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Podcast

Under the Hood: Navigating Truck Repair & Tools

Explore the power of simplicity in finding effective solutions, featuring Milton’s clever specialty tools, Krown’s rust protection, and IAT’s reliable AMT clutches.

Episode 270: In this episode, we explore the notion that the best solutions are often the simplest ones. Join us as we delve into the world of parts, tools, and repairs, focusing on the ingenuity and effectiveness of Milton’s specialty tools, Krown’s rust protection solutions, and IAT’s trusted AMT clutches. Discover how these simple yet clever products can make a significant impact on various applications.

Explore the power of simplicity in finding effective solutions, featuring Milton's clever specialty tools, Krown's rust protection, and IAT's reliable AMT clutches.

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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 place where we have conversations that empower heavy-duty people.

The best solutions are often the simplest ones. My name is Jamie Irvine, and on this episode of The Heavy Duty Parts Report, we’re going to talk to three suppliers who are focused on parts, tools and repair. Now I met these suppliers in Denver, Colorado at HDA Truck Pride’s Annual Meeting back in April. Now HDA Truck Pride with their 150 plus members are coming together once a year to be able to provide the independent service and parts people who work for those 150 companies with access to training and information that’s going to help them to succeed in taking care of the trucking industry. Part of that education, of course, is working with suppliers. So let’s get to the interviews, and first up we hear about some simple yet clever specialty tools that’s going to make technicians lives a little bit easier.

Steve Donaldson:

Hi, my name’s Steve Donaldson. I’m a Regional Manager with Milton Industries.

Jamie Irvine:

We’re at HDA Truck Pride’s annual meeting, and we are here with Steve. Steve, you’re a returning guest. We were together last year at HDA Truck Pride. Glad to have you back on the show. Thank you for coming. Thank you. You’ve been in the business now 25 years, 7 years in your current role, what are you showing people who are part of the HDA Truck Pride group at your booth?

Steve Donaldson:

Well, Milton’s over the last couple years have been acquiring various different companies. We’re kind of trying to make ourselves the specialty hand tool people. So we started out with Z line, and I know this is a simple grease gun, but we’ve got all sorts of fluid handling with items in the Z line tanks, barrel pumps, drains just about everything that you would need for the fluid handling stuff.

Jamie Irvine:

So this tool, you’re greasing things, this is all part of regular maintenance, right? So when you’re selling these tools to a customer, I mean obviously this is basic maintenance. They know what they’re doing. Right. But what are the kinds of things you need to give the customer a little education on when it comes to a product like this? Because obviously they’re not all manufactured equally.

Steve Donaldson:

That’s correct. We have added a balloon style piston inside here, so it gets you better adherence to either the tubes or if you can bulk fill this as well too. So it allows you to get all of the grease out of the tubes and acts for an easier motion. So we do have this in lever and pistol grip as well too. We do have a really smooth piston inside there.

Jamie Irvine:

So it’s all about the piston. It’s the balloon to make sure that you get all the grease out of there. Right. Again, one of my mentors always told me, sell ’em what they need, not just what they ask for. So if I’m a pars person and I’m selling this gun to somebody, what are the other products I should be selling along with it? Right. Obviously the grease.

Steve Donaldson:

Obviously the grease.

Jamie Irvine:

Anything else you can think of?

Steve Donaldson:

With this style grease gun, it comes with a solid tube and this flexible tube. So as far as greasing, you pretty much got everything that you need in the kit.

Jamie Irvine:

And are those individual parts replaceable if you damage it or lose it or something?

Steve Donaldson:

The chucks are and the tubing and the hoses are all replaceable items.

Jamie Irvine:

Okay, sounds good. Okay, so that’s one tool down. Let’s talk about another tool. So I have gotten more education around diesel emission systems in the few years I’ve done The Heavy Duty Parts Report before than ever before because when I was selling parts, there really was no diesel emission system. So what is this tool? What is it used for?

Steve Donaldson:

Another one of the companies that we purchased is LTI and they developed a system called the Shocket System. Basically all of their tools in the Shocket line use this very unique punch, and all of the tools have this dimple inside the tools and it allows you to use your air hammer and allows you to use sonic vibration to release the items. If you’ve got a stuck bolt, we’ve got crows foot for that, but this particular kit is for diesel NOx sensors. Okay. We’ve got the various sizes in here, even the deeper ones, so we’re hard to get in places. And again, it’s just as simple as hook, hooking that up to your air hammer and running it around and loosening that up.

Jamie Irvine:

This is important because with NOx sensors, if that is become corroded and if the NOx sensor breaks off, all of a sudden a relatively small repair becomes a big problem.

Steve Donaldson:

Correct. And what happens if you put a regular wrench on it, and a lot of times you can’t put a socket on it because of the wiring to it. So if you put a regular wrench on it and just try and use your brute force, you will tend to twist stuff with using the air hammer. That sonic vibration slowly loosens that up and jiggles all of the corrosion and the various metals adhere to each other after heating and cooling and all that stuff.

Jamie Irvine:

So this is specifically designed for NOx, but is this technology used for any bolt?

Steve Donaldson:

Yes. Yes, we have. If you come by the booth, you can see we’ve got crow’s foot versions of this and SAE metric all the way up to two and a half inches and 55 millimeters. And then we also have tubing wrench versions of it as well too. So you can use it just about anywhere. It’s really big in the hydraulic industry. A lot of times it’s not so much that it’s stuck on, but it’s in a hard to reach place where a little crow’s foot you can put in there. And then we have various links of punches that you can go in and can take and loosen that up.

Jamie Irvine:

And I’m right away, I’m thinking of things like suspension, I’m thinking of exhaust, I’m thinking of all these different applications where this is used.

Steve Donaldson:

Anywhere you’ve got a stuck bolt, we’ve got the solution for that. So we even have, it’s called a Kentucky kicker. You can put an impact socket on there as well too. And same technology, you use the punch in and run it around. So it’s very simple solution to a problem.

Jamie Irvine:

Big problem.

Steve Donaldson:

Big problem that’s out there. And I really appreciate that because the thought that went into this is just like it. It’s cool. It solves a problem very simply, but nobody else thought of it besides Lock technologies.

Jamie Irvine:

Sometimes the simplest things are the best, right? And thank God for that. Right, exactly. Okay. So also one of the things I’m thinking of right away is you bring a truck in and okay, we have a NOx sensor that needs to be replaced, and then that thing twists or breaks. Well now all of a sudden that’s not just the cost of repairing the damage done, but it’s that downtime. It’s the loss of a half a day in the bay. It’s all of those things. So very simple solution with when we say a big problem, we really mean it has an economic impact on the distributor and the service shop and also on the fleet.

Steve Donaldson:

Correct. And the other thing this kit comes with too, because again, with the heating and cooling, those threads can get a little distorted and stuff. So this kit does come with thread chasers too, both for the bung where the NOx sensor goes in. And for the sensor itself, I mean typically you don’t take it out at, well, unless you’re doing exhaust work, you don’t take it out unless it’s bad. But we do have that included in the kit too. Okay. So that’ll be able to clean those threads up. You could thread your new sensor in and be on your way.

Jamie Irvine:

Fantastic. Okay. All right, Steve, so we were already on the track of diesel emission systems, so we were talking about that great tool for NOx sensors. Let’s talk about broken bolts on something like an EGR valve.

Steve Donaldson:

We have specific EGR valve kits. This particular kit here is works on any place that you’ve got a straight line repair. Say I’ve broken a bolt, we’ve got these lockdown nuts that I can use, bolt them into place, and then my strip bolt or my broken bolt, I can line the third one up on it. Comes with various sleeves and we start out small and we just drill, drill, drill, drill, and then we can retap it to the original size.

Jamie Irvine:

Oh, okay. So this is when we’re actually got a stripped out thread. We want to be able to drill it and tap it and be able to repair that stripped.

Steve Donaldson:

With, especially with the exhaust. And again, we’ve talked about it with the diesel NOx sensor or anytime we’ve got that heating and cooling, a lot of times the bolts will break off when you take off a manifold. So this allows us to get in there and perfectly align the broken bolt and be able to step drill it, I guess is the easiest way to say it.

Start out small and work your way up big and then tap that out. But with the precision of this tool, the way this is designed and with the fittings that screw right in there, it’s extremely precise and anybody can do it. So it doesn’t take a high-level technician who usually tries to tackle those items, those issues. An apprentice can go in and do this.

Jamie Irvine:

That’s an obvious benefit to the repair shop because of course the lack of overall technician shortage, we have a problem there. And then when you’ve got your highly trained people, you want them on the toughest problems. So if you can now move this to someone else that actually has a big impact.

Steve Donaldson:

It does. It impacts the shop greatly that it allows, like you say, it allows the A-techs to go in and work on serious issues and correct that too. So this particular one will fit on any, like I said, anything that’s a straight line pattern.

But we do have specific templates built up for other applications as well, EGR valves, injectors, and it’s all, again, solutions to serious issues out there that people are having problem issues that injector bolts commonly break off because they’re buried down in there where it gets really hot and stuff. So we have a lot of those solutions now through this Promax that we acquired last year.

Jamie Irvine:

It strikes me as the vehicles that become more complex, the tooling needs to adapt and keep up. And it sounds like you guys are doing a really great job of making these strategic acquisitions so that you can bring all of this together in one place and then people like the HDA Truck Pride members or other distributors can sell them out to the repair shops.

Steve Donaldson:

Exactly. And it’s exciting for us too, because a lot of this stuff is a lot more fun than an air coupler. I mean, I love my air couplers, don’t get me wrong, but again, it takes a serious problem. I mean, it’s a well-engineered but simple solution to it.

Jamie Irvine:

Fantastic. You’ve been listening to The Heavy Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine. We’ve been speaking with Steve Donaldson, Regional Manager of Milton Industries. To learn more about Milton Industries, head over to miltonindustries.com. Steve, thanks for coming back on the show.

Steve Donaldson:

Glad to be here again. Nice to see you. Good to see you again.

Jamie Irvine:

There are countless computers and miles of wiring in a modern-day class eight truck or trailer. These vehicles are electrical and they are complex. Now, when you think of the complexity of the modern-day electrical systems on commercial trucks and trailers, I know I think about corrosion, especially as someone who lives in a northern climate, whether you’re in Canada or you’re in the northern states, we know that the chemicals used for de-icing on the highways in the winter are often accelerants to this problem of corrosion.

My next guest has two simple products that address corrosion and that really will pay for themselves many times over. So I think you’ll be interested in learning about these products.

Matthew Young:

Hi, I’m Matthew Young, Industrial Sales Manager with Krown Industrial.

Jamie Irvine:

We’re at HDA Truck Pride’s annual meeting, and I am very happy to sit down with someone who’s got over 25 years of experience. I think we probably started the industry about the same time, late nineties, 20 years in the current role. Matthew, welcome to The Heavy Duty Parts Report.

Matthew Young:

Thanks very much, Jamie Thanks for having me.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah, great to be here with you. I wanted to talk to you a little bit about what you do, and I wanted you to explain to me the trends that you’re seeing in the industry as it pertains to fleets and of course this independent service channel that’s supporting them.

Matthew Young:

Well, one of the things we’ve taken great note of is a problem with corrosion right across from coast to coast, mainly in the northern US and in Canada. But the big issue seems to be related to the de-icing liquids that they’re using to prepare the roads before the snow.

Those same liquids are used in some of the southern areas to suppress dust, and it does create some of the same issues, but they really seem to be lending to electrical failures. It’s something that we hear a lot of from our customers. So because of those liquids, a lot of people are looking for a solution. How can I keep my truck on the road? How do I prevent these electrical failures when otherwise I have a good truck?

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah. Well, and with the trend of the way commercial equipment’s gone in the last 15 years, back in our day when we started, a lot of things were mechanical. Yes, corrosion was an issue, but it wasn’t as much of an issue as it is today. Now, I mean, I heard that one truck has something like eight computers that just are impacting the inside of the cab and the seats plus everything. It’s ridiculous how much technology is on these trucks. Now, corrosion gets into that. This isn’t a simple matter of cutting a few wires and splicing and getting a taillight to work again. This is significant issues.

Matthew Young:

It is, absolutely. So the TMC, they do study groups to try to assess the costs and impacts of things like corrosion. So they’ve estimated somewhere between $300, which is a pretty reasonable dollar figure up to $3,500 for just sort of a common repair. And that doesn’t include things like say on a garbage truck, you’ll have a wiring harness that goes front to back to front on the vehicle. Yep. It’s $4,500 just for the wiring. So it’s a huge issue dollar wise, and that’s what we’re trying to as address with the customer.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah. Earlier today we were just talking to Hendrickson. They’re talking about how smart trucks are, but now the trailers are also, so there’s a lot of electronics even on our boxes on wheels.

Matthew Young:

Absolutely.

Jamie Irvine:

Okay. So if corrosion is a big issue and it’s the electrical system that we’re focused on, what is the solution that Krown has developed that you’re bringing to the commercial market?

Matthew Young:

Oh, well I appreciate you asking about that. So there’s really two big issues at heart here. The biggest of all is moisture. And it seems like a simple thing like okay, moisture, that’s everywhere, but that’s what allows corrosion to take place. If you have dry metal and you had dry salt, you’d never have corrosion. But as soon as you add moisture to that equation that allows oxygen to come in from the air, it creates, we call ferrous oxide. That’s rust, that’s red rust. That’s the problem that’s nagging at the fleet industry in general. And when you take that into the microcosm there, we were talking about de-icing liquids.

Those chlorides, they stick to the metal and they’ll even penetrate inside a wiring harness or inside lighting. And once they’re there, it’s so difficult to remove them. It takes about 35,000 pounds of mechanical force to separate a chloride from metal. If you were actually accomplishing that by washing a truck, you’re destroying the equipment and that leads to electrical failures because the power washing is pushing moisture and salt and dirt into those areas that really we’re trying to protect.

Jamie Irvine:

Okay. So as you’re talking, I’m thinking prevention here must be a big part of the solution. That has to be phase one.

Matthew Young:

It’s the best line of defense. As soon as you go past that, you’re into repair. There really no other route. So what we have provided we, we’ve sort of taken a two-step approach to this. The first is how do we get those chlorides off of the metal? You really can’t do that using a pressure washer. You might get the bulk off. You might remove a lot of the white that you’re seeing there, but those chlorides still have a bond and they’re still going to pull moisture from the air and cause corrosion.

Jamie Irvine:

And you can’t see what you see is just what you’re able to see. But there’s things going on at the chemical level. Right at the molecule level that’s not going to be visible. So you may look and go do a visual inspection and say done.

Matthew Young:

Exactly. Exactly. So we’ve created a product called salt Eliminator. We call it salt It really what it address is all the chlorides. So magnesium chloride, calcium, sodium chloride, those bond with the metal. That’s what we need to get removed. So what the product does, it just simply breaks the bond. It doesn’t dissolve it. Like salt is a solid.

You’re not going to somehow make it dissolve. It’ll still be a solid, it just breaks the bond between the salt or and the salt rather and the metal, or it could be other, be other substrates, so it might be plastic or carpet or rubber it. It’ll just break that bond and allows it to be rinsed away rather than blasted with that pressure washer.

Jamie Irvine:

How is that applied? Is it applied at every time you wash? Is it something you put on ahead of time and then it gives you protection over a period? What’s the application?

Matthew Young:

Yeah, it’s a great question. So it’s typically applied just like any other truck wash soap would be maybe from a pressure washer, maybe from a garden hose with a pickup bucket on it. And it’s done essentially from the first snowfall to when the equipment’s being put away in the spring. So that would be used as sort of a winter wash, simple to use. It’s really no different from any other truck wash. It’s just the function of it is very different.

Jamie Irvine:

That makes sense. Yeah. Okay. So then what comes next?

Matthew Young:

So that would be sort of your winter pattern. Once a year, we have our customers use a product that we call KL 73 corrosion inhibitor and lubricant.

The purpose of that product is it just forms a bond with the metal and it’ll penetrate, it pushes into where the moisture would normally sit and it displaces that moisture. Okay. So it leaves sort of a light oily film, something similar to if you spill vegetable oil in your kitchen counter and you wipe it with a dry cloth, you’ll see that little light oily film.

That’s essentially what our product would look like on the metal. But what makes it unique is that it’s able to penetrate everywhere where the moisture would go because there’s no solvents in it. It’s safe everywhere on the truck.

So you spray all of your electrical components, all of your electronics, and then all of your standard components like frame rails and fifth wheel plates, things of that nature. What we’re trying to accomplish is getting moisture away from metal. It’s really the only way to protect the metal.

Jamie Irvine:

Now did you say that’s a single application in the summer, or is that also every time you wash?

Matthew Young:

So that would be done essentially once a year. Once a year. Sometimes if you’re like a DOT where they have a lot of abrasion and a lot of where they might do it spring and fall, but most ideally you’ll do it once a year in the spring is ideal. The concept behind that is corrosion is a chemical process as well as an electrical process. So every time the temperature goes up five degrees approximately, the rate of corrosion doubles.

Jamie Irvine:

Oh wow.

Matthew Young:

Wow. So in the spring, as the temperatures increase, you’ve got the salt sitting there, moisture present. That’s when the real corrosion takes place, and that’s what we want to achieve.

Jamie Irvine:

So there’s a real exponential curve to that. If every five degrees it doubles, I mean, yeah. Wow. Wow. Okay.

Matthew Young:

So that’s something where if you can get it cleaned off properly and then you apply that protection with the KL 73, that’s where our customers start to see a big return on their investment. That’s where it affects the electrical components. We have customers report fewer failures, failures that are present in half their fleet, and then they’ve done half their fleet with the product and they say, Hey, look, we’re not experiencing that issue anymore here. And another benefit to it is a lot of our customers see just an overall appearance benefit.

One of our customers resells their equipment every six years. They started using our program not only just because of the maintenance costs, but because of the fact that they were getting almost $2,000 per vehicle more when they sold it. So for them that more than paid for the program and that that’s the kind of return that we want our customers to see. I don’t want to sell something. I want to make sure the customer is getting value and they’ll see that in this program.

Jamie Irvine:

So that’s recouping just at the sale of the equipment, but then you’re also recouping all of the downtime, the labor that you don’t have to put into repairing electrical issues, which we all know could be a nightmare. Yeah. So you’re a new to the HDA Truck Pride program, probably the first time you’ve been at one of the annual meetings. What are you hoping to accomplish with these independent parts and service companies? How are you going to help them take your product to market?

Matthew Young:

Well, I’ll tell you a little secret. In the business of selling chemicals, I don’t ever try to go out and sell chemicals, and I don’t want our dealers to either. What I do want is for them to be able to identify particular problems that their fleets are having and be able to really address how to fix them for them. And I’m not suggesting that our product will fix every problem that every fleet has that that would be ridiculous.

But if you can make a tangible impact on what your customer costs to operate, then you become kind of a hero to them. That’s going to help all of our dealers grow all of their business, not just Krown sales that’ll help them with every part of their business that that’s what I want to accomplish. I want them to see what the problem is that their customer has and how they can address it impactfully, really focus on that return on investment and help them to become a solution provider rather than somebody that’s just outselling something.

Jamie Irvine:

Now we’re not in the business of selling products and services. We’re in the business of selling solutions. You’ve been listening to The Heavy Duty Parts report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine, and we’ve been speaking with Matthew Young, the Industrial Sales Manager at Krown Rust Control. To learn more about Krown Rust Control, go to crown.com. Links are in the show notes. Matthew, thank you for being on The Heavy Duty Parts report.

Matthew Young:

Thank you, Jamie. Appreciate you having me.

Jamie Irvine:

First time with HDA Truck Pride, first time on The Heavy Duty Parts Report, but not the last.

Matthew Young:

I hope so.

Jamie Irvine:

We’re going to take a quick break to hear from our sponsors. We’ll be right back.

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Whenever new technology makes the trucks and trailers more complex, there’s a big learning curve for the people who have to supply parts and the people who have to service and repair these vehicles. Right now, automated transmissions are mostly being serviced by the OES dealers, but there’s an opportunity for the independent service channel to get involved, and they’re needed because there’s a high demand for repair services for ATMs.

Now with good training and high quality parts, the independent parts and service channel can integrate parts and service on automated transmissions into their business model. And my next guest explains how they can do that, how ATMs differ from manual transmissions, and he talks about what you need to know about the clutches and the design of those clutches and what you need to know when you’re servicing an ATM that has a clutch issue.

Now, most people don’t think there is a clutch in an atm, but there is, and our guest is an expert at this, so listening to what he has to say about servicing ATMs and their clutches. Hi,

Jordan Stein:

My name is Jordan Stein with Illinois Auto Truck. I am the Vice President of Sales and Marketing.

Jamie Irvine:

So Jordan is a returning guest on The Heavy Duty Parts Report. He has been in the heavy duty industry for over 15 years now, 12 in his current role. Jordan, welcome back to The Heavy Duty Parts Report.

Jordan Stein:

Thank you very much, Jamie. I appreciate it.

Jamie Irvine:

Nice to be here with you again. So let’s talk a little bit about the trend towards automated transmissions. Big implications for drivers, for technicians, parts people, what’s going on in the world of automated right now?

Jordan Stein:

Especially in today’s market, a vast majority of what is being produced, what’s coming off the manufacturing line has an automated manual transmission. And what’s interesting is a lot of individuals in this side of the industry don’t necessarily know that there’s a collection involved because of the word automated, but it’s important to note there is a clutch involved still, regardless of the fact that there’s not a clutch pedal anymore, a vast majority of these manufacturers are moving to proprietary drive lines, which do have a clutch associated with that AMT offering.

Jamie Irvine:

Okay. Now let’s break it down by the three main vocations here. So let’s start with the drivers. I have heard that it takes drivers a little while to get used to it because the truck behaves a little differently than when they’re pulling gears in a manual. What is that like for the drivers when they start driving with automated transmissions?

Jordan Stein:

Sure. A seasoned driver who’s been around for quite some time is it’s going to be an adjustment. They used to have a clutch pedal. They used to have a lot more control.

That control has now gone to a computer, and so the computer or the system is deciding when to engage and disengage that clutch, and it’s taken a lot of the responsibility away from the driver. And so there is a learning curve there, especially when you’re driving in different terrains, whether you’re in the mountains or whatever it may be.

They need to get used to it and need to relinquish some of that control. They used to have to now allow the truck to do the work that it’s looking to do.

Jamie Irvine:

And by relinquishing some of that control and deferring to the computer. I’ve heard though that there is a increase in performance, meaning lower fuel consumption, and that lowers total cost of operation. Have you found that with the conversations you’ve had with fleets?

Jordan Stein:

Absolutely. A lot more fleets are moving to the AMT applications for those specific reasons. Not only that, but the product is lasting longer as well, because now you have a computer deciding how that product is being used versus an individual, and because of that, the lifespan of the product or the longevity of the product is far increasing than what it once was.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah. Okay. So we’re here at HDA Truck Pride’s annual meeting. This is a group of independently owned parts and service companies. Let’s talk about parts and technicians. When it comes to the whole transmission thing, I mean the manuals, for many years, there was one dominant part number that took care of a lot of the 18 speeds.

When I sold transmissions, this was a very transactional thing almost. It was just in and out, get the core, send it back. How are things changing for, let’s say the parts person with AMT?

Jordan Stein:

Sure. I mean you, Jamie, you asked me about the drivers and them having that learning curve. There’s a big learning curve as well on working with AMT product. The industry is changing in the fact that there used to be one number that could fit on all makes and models. Now it’s proprietary. So one number is fitting on one specific truck.

Jamie Irvine:

And you’re talking about I shift versus what are the other brands?

Jordan Stein:

So there’s Volvo, I shift, there’s Mac, there’s an Endurance transmission. There’s a DT 12 transmission. So now understanding it’s making it slightly easier on the part salesman because if you have a DT 12 transmission, there’s not as much variety of product. There’s a few questions to be asked to then determine what clutch goes in that vehicle.

But now that one specific clutch specifically fits onto a Freightliner, specifically fits onto a Volvo, or specifically fits onto a Mac vehicle versus in the past where you could have one number to fit on any of those applications.

Jamie Irvine:

Okay. Makes sense. Now, for the technician who’s working on that, they’re used to the process of a manual transmission with a clutch, and what was involved in fixing that or diagnosing a problem. Technology is vastly different. Now with this automated, like you said, on the surface, you’d think, well, there isn’t even a clutch in there and there is. Yeah. So what is the learning curve for the technician when they’re having to swap out that clutch?

Jordan Stein:

There’s a significant learning curve, and that’s what we’re finding, and that’s what we’re trying to accomplish in the market, is to provide more training for the technicians or even for the parts salesman, to understand how these systems work. Because a vast majority of their training was done on a manual or hydraulic linkage system where there’s really a lot more moving parts when you get into these AMT applications, there’s less components, but there’s things that they need to think about.

There’s various components within there within the system that an individual didn’t necessarily think about or know about before, but now they need to pay attention to, whether it’s an airline to an actuator, if that’s leaking over time, that’s going to cause issues with the clutch and the system as a whole. So it’s things to look for now versus different parts that they were looking at in the past.

Jamie Irvine:

Is there anything related to the computer, or when they switch this out, do they have to do any kinds of resets or anything like that?

Jordan Stein:

Absolutely. So all of these products need to be calibrated, so you need to have the software to be able to calibrate that specific application. So there is a lot of computer time involved now to be able to, once you install the product, to then calibrate it to make sure that the computer system or the software relearns the product that’s inside that vehicle now.

Jamie Irvine:

Okay. Makes sense. So when it comes to the customer, the end user customer who’s bringing his truck to a shop, they have a choice obviously, when they have a problem related to an amt. Historically, are they more oriented towards the dealer? What’s the situation on the independent side and how is that changing?

Jordan Stein:

Yeah, I think historically and even today, they’re more apt to go to the dealer on this product because it is still relatively new. Let’s say it’s been in the market for 10 years, and when you talk about the life cycle of a truck, predominantly the second, third, fourth generation homers might be going to the WDs.

What we’re, as we educate the WD network, that we have this product available, that this is out in the market, that this is something that you should be pushing and you should be selling.

We’re finding that we’re gaining more traction on selling that product into those markets, and they’re going after that business now. So as the life cycle of the truck, as you have more generations of different owners, that’s going to help the WD market be able to focus on this AMT application and the products associated with it.

Jamie Irvine:

I didn’t sell clutches very often because it wasn’t aligned that the companies I worked for were very focused on, except for one time. So for about a two year period, I did, and I’m just going on memory here, but with the older clutches, there was differences in quality, friction material, and the plate, the spring load.

Again, I wasn’t very well versed in that, but you know what I’m trying to get at. Yeah, absolutely. Could you kind of summarize those kinds of quality differences with clutches that go on an AMT?

Jordan Stein:

Sure. There’s a vast difference. So in the North American market, we have had obviously a North American drive line for many, many years, and in clutches specifically, that has always utilized a coil spring design.

So whether it’s an angle, spring style clutch that has six pressure springs or an easy pedal, what we refer to as easy effort style clutch, that has six pressure springs plus three additional assist springs. What’s now happening with these AMT products, it’s its European technology, and that European technology is a diaphragm spring. So it’s a one single spring inside this cover assembly versus varying springs that you had or various number of springs that you had previously.

So it looks completely different. Any individuals who are familiar with car clutches or racing clutches, a diaphragm spring clutch looks normal to them. But if they don’t have that experience and they’re just are familiar with truck clutches in the North American market, they’re looking at this product and saying, wow, this looks completely different than whenever I’ve worked with in the past.

Jamie Irvine:

Okay. Makes sense. What about helping customers diagnose problems? So how have you been working with people like the HDA Truck Pride Group to prepare them to be able to, when a customer says, I think I’m having a problem here, how have you been preparing them for that?

Jordan Stein:

So it all comes down to training with my sales staff, with my technical staff to make sure that we’re providing them the tools to understand where the market is today and where the market is going in the future, and understanding these various components that go along with the AMT product so that they can better educate their customers and they can help diagnose the problems. With these systems, there’s a computer system, so they’re going to spit out codes.

They’re going to tell you what’s going on. So working with them and our knowledge and our experience to understand what those codes mean and what to do in order to fix that code is very important to us. So we really focus on training at the WD level, but then also with the end user and making sure the tech, the technician has that training as well to understand what these codes mean and how do we fix it, and how do we get that truck back on the road.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah. So tell me a success story that you’ve had working in the context of a WD who then was able to help a fleet or end-user customer.

Jordan Stein:

Sure. It all comes down to awareness. Letting them know that we have these products available, that it is available in the aftermarket, that it’s not just going to the original equipment provider, that there is an aftermarket source, which is what we do for this product.

So we’ve had several success stories of educating our customers on the WD side to let them know we have this product available and this is what they should be pushing to the fleets, and whether it’s availability, whether it’s a cost savings, whether it’s quality in our design, they’ve seen success with their customers, with the large fleets in pushing this new product out in the market.

Jamie Irvine:

And if you’re on the independent side, every time someone calls the dealer for anything, it’s probably a lost sale on something because they would’ve that you sell, because while they’re there, they’re going to no doubt say, okay, well yeah, fix that as well. Well, yeah, give me that part as well, right? So every time you can get someone to call you instead of the dealer, you now have that opportunity to pick up those additional sales. Is that what was happening with these WDs who have adopted the program?

Jordan Stein:

Absolutely. If they’re innovative, if they’re looking into the future, if they’re understanding where the industry has gone and clutches in particular, they’re giving us those calls, they’re making those calls to us, and we’re providing a solution to them at a competitive price, providing the quality that they’re looking for so that their customer can get the longevity out of the product that they expect.

Jamie Irvine:

Wonderful. Well, you’ve been listening to The Heavy Duty Parts Report. We’re here at HDA Truck Pride’s annual meeting. I’ve been your host, Jamie Irvine. We’ve been speaking with Jordan Stein, welcome back to the show. So glad to have you a second time. He’s the VP of Sales and Marketing at Illinois Auto Truck. If you want to learn more, visit IATCOinc.com. I’ll put the links in the show notes for you for that. Jordan, thanks again for being on the show.

Jordan Stein:

Thanks, Jamie. Really appreciate it.

Jamie Irvine:

Well, the trucking industry and the heavy-duty parts industry continue to get more complex. I hope you see from today’s guests that there are some simple solutions out there, and with the proper education and with the support of suppliers like this, or joining a membership group like at HDA Truck Pride, if you’re in the independent parts and service channel, you can get access to everything you need to be successful in taking care of your customers and keeping those trucks and trailers rolling.

HDA Truck Pride is the nation’s largest independent group with over 750 parts stores and 450 service shops. They give you complete coverage over all of Canada and the United States, and they really are, in my opinion, the heart of the Independent Service Channel. If you’d like to learn more about being an HDA Truck Pride member, head over to our show notes and we’ll have links there where you can get access to that information.

Of course, we’re also linking to all of our suppliers so you can learn about the products that they are selling, and we want to give a special thank you to our sponsor. FinditParts. If you need to buy parts, that’s where you should go find itparts.com. Again, links are in the show notes. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of The Heavy Duty Parts Report. My name is Jamie Irvine, and as always, I want to encourage you to Be Heavy Duty.

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