.

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