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Podcast

AAPEX22: Refrigerant and Engine Cooling Parts

Learn about the recent, and upcoming changes regarding refrigerant, what’s going on in the industry, and the proper way to diagnose and repair cooling components on diesel trucks.

Episode 237: We recently attended AAPEX 2022 in Las Vegas. While there, we were able to talk to subject matter experts in the heavy-duty industry. In this episode, we talk about two specific areas of interest: refrigerant, and cooling components.

Our Guests today are:

Christina Spalding is the Business Development Manager at Chemours. In this episode, we talk about two specific areas of interest: refrigerant, and cooling components.
Sean Givnish, the President at ProParts. In this episode, we talk about two specific areas of interest: refrigerant, and cooling components.

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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 heavy-duty parts that keeps trucks and trailers on the road longer while lowering cost-per-mile.

I recently attended AAPEX SEMA in Las Vegas. The show was well attended, far better than last year due to the travel restrictions not being as tight as they were last year. So we saw a lot of international guests and just really great opportunity for the industry to come together, both the trucking and the automotive sector. While I was at AAPEX, I got a chance to talk to some experts, some real subject matter experts, and I’m really excited about sharing those interviews with you over the next three weeks.

This week we’re gonna talk about two specific areas, refrigerant, what’s happening with EPA regulations, what you need to know about the changes to refrigerant. And the second thing we’re gonna talk about is diagnosing and repairing cooling components on commercial trucks. So I had to find a couple industry experts. The first expert that I talked to was Christina Spalding.

She’s the Business Development Manager at the Chemours company. If you don’t know that company, they invented freon. So this is the company that really knows refrigerant, and my interview with Christina was excellent. She packed so much information into such a short conversation, so you’ve gotta really pay close attention because it’s pretty fast paced and there’s a lot of really good information there that you need to know.

Then I talked to Sean, small business entrepreneur who made the leap three years ago to start his own company. His company is Pro Parts and they specialize in cooling products, and we talked quite a bit about the importance of looking at the entire system when diagnosing and repairing cooling issue. So I hope you enjoy this interview, these two interviews from live from the floor of the AAPEX SEMA show.

Christina, welcome to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. So glad to have you here.

Christina Spalding:

Thank you, Jamie.

Jamie Irvine:

It’s nice that you’re treating us to your booth today. We’re at Apex and there’s so many people this year at the show. It’s been fantastic. What are the overarching trends with refrigerants that you’ve been talking to people here at the show?

Christina Spalding:

No, that’s a really good question. So in the refrigerant world, both globally and in the United States, refrigerant regulations are really driving a lot of change in our industry. And so from a global perspective, the Kigali amendment is being ratified by many countries.

The US just recently ratified that as well. But also in the US we have ratified and enacted the AIM Act and that essentially gives the EPA the authority to phase down refrigerants like our 134 A, which is a predominant refrigerant, both in light duty and obviously in heavy duty space for comfort cooling among everyone in the industry.

So we’ve really been talking about what that phase down’s gonna look like and what’s gonna be coming down the pike. On the light duty side of things, they’ve already transitioned to a replacement refrigerant 1234 yf, but that’s what’s gonna be coming to the heavy-duty market down the road.

Jamie Irvine:

And I’m sure that like myself, when we first met, and you were explaining some of that, to me, this is news to a lot of people. So there is an educational need there, isn’t there?

Christina Spalding:

Yeah, absolutely. I think in terms of the market, what they’ve seen in the first year of the AIM Act is that 134 a pricing has been a little bit volatile, and that’s because the industry took a 10% step down from the baseline in 2022.

The next step down occurs in 2024, where we’re gonna be 40% below baseline, and then another step down takes place in 2028 where the industry’s gonna be 60% below baseline. So those reductions from the baseline in terms of CO2 allocations, impact product availability and product pricing. So that’s really been the first year for the US and it’s really the first transition the automotive aftermarket has seen around refrigerant in over 30 years.

Jamie Irvine:

And from the commercial point of view, everything is about cost for mile, total cost of operation. So this has been a really stable product category for a very long time, and now all of a sudden we’re seeing, like you say, that volatility and price. So that phase down approach, does that impact the number of units? If you have a mixed fleet, for example, and you’ve got an older fleet, are you now expected to do some sort of retrofit like they had to do back in the days of aftertreatment?

Christina Spalding:

Yeah, that’s a great question. So today, there really is no EPA approved retrofit product for 134 A neither in light duty or in heavy duty. The way the face down is designed, it’s taking place over 16 years. So if you think about the light duty fleet every year, cars are retired each year, and that decreases the demand for 134 A and the light duty fleet. So while the heavy duty fleet is gonna be dependent upon 134 A little bit longer, every time that reduction and that retirement rate occurs, it sort of frees up more CO2 equivalents to be used in other segments like heavy duty.

What you also have in the light duty space is every year more and more cars are coming off the assembly line with yf. So the dependence continues to decrease in light duty making product available and heavy-duty. But in terms of what you see in a regulatory environment, like a phase down is as 134 A becomes less available, typically see more and more price volatility, it drives the price of 134 A up and it will enable heavy duty OEMs and equipment manufacturers to start to see a more financial reason to convert to something like 1234 yf.

Jamie Irvine:

So what we’ll see is we’ll see as new trucks being made, they’re gonna have this new standard and that technology will be on those trucks. So as anybody who’s repaired trucks for a while knows that when there’s a change in technology, there’s a bit of a learning curve there as well. So what would you say to the people who are going to have to maintain and repair these new systems?

Christina Spalding:

Well, the good news is the new systems will be designed for the new refrigerant. So they’ll have maybe an additional internal heat exchanger. They’ll have the correct elastomers. Really, the biggest difference in terms of maintaining a vehicle, whether it’s a truck or a car using yf, is it’s left-handed threads. And the reason they’re using left-handed threads is they don’t want anyone to mix 134 A with YF and a new recovery machine.

So the industry’s very accustomed to our machines that are designed for 134 A, just need to get a second machine that’s designed for yf. And that’s what we’re seeing in the commercial space for light duty is typically most shops will have two machines, one’s dedicated to yf, one’s dedicated to 134 A, but basically the mechanics are essentially the same because the fluids are very similar. It’s very similar capacity, very similar energy efficiencies. And so there’s not a lot of retooling or new design that’s needed outside of some compatibility elastomers with the new refrigerant.

Jamie Irvine:

Okay, well that makes a lot of sense. So technicians can take a sigh of relief. Now, what about parts people, when it comes to these new parts, and obviously there’s that three year to five year with warranty, but then after that the independent’s gonna have to do that. So what’s gonna happen when it comes to finding replacement parts for these new systems?

Christina Spalding:

Well, the great news is that YF has been on the market in the light duty space since 2013. Once we hit 2017, about 90% of all the cars that are manufactured are using yf. So the component manufacturers are very familiar with yf. They’re gonna be ready for this transition when it takes place. They already are familiar with the compatibility requirements, so it really should be a very smooth transition in heavy-duty because it was kind of pressure tested in light, light duty.

Jamie Irvine:

Right. So more good news. One of the other things that I was immediately curious about is there’s a little bit of a black box around the move to electrified vehicles and there’s still a lot of unknowns as to how it’s actually gonna come down in maintenance and repair and needs for cooling. So what about a fleet that’s gonna be mixed? You can imagine they’ve got older trucks, they’ve got some brand new trucks that are ICE, and then they also have electric.

Christina Spalding:

Yeah, I think the great news is if the converged solution is 1234 yf, then you’re using that in the smaller charge sized vehicles and the larger charge sized vehicles. The thing about EV vehicles is you’re not only using the YF for cabin cooling, you’re also using it for battery thermal management. So these systems are gonna be designed with that in mind. The charge sizes are gonna be a little bit more, but you can use the same fluid for everything. So it would be available pretty well everywhere.

Jamie Irvine:

So if people wanna learn more about this, because this may be the first time they’re hearing about it, what’s the best resource for them to go and learn more?

Christina Spalding:

You can use our website opteon.com. We have a lot of information. We’ve done webinars for the heavy-duty segment We have printed pieces we can share. We have information on yf and of course I’m a resource as well.

Jamie Irvine:

Okay, fantastic. So we’re gonna put those links in the show notes and hopefully people will reach out to you, be able to get some education. Thank you for taking the time to talk with us today and opening up your booth and allowing us to be here today.

Christina Spalding:

Oh, thank you Jamie. Appreciate it.

Jamie Irvine:

We’re gonna take a quick break. We’ll be right back.

Commercial Break:

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Jamie Irvine:

Sean, welcome to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. So glad to have you here.

Sean Givnish:

Thank you very much.

Jamie Irvine:

And we’re at AAPEX, and you’ve invited us into your booth. I really appreciate it. Could you just tell our audience a little bit about your company?

Sean Givnish:

The name of the company is ProParts. We’ve been in business since March of 2020. We handle radiators, condensers, fan assemblies for heavy duty and light trucks.

Jamie Irvine:

Well, like us, we started our consulting business at the beginning of January 2020, and we just got started and the pandemic happened.

Sean Givnish:

So we have something in common.

Jamie Irvine:

Now could after though we could talk and I’m sure we’ve got some stories. So your business has been around just coming up three years and the product that you focus on, give us a little description of that.

Sean Givnish:

We handle automotive cooling products and heavy-duty cooling products. That’s pretty much what we specialize in. I’ve been in this business since 1995 for several companies.

Jamie Irvine:

So you’ve got a real background in it. What have you seen as kind of a trend in cooling over the last few years?

Sean Givnish:

Well, the biggest trend of getting back to the pandemic is availability of product. Hopefully we’re coming out of it now, but we really had a hard time in the last two years just filling orders, just getting product in.

Jamie Irvine:

And I mean, it’s one thing if your second vehicle is in the shop and you don’t need it every day for work, but when you’re working with commercial vehicles, those things make money for you. They’re revenue generators, so when they’re down for extended periods of time, it has a big impact on the cost of operation for the fleet. So the parts shortages has been a real challenge. Now, in your business model, who are you selling to and then how does the product get to the end user?

Sean Givnish:

Well, we import the products ourselves and store them in our warehouse. We sell to WD warehouse distributors that specialize in cooling, and we have customers all over the country.

Jamie Irvine:

Fantastic. So when I was selling parts, I would talk to manufacturers and folks like yourself that was bringing product in, and we’d go out into the field and talk to the end users. So as you’re working with your distributors what has been the things that you’ve been talking to them or supporting them on when it comes to helping commercial fleets lower total cost of operation, address maintenance issues, those kinds of things.

Sean Givnish:

Pretty much the service when there’s a failure, get to the root cause, see why the radiator failed. A lot of times the radiator is a symptom of something else. So if we replace the radiator and we don’t check the whole system out, then the chances are you’re gonna have the same problem over again.

Jamie Irvine:

And I mean upstream problems and unscheduled downtime caused by not getting to the root that’s a bad situation for commercial

Sean Givnish:

Fleets. Absolutely, Absolutely.

Jamie Irvine:

One of the studies that I looked at recently is that something like the average roadside event is 750 bucks, and that’s probably on the light side because as soon as you get into hotels and tow trucks and all of that. So what products did you start with and what have you added recently?

Sean Givnish:

We started with radiator condenser and then we added the fan assemblies. And with all these newer vehicles coming into play now, everything being turbo charged, we’ve added the cooler, which is up here. And a lot of vehicles now used to have a radiator, used to have a cooler in the radiator. Now it’s external. So we handle the external transmission coolers as well.

Jamie Irvine:

Do you find that there’s a little bit of a learning curve for parts people and technicians when they start having to service or and replace those parts?

Sean Givnish:

They need to learn how the systems work and what the new technology where the computer requires from the components, why they’re so important for the whole system.

Jamie Irvine:

And it’s again, that entire system to keep vehicles on the road. I know in some of our other episodes that we’ve talked to people about things like after treatment, it’s very similar, right? It’s always looking at the entire system and trucks are getting, especially commercial trucks, they’re getting a lot more complicated than back in the nineties when you and I started the business.

Sean Givnish:

Absolutely, Absolutely. Everything runs off the computer and everything is by code. You have to figure it out. You have to diagnose it with the proper technology.

Jamie Irvine:

So if people wanna learn more about your company, Sean, where should they go?

Sean Givnish:

They can go to www.proparts.com.

Jamie Irvine:

All right. Proparts.com. We’ll make sure the links are in the show notes. And if you want to follow The Heavy-Duty Parts Report for free, go to heavydutypartsreport.com. Sean, thanks for being a guest on our show and thank you for inviting us into your booth.

Sean Givnish:

Thank you very much. Thanks for coming.

Jamie Irvine:

I hope you enjoyed my conversations with both Christina and Sean live from the AAPEX floor. I think my big takeaway from my conversations with both of them is that commercial trucking is going through massive change and there’s a lot of new technology that is driving a lot of changes to the way that commercial trucks are built and the way that they operate.

I think it’s important that we stay up to date with regulatory changes like with refrigerant and the EPA so we understand what’s coming. And as Sean brought out, it’s very important as technology changes on the actual truck, we stay up to date with how to diagnose and repair that by looking at the entire system. So those are my two big takeaways. I hope you enjoyed the conversation. Next week we’re gonna be back with another episode live from the AAPEX Show floor where we’re gonna talk to a whole bunch of people connected to Sampa.

They are a proud sponsor of The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. And we’re gonna talk about suspension, steering and fifth wheel components. And you’re gonna learn a lot about Sampa, who they are, how they’re going to market here in North America, and how they impact their distributors and end-user customers of their product, who buy those parts from those distributors.

So come back next week and that’s what you can look forward to. And then the third week, we will have another AAPEX interview coming with a whole bunch of other information about the critical engine components that you need to think about when you are in the parts and service business, commercial trucking.

Thank you for watching this video. Click here to subscribe to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report YouTube channel, and click here to watch another great episode.

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