“It’s that twisty shaft with a spring on the end.” Not exactly the most useful of descriptions to help even the most knowledgeable partsman identify what it is and locate the necessary part number.
True, farmers can usually come up with something a little more accurate and, all being well, an implement make and model – better still a serial number – to help with the process.
But putting in a call to the local dealer and waiting while parts are identified, availability checked and prices looked up all takes time.
“Some dealers can give you a pretty rapid response; in other cases it can take some time, especially if you call when the parts counter is a bit busy,” notes Surrey farmer Hugh Broom, who recently discovered the advantages of being able get at least some of the details online.
“Most farmers are pretty practical and know how to identify a part if they have access to a catalogue with exploded diagrams and lists of components,” he points out. “With an online system, you always have the most up to date information – and it must surely make life easier for dealers to get a detailed list of requirements by fax or email.”
For the manufacturer or importer, getting a traditional parts catalogue online is not something that can be achieved overnight.
The number of different parts involved is vast, bearing in mind that stocks for out-of-production machines may be held for years. Off-the-shelf software is available but loading the data and ensuring the system functions in a simple but effective manner is quite a task.
Still, most manufacturers have recognised the benefits of setting up online catalogues and ordering facilities for their dealers in streamlining the process of procuring parts and achieving a high degree of accuracy.
Such systems also enable dealers to provide a better level of service to customers by having real-time information of availability in manufacturer warehouses of specific parts they do not have in stock themselves.
Increasingly, though, access to at least some of that information is being opened up to end users – notably by Case IH, Deere and New Holland on the tractor side and for Kverneland and Vicon equipment on the implement front.
Others will soon follow: Ruston’s Engineering (Reco), the importer of Sulky, Maschio, Kioti and several other equipment ranges is working on a dealer portal that will include farmer access to an online parts catalogue.
Kverneland Group UK parts marketing manager Richard Bennett reckons an online catalogue helps end-users and dealers alike by streamlining identification of parts.
“Also, we’re conscious that there are many very knowledgeable parts people who keep track of parts changes related to tractors but they are inevitably less well informed about, for example, when a bearing changed on a disc mower,” Mr Bennett adds. “The more guidance we can provide, the better; and being online means it is always up to date.”
Parts catalogues and operator manuals in .pdf format are available for current and past Kverneland machines from the Document Archive via the Downloads link at the bottom of the page but farmers can also access Kverneland’s interactive parts catalogue without any username or password login via the group website kvernelandgroup.com and the Kverneland or Vicon brand tabs.
Open-access Kverneland parts site display can be customised to show parts description and an interactive diagram, or the diagram alone for clarity.
Using the Spareparts link opens the Spare Parts Catalogue page with links to separate listings for the Kverneland and Vicon brands, as well as for the Deutz-Fahr branded forage equipment sold in Ireland and elsewhere, and the Kverneland sub-brands Taarup, Accord, Rau and Rau-Kleine.
If the catalogue fails to open after clicking these links, install the latest Java data-processing software from the java.com website.
Once open, the display provides a search box for description or part number, plus machine image links and an expandable tree of equipment types, individual models (with serial number ranges where appropriate) and then assemblies.
A list of individual components with part numbers is shown once the latter level has been reached, together with an exploded diagram of the assembly.
Highlight one component description using a mouse click (or several by pressing the ctrl key at the same time), and the eye is drawn to a flashing red box around the relevant location number on the diagram, making it easier to find. Alternately, pointing the mouse cursor at a part location number on the illustration reveals its number and description.
Another neat feature is the way the display can be customised; hiding the menu tree and/or the part description list, for example, leaves more space for the diagram. And if the diagram is zoomed in, it is automatically repositioned if necessary to show a selected part.
Once required parts have been located this way, a mouse right click on one or more items on the descriptions list gives the option to load these items to a basket – but at present, that is as far as the system goes.
“Users can print this list to fax or email it to their dealer or to use as a reference to enquire about availability and pricing,” explains Richard Bennett. “We do not offer price and availability to the end user, preferring they make contact with their local dealer who can provide this information and who may well have the part in stock.”
Case-IH and New Holland
The CNH Parts & Service website displays a subject tree and exploded diagrams from which parts can be selected and a print-off order compiled.
Managing the site to maintain up-to-date pricing and warehouse or dealer availability would be a major task, even given the resources of a global manufacturer, because of the numbers involved. CNH group parts logistics files carry 1.2 million part numbers and there are more than a million bin locations.
Parts shipments involve nine million lines weighing 47,200t a year; by comparison, says CNH, automotive businesses deal with 250,000 parts and truck businesses around 400,000.
The straightforward registration process that gives end-user access to an interactive parts catalogue for tractors and implements is initiated by selecting Parts & Service on the two brand websites and on the drop-down menus clicking the New Holland Parts or Search for Parts (Case IH) tabs.
Once on the blue- or red-coloured CNH Parts & Service site, there is a collapsible menu tree and also a facility to search by model number, one word of the model name or by machine type, and then by description and/or part number.
The menu tree also provides a quick route by presenting a list of major assemblies – such as Engine, Transmission and Front Axle & Steering for tractors, for example.
At component level, serial number ranges (where relevant) are also noted and an exploded diagram is displayed that can be repositioned in its window when zoomed in. Part numbers and description and the quantities used in a particular assembly are also shown.
Tick boxes enable users to add items to a shopping cart from which the contents can be printed or exported to a spreadsheet, or printed as an order complete with invoice and shipping addresses for faxing or emailing to a dealer.
No pricing or availability is available at this time – in contrast to the JohnDeere.com website, which with some 10 years development behind it, is the most advanced of its type at present.
As farmers become used to it, identifying and ordering parts online will become second nature, reckons John Deere after-market sales manager James Morley.
The current version of the site went live five years ago and, essentially, gives public access to the same parts catalogue system used by John Deere dealers.
Users sign up on the site for an account with a nominated dealer. Thereafter, access is available to more than 100,000 items covering John Deere agricultural and groundscare equipment produced since the mid-1970s, some parts for competitor tractors and machines, and a host of sundries from batteries to bolts of all sorts and sizes.
These can be found using the comprehensive search facility, which enables users to enter details or select from a sequence of drop down menus. They can look for items using full or partial part numbers (for John Deere and other manufacturers’ equipment) or by machine type, make and model; or by part specification.
“My favourite example is a large U-bolt for a cultivator leg, which is attached to a 6in square box frame,” says James Morley. “The search process takes you through various steps to find the right sort of U-bolt with the specification required. It beats driving around local hardware suppliers trying to track it down.”
The site also has parts product information guides and lists of commonly replaced Deere maintenance parts, such as belts and filters.
It also offers equipment inspection checklists, which identify wearing parts on John Deere and competitor machines that can be checked and replaced in timely fashion to minimise downtime and maintain peak operating efficiency.
Whichever search or listing tool is used, the individual part entries include not only a description but also the recommended retail price, the total cost for the quantity required, and availability at the nominated dealer’s outlet. Stock can also be checked at other locations in the case of a dealer with more than one branch.
Users can create “wish lists” of parts they want to order in future, and use the shopping cart to place an order with their nominated dealer.
With several features being available on the site it is helpful that a tutorial is included so that new users can make best use of this resource.
Adam Metcalfe North Yorkshire
Contractor Adam Metcalfe is a stickler for detail when it comes to recording costs against individual tractors and machines in his fleet and using the JDParts system is a help in that respect.
“I used to ring or fax the dealer’s parts department and try to describe what I wanted but with the best will in the world, you don’t necessarily get it right every time,” he says.
“The online system means I can correctly identify the part, check the price and see what’s in stock before ordering and easily allocate invoices to the records for individual machine.”
It’s also helpful to be able to use the system at any time of day or night, he adds, there are no arguments over carriage costs from placing an incorrect order and because the an order confirmation email goes straight to the parts manager’s computer, it’s there to be dealt with straight away or first thing in the morning.
“For convenience, speed and ease of ordering the right parts, there’s no doubt it makes life easier for me and the dealer,” says Mr Metcalfe.