Carl Tapp was reviewing the parts catalog system for P.A.M. Transportation Services, Inc., when something caught his eye. As vice president of maintenance for the company, Tapp was accustomed to seeing certain part numbers associated with Bendix AD-9 air dryers, but suddenly he began to notice new part numbers for air dryers in the system with lower prices.
Tapp discovered that parts vendors were selling his company will-fit air dryers, rather than the genuine Bendix products he typically purchased. In this case, the will-fit products were cheaper, but Tapp understood that the less expensive air dryers would not meet the stringent testing requirements conducted by Bendix to ensure quality aftermarket products.
According to David Schultz, aftermarket marketing manager at Bendix, while will-fits (which are not made by the original manufacturer, nor do they violate patents or intellectual property) and knockoff products (which do) may have an initial lower cost when compared to genuine, they cost more in the long run due to a generally shorter product life because of lower quality manufacturing levels and testing.
For 80 years, Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC has been setting the industry standard for developing advanced safety technologies. Bendix believes a critical factor in ensuring the performance of these technologies is leadership in the battle against counterfeit and knockoff parts.
“I am adamant about buying genuine products,” Tapp said. “I’ve been in business for more than 30 years, and I have seen the difference between will-fit parts and genuine parts. Will-fits are not held to the high standards that quality remanufactured products are held to.”
Founded in 1980, P.A.M. Transportation is based in Tontitown, Ark. The company provides nationwide dry van truckload, expedited truckload, intermodal and logistics services to the manufacturing, retail and automotive industries. The company also provides direct service into Ontario and Quebec. With more than 2,200 trucks on the road, Tapp said it’s vital that a part doesn’t potentially compromise the integrity of the entire air brake system.
Tapp sent the will-fit Bendix AD-9 air dryer to Bendix for evaluation. Mark McCollough, Bendix director of air treatment, responded with a letter outlining the results of the evaluation. The dryer was confirmed to be from the same manufacturer and the same model of an air dryer for which Bendix had recently completed testing.
“It failed seven out of 11 areas of the design verification testing that we use to test our own genuine Bendix air dryers,” McCollough said. “A few of the failures were significant enough that they would likely cause a truck or tractor to be disabled on the road due to the inability to build air. Other failures identified in the testing would likely impact the air system unfavorably, leading to related failures over time.”
That was the proof Tapp needed to explain to others within P.A.M. Transportation why he was so adamant about purchasing genuine parts: it keeps the fleet on the road.
“It can happen a lot these days because of the bad economy,” Tapp said. “People tend to cut corners in the interest of saving money.”
Tapp’s fleet did not experience any failures stemming from the 40-plus will-fit air dryers purchased. But he returned all of the will-fit dryers and bought genuine Bendix AD-9 air dryers as replacements.
“Bendix believes that subjecting its genuine Bendix products, both new and remanufactured, to stringent reliability standards and substantive testing to ensure tolerance, performance and dependability will help improve the safety of our roadways,” said David Schultz, aftermarket marketing manager at Bendix.
“To the untrained eye, will-fit, knockoff and counterfeit parts seem similar to a genuine Bendix product because they are manufactured to appear the same. It’s important to remember, however, that these components often may not be subjected to the rigorous testing and standards that Bendix employs to guarantee its parts.”
Often, counterfeits and knockoff components, in particular, contain a “design-around,” which attempts to recreate a patented design without directly violating the patents. As a result, the component design does not function the same as the patented component. Counterfeiting results in inferior products, which ultimately compromises public safety.
Schultz added that while counterfeit and knockoff parts may have an initial lower cost when compared to genuine, they cost more in the long run due to generally shorter product life due to lower quality manufacturing levels and lack of testing.