The benefit of quality engine parts and skilled engineering is seldom seen in the first thousand hours of a vehicle’s operation. This only becomes evident later, when the engine starts to log extended
So says Andrew Yorke, operations director of Metric Automotive Engineering, who adds that driven by the quest for more power from smaller engines, better fuel efficiency and higher emission standards, the design of engines today is more complex than it has ever been.
“The engines currently being installed into new vehicles are highly sophisticated, not in their major elements, but in the minor components that are so critical to performance and emissions efficiencies,” he says. “Although the primary elements have stayed the same, when it comes to engine rebuilding, machining tolerances and clearance tolerances have become a lot tighter.
“This necessitates far higher skill levels among remanufacturing engineers, even compared to the recent past, as well as more accurate equipment because there is a great deal less room for error. Some fleet owners, plant managers and foremen are not aware that the major engine OEMs share basic engine designs, but adjust them to suit their own requirements. Today it can’t be assumed that because the engines look the same, the same parts can be used. Certain engine models are being shared by up to five different OEMs. The engine block is the same, but there are small size variations in the componentry and even within a single manufacturer’s range of engines there are even subtle variations.”
Since these subtle differences have a direct impact on engine performance and the customer’s return on investment, Yorke recommends that when customers look for remanufacturing services, they should audit the status of the remanufacturer’s equipment to determine if it is capable of handling these new generation engines.
Engineering and artisan machining skill levels are also critical. When remanufacturers are obliged to outsource certain elements of the process because they don’t have the equipment or the necessary skills in-house, this can impact quality, create turnaround delays, add to the costs and even affect warranty terms.
He says remanufacturers must also have access to the correct engine parts and in order to provide the correct engine parts, these companies need to know the engine serial number, model number and the vehicle VIN code. Although parts differences are not obvious, fitting the incorrect parts will significantly affect performance.
“An engine is not just an engine anymore,” says Yorke. “Rebuilders can no longer supply a part simply because it looks the same as what was originally in place. There are critical differences and if you don’t work with them, the engine will never run as it’s intended to. There are no more quick fixes because once the vehicle is back on the road, it’s extremely difficult to identify why it’s not running optimally. This is what gives engine rebuilding a bad name.
“The focus must be on the correct parts for a given application. At Metric Automotive Engineering, we don’t sell parts unless we know the serial number and the arrangement number. As a service to our Caterpillar customers, for example, we provide world class IPD engine cover parts which attract cost savings, because we are the local distributor. There’s no middle man and we carry the stock on our shelves, which speeds up turnaround time.
“Our highly skilled in-house engineers understand the new generation engines and have the knowledge to install correct parts that are of an appropriate standard. We’re familiar with the subtle differences between engine variants ensuring that the customer receives the correct parts first time round.
“This is where the cost saving comes in. Although the up-front cost may be more and the operational benefits not immediately evident, there will be a definite return on investment in the medium term to long term.”