Automobile manufacturers often warn their customers about the problems of purchasing replacement parts that aren’t sanctioned by the equipment’s manufacturer. And, when it comes to high-value finishing equipment, the same caution applies. Here’s why.
Aftermarket parts are generically designed so they can fit many types of machines. And the more generic the part, the more risks for machine breakdown. A good example of this is belts. OEM belts are made of a specific material in order to alleviate the stressors the belts were engineered to endure. A third-party belt that’s not constructed of that precise material may cause slippage and timing errors. So, although an aftermarket belt is priced $10 less, it costs significantly more in downtime and lost productivity.
In addition, since an OEM part is made by the machine’s manufacturer, it’s not only designed for optimum performance, it’s also designed to work seamlessly with the other OEM parts that comprise that particular machine. An aftermarket part, however, can impair the synch and performance of the parts it shares company with, resulting in serious damage, including blown motors.
Another area of aftermarket concern is electronic parts. Today’s machines utilize highly sophisticated Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) to automate electromechanical processes. OEM electronic parts are designed with proprietary, customized functionality software and parameter settings that are specific to that machine’s promise of performance. If you think you’re getting an identically engineered aftermarket electronic part, think again.
And there are other bottom-line reasons to choose OEM parts, including:
- OEM parts are a higher quality, so they last longer.
- Less wear and tear. Although OEM parts may be somewhat more expensive in the short-term, over time they result in a consistently better performing machine.
- If you choose an aftermarket part, you risk voiding your machine’s warranty.
- R&D commitment. OEMs continually strive to make their machines perform optimally and to current standards. That’s why they offer replacement policies and upgrade kits. Not so with an aftermarket vendor who has no vested interest in your machine’s—or your company’s—future.
I think we’d all agree that companies invest a tremendous amount of time and effort when vetting a new finishing investment. Yet, once the machine is installed, they often choose aftermarket parts primarily because they’re cheaper. Let’s revisit my earlier automotive analogy through an investment perspective. Today’s finishing equipment typically costs 10-20 times more than a car. What’s more, these machines represent the lifeblood of your organization. OEM versus aftermarket parts? When it comes to sound business sense, there really isn’t a choice.