LAS VEGAS — Wabco North America plans to roll out, beginning in the third quarter, a network of certified independent service centers to support trucks and trailers using its parts.
Additionally, the company announced new products available in the aftermarket. The move will send the company further down the path of leveraging its product portfolio here itself, experts said, following the dissolution in October 2017 of the 27-year Meritor Wabco joint venture — a move Wabco said at the time would better serve customers with “more simplified and direct channels.”
Brussels, Belgium-based Wabco is a manufacturer and supplier of advanced driver assistance, braking, steering and stability control systems plus automated manual transmissions. Wabco operates in 40 countries.
“We want to help with time to repair, and the certification process puts that standard out there. We do it in the rest of the world. We just haven’t had the opportunity to do it here until now,” said Jon Morrison, president of Wabco North America.
Globally, Wabco works with 3,000 independent service centers.
Morrison spoke with Transport Topics during Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week here Jan. 29-31.
“The footprint is so vast in North America that you need these service centers,” said Abe Aon, director of North American aftermarket at Wabco. “Wabco’s main focus is on supporting the fleets, giving them products, tools and services they need to maximize their uptime and push their business. That is really a key differentiator.”
In the last 18 months, Wabco North America has grown from one aftermarket person (him) to 37 now, Aon said.
The company has begun evaluating where to launch the program.
“We are developing the strategy and profiles that we want to look at,” Aon said. “We are looking for that high standard of service. That’s really where I am going to have to leave it right now until I am able to roll out my full strategy.”
When it comes to service center locations, Morrison said, a starting point would be east of the Mississippi where Wabco has a higher concentration of trailer and truck content, and near key longhaul corridors.
Wabco products are on brands from every truck and trailer manufacturer. Its fleet customers include Crete Carrier Corp., Schneider, Werner Enterprises Inc. and Walmart Inc.
Schneider ranks No. 7 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of for-hire carriers in North America. Werner ranks No. 15 and Crete ranks No. 34.
Walmart ranks No. 3 on TT’s Top 100 list of private carriers in North America.
Aon said the landscape of trucking is getting more complex with more electronics and the increasing need for better trained technicians. And there’s always a need for independents able to serve multiple makes of trucks.
A truck is becoming much more connected through the software and technology platforms, Morrison said. So when a problem arises and a light comes on in the cab, the cause is not always obvious and can be pretty complex to figure out amid layers of data.
“As we talk about diagnostics and over-the-air updates and ways in which we can probe into the vehicle to see what’s going on, those will be very important aspects down the road,” he said. “But it is very clear in a fleet’s mind, it owns the data. That’s their truck. That’s their data.”
Meanwhile, Meritor remains Wabco’s exclusive North American distributor for certain products for the next nine years.
“We came from a very long-term agreement to now a much shorter agreement and a much different agreement,” Morrison said. ”We have a good process that we set up to work with them.”
He said Meritor’s goal to “keep the customer first” through the whole transition “has helped us maneuver through situations where there might have been quite a bit more conflicts.”
At HDAW, Wabco announced several new aftermarket safety products as well as certified Sheppard remanufactured steering gears for the North American aftermarket.
These included: retrofit kits for the OnSide and OnGuardACTIVE collision mitigation/avoidance technologies to existing vehicles, Wabco remanufactured trailer antilock brake systems that are available in one- and two-modulator configurations, a dump box position sensor retrofit, part of the SafeStart family of products from Wabco that warns the operator when the vehicle exceeds a preset programmed speed with the dump body extended.
Its Mico brake lock retrofits are available, too, for construction, mining, agriculture, material handling, multistop delivery and recreational vehicles — and fit most medium- and light-duty vehicles.