New or recycled fleet vehicle parts?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 - 16:29
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EXPERT: Jason Cross, MD of FAB Recycling

In our latest Expert Blog, Jason Cross, Managing Director of FAB Recycling, discusses the new or recycled vehicle parts debate…

Fleet management has never been more expensive with fuel, maintenance and spares costs ever increasing.

After depreciation, the second biggest cost is maintenance, of which a large chunk is replacement parts.

The majority of fleet managers buy new, original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts without realising there is an alternative that can take a big dent out of their bills.

Around two million vehicles a year are designated end of life, but not all should go to scrap (or sold overseas, only to end up back on our roads badly repaired).

Often there’s up to 90% of a vehicle that can be recycled.

A typical ‘green’ or recycled part is generally up to 60% cheaper than a new one, and over 99% of the time just as reliable.

Unfortunately the majority of fleet managers don’t have the time or inclination to investigate the green parts option.

The issue of storage has played a role, plus the fleet industry hasn’t really highlighted the advantages of recycled parts, until now.

Before FAB Recycling, there was no real way to get hold of recycled parts in bulk.

But things are changing quickly.

A decade ago most of us didn’t recycle bottles, cans, paper or plastic.

But as the industry evolved it’s become the norm.

In ten years time I believe most vehicles on British roads will run with recycled parts fitted.

A lot of this will be due to internet-based services which take the hassle out of parts procurement and store parts for fleet managers until they need them.

It makes perfect financial and environmental sense at a time when companies are looking to make savings wherever they can and more and more of us are doing business over the web.

The quality, reliability and traceability of recycled parts is also better than ever, with professional organisations such as ourselves now offering guaranteed standards on every fleet part sold.

For example, if I told you I’d buy your written off vehicle, collect it, dismantle it, store the parts harvested from it, then sell a part back to you and guarantee to deliver it within 48hours for half the cost of you buying a new part, what would you say?

If you do want to start using recycled then you may need to re-negotiate with your supplier.

Many manufacturers tie fleets in to warranty deals that mean only new parts can be supplied for their vehicles.

Be warned: not all new part are covered by a warranty in the case of accidents, scrapes and bumps, or major mechanical damage due to misuse.

Pattern or unbranded new parts are common, can be poor-fitting, and of questionable quality.

Given the choice between pattern and recycled, most bodyshop owners prefer to use the latter.

Keeping vehicles on the road is always a priority, so sourcing parts fast is often cited as a reason to stick with locally sourced OEM parts.

But the increasing proliferation of recycled parts suppliers, with growing distribution networks, means they can be delivered as fast as new originals at vastly reduced prices and often in the correct colour.

The truth about recycled vehicle parts: the facts

Recycled vehicle parts are on average 60% cheaper than new.

However, as with new parts, the devil is also in the detail.

Standards can be variable, with not all providers delivering the part they say they will.

Very few use internal tracking systems to ensure the part ordered is the part actually delivered.

The recycled parts industry has typically operated under the ‘buyer beware’ principle and most can’t verify traceability or don’t have a returns policy.

At FAB we can guarantee traceability for every part, test all parts, and create stringent standards that already exceed those set across the industry.

Our policies are starting to have an effect, and things are beginning to change.

In the meantime, you should only ever purchase recycled parts from a licensed vehicle dismantler (ATF).

Check whether, like us, they are members of recognised trade bodies such as the Motor Vehicle Dismantlers’ Association or the BVSF.

The Environment Agency also keeps an up to date list of all ATFs able to deal with end of life vehicles.

However, being able to legally dismantle vehicles doesn’t mean they have the infrastructure and processes to supply you with parts to the standards you require.

I can count on one hand the companies able to do this, and that’s being generous.

If you are servicing public sector contracts, your clients may also make stipulations about the provenance of any vehicle parts.

Does the contract specify standards relating to mechanical failure for example?

Are there expectations around uniformity of fleet appearance?

That will impact on the parts you can buy and the suppliers you choose.

For example, we work to a 0.03% return rate for the 40-plus police forces we supply, which make use of our closed loop service, My Green Fleet.

Running your fleet on electricity or bio fuel isn’t the only way to ‘go green’.

The savings speak for themselves, while the social responsibility of running ‘green parts’ is clear for not only your company, but for your clients.

End of life vehicles are most often scrapped, crushed, shipped out of the country only to be melted down and turned back into parts.

It’s financial and environmental madness when the UK is awash with re-usable parts.

The next time you write off a vehicle, considered the value of selling it to a professional outfit that can store it until you need a particular part – a wing mirror, a bonnet, door, alternator, radiator, tail light, bumper.

In my opinion, no fleet manager should ever buy a new non-safety-related vehicle part ever again without first trying to source a recycled one.