The ARTSA-institute has released a new ‘Good Practice Guide for Supply of Replacement Parts for use on Heavy Vehicles’, which aims to raise awareness about safety-critical replacement parts and supply practices.
The guide describes actions that suppliers should take to ensure parts are suitably certified, that records are kept and installation information is provided. It doesn’t favour original equipment parts over after-market parts, or bricks and mortar retailers over online suppliers. Instead, ARTSA-i says it provides common-sense actions that all part suppliers should take, but often don’t.
“We aim to reduce the risk of workshops fitting poor quality or inadequately rated safety-critical parts as well as providing an understanding of the different types of replacement parts available in the market,” said Dr Peter Hart, executive member at ARSTA-i and a certified vehicle engineer.
“For many types of replacement parts there are no requirements to meet a standard. For safety-critical parts such as braking, steering and suspension, the supply, selection and fitment of sub-standard replacement parts could compromise the safety of truck drivers and all other road users. A casual glance at the part may not reveal any inherent unsuitability for the intended task, due to inappropriate materials used or short-cuts taken during manufacturing. Just because the part may appear to fit, does not necessarily mean it is suitable or safe. It is the supplier’s responsibility to correctly describe the status of the part to the market.
“ARSTA-i has devised this guide in association with its members as well as outside experts to offer clarity to everyone in the replacement parts chain, regarding the suitability and safety of parts with acceptable quality that may be sourced by an operator or workshop,” Hart added.
“Price is an easy to understand variable, but quality and suitability are harder to determine, and in some cases, there is no linear relationship between price and quality. It is when things go wrong that the supplier’s quality controls and record keeping become critical.”
Under the Heavy Vehicle National Law those who are involved in heavy vehicle transport have a duty to ensure the safety of their transport activities, including to ensure their vehicles comply with vehicle standards and are appropriately maintained.
“Operators should purchase good-value parts for heavy vehicles that will provide safe, reliable, and legal performance,” Hart said. “The guide defines acceptable supply practice and advises purchasers what to expect from suppliers. The use of poor-quality parts leaves the operator vulnerable to expensive breakdowns and reworks, enforcement attention and loss of insurance cover. For this latter reason alone every vehicle operator is urged to ensure that their in-house technicians or third-party workshops and suppliers fit parts that are suitable for the job.
“We want to reduce the risk of in-service failure of all replacement parts, to avoid the vehicle crashing, or simply breaking down on the highway where they may be vulnerable to impact by other road users, potentially causing death, injury, loss or damage. We believe these risks can be mitigated if replacement parts suppliers implement the quality-assurance activities specified in this new Guide,” added Hart.
The guide recognises four risk levels which are:
- Safety Critical
- Safety and Compliant Relevant
- Minor Safety Relevance and
- No Safety and Compliance Concerns.
The guide’s advice is graduated according to these levels.
By implementing the guide’s suggestions, ARTSA-i says suppliers can identify appropriate technical standards, hold validation test reports, keep supply records, review failure reports, and provide installation information.
“All suppliers of parts can and should comply with the requirements of this guide,” Hart said.
The Guide is applicable to replacement parts which are used to replace an original part, and for parts that are used to modify a vehicle.
“We would like to see workshop parts buyers transacting with suppliers who are following the Guide so they can be confident that practices are being followed that promote good part quality.”
The guide identifies good practices that will support suppliers, purchasers, operators, and others involved in the servicing or modification of heavy vehicles, to enhance the safety and reputation of the road transport sector. Additionally, the purchaser and fitter of these parts will have peace-of-mind that they have completed satisfactorily their role in the chain of responsibility.
“The guide will also be of interest to enforcement officers inspecting vehicles at the roadside, who may be able to recognise quality replacement parts used in safety-critical areas,” Hart said.
ARTSA-i is reaching out to all heavy vehicle owners and operators as well as repair shops, in-house workshops and parts retailers, and to relevant truck industry bodies, to explain the content of the guide and how it can best be utilised.
The guide can be downloaded here.