Vocational Truck & Trailer

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Whalen Report:

Off-Road Parts Market

By Mike Whalen

After many years in parts marketing to both the on and off-highway truck and equipment markets, there has always been the question: Which market segment is most attractive to the independent aftermarket parts distributor?
New developments can support the attractiveness of the off-road segment. New truck sales are up, and a growing number of diesel-powered highway tractors are being replaced by tractors with electric power plants. This means there are more used units on the market. Many of these will be re-configured and/or re-powered by the second owners into units used for vocational applications.
The engine transmission combination used on-highway is usually not suitable for these new heavy duty on/off road applications. Those that will be used for heavy duty applications, such as mining/aggregate, construction, heavy-haul and forestry will be re-powered to suit a new application that have higher horse power/torque needs.
These highway tractors may also have the chassis reconfigured to suit installation of a new body or piece of truck equipment. Garbage processor, gravel box, a crane behind the cab or a heavy-duty crane. The list goes on.
Power/Fuel selection is application based. The vocational truck market is made up of three types of fleets. Those who fuel from a central location – such as municipal or construction – from varied locations such as construction, forestry. Also, many off-highway mixed fleets rely on an on-site delivery system.
Changes in the fuel/power used by the on-road market seem to be happening every day. From bio-diesel to natural gas and now electric power is moving to the front of the line.
However, the off-road truck market continues to be dominated by diesel powered drivetrains.
As well as heavy duty trucks, the off-highway fleets include other off-highway machines. These usually fuel at the yard or job site or have fuel delivered by company fueling trucks. As diesel is used by the other off-road vehicles used in the fleet it makes sense to work with one fuel storage and delivery system for all.
Example, if you are a construction company operating many vehicle configurations, as well as trucks, re-powering with diesel power out-weighs natural gas and propane. Using electric power makes less sense. Construction, mining and forestry operations move from site to site, so the use of a fixed charging station is not practical. And extending the electric grid makes less sense.
Off-road opportunities include:
• Power and drivetrain. Reconfiguring highway tractors for vocational use means, in many cases, engine and drivetrains will be replaced.
• Up-grading systems such as brakes, cooling systems and improved filtration to clean contaminated diesel fuels.
• Installation of vocational bodies, truck equipment.
• Work truck body parts sales.
• New hydraulic components.
It’s not hard to see that the focus of the aftermarket parts distributor should be on the off-road vocations.
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