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Swapping truck part cores for credit can be a hassle, but it doesn't have to be

March 5, 2021

There's a misconception in the world of trucking aftermarket cooling parts that rebuild kits are the most efficient and popular way to replace a damaged fan clutch.

That's increasingly untrue, actually. The market is moving more and more toward remanufactured parts as an alternative, due to their simplicity and relatively comparable costs when factoring in labor.

That equation in favor of remans features a key component, though: a supplier program that provides credit toward purchase in exchange for old cores that can be used to remanufacture old parts.

It can be one of the more complicated facets of an aftermarket parts manager or fleet maintenance manager's existence.

But it doesn't have to be.

What is a remanufacturing core exchange program?

A core program is usually activated by a customer purchasing a re-manufactured part.

A large percentage of components on a diesel engine are candidates for remanufacturing because the original parts content coming off the manufacturing line is so expensive.

We're talking a lot of casted material, and it would go to waste without remanufacturing. Some end customers on the aftermarket insist on new parts, but many times they're chiefly concerned with getting back on the road first and foremost.

If the customer chooses to purchase a re-manufactured part, he or she is typically required to turn in the old core for credit.

The core then gets shipped back to the manufacturer, where it's determined if it's eligible or not.

This is where a lot of differences between core programs arises. Different suppliers put different amounts of detail and nuance into determining if the core is actually eligible to be reused.

Typical steps in a reman core exchange program

1.Customer purchases a re-manufactured part
2.Customer turns in old core for credit
3.Core shipped to manufacturer
4.Core qualified by manufacturer to determine credit eligibility
5.Customer provided credit from turned-in core
6.Reusable core components go into re-manufacturing process

There can be a lot of gray area, and it can cause a lot of headaches for parts managers and technicians (more on that shortly).

The customer is then provided credit if the core is deemed reusable. That core then goes into the re-manufacturing process, which typically involves tearing down the old core, validating its components, cleaning, inspection, rebuilding with OE components and quality checks.

Not all core programs are created equal

Not all core programs -- and remanufactured parts, for that matter -- are the same.

There are a lot of positives, of course. When it comes to heavy-duty parts, the credit that can be had via a core program helps lower the total cost of repairing a part. Remans also cut down on labor time when compared to a rebuild kit -- which means repair bays can turn over faster and -- most importantly -- optimal uptime.

The entire process of replacing a damaged fan clutch using a reman, for example, can save 1-2 hours per repair.

Alternatives, such as a repair kit, also increase the likelihood of error.

Finally, remans are good for the environment. They cut down significantly on the amount of metal being scrapped and ending up in landfills.

But it can be cumbersome, especially when dealing with suppliers that offer multiple levels of credit depending on the state the part is in.

Horton, for example, used to offer full, half or no credit depending on the state of a fan clutch core. Starting in 2021, the policy has been simplified to include either full credit or zero credit; as long as the core isn't physically altered in any way, we take them and provide full credit toward a new reman purchase.

Examples of unacceptable damage include welding, sawing and the like. Some technicians can get creative when it comes to removing parts in this manner, but such modifications render the core unusable against the supplier's quality standards.

Some core programs require a "like-for-like" exchange, too. In order to receive credit toward a new reman part, customers have to turn in the same brand -- and in some cases, the same model -- of part.

Going back to Horton's revamped core policies as an example, the company doesn't require like-for-like and accepts all competitor cores.

Why reman in the first place?

As soon as a fleet maintenance technician or local truck repairman brings in a damaged part, the clock starts ticking. How quickly can you work with him to get the truck back up and running? And how much does it cost?

In a recent American Truck Association Technology and Maintenance Council survey, 60 percent of respondents indicated hiring new technicians is the No. 1 concern in their shop. Using remans, of course, doesn't completely solve this problem, but it does help shorthanded teams work more efficiently.

When factoring in core credit and labor, the overall cost as compared to a manual rebuild is usually at least a wash.

If you want to go a little deeper into this topic, Horton's aftermarket experts recently held a webinar on core programs. You can also visit hortonww.com/reman for details on the remanufacturing process and its benefits for the aftermarket.