In July, HDDA: Heavy Duty (part of the Auto Care Association) announced that it was defining attributes for the first five parts categories in its HD Standards Attributes project. The categories are brakes, front steer axle wheel end components, front steering axles, non-driven rear axles, and drive rear axles. Sheila Andrews, director for heavy duty aftermarkets and liaison for HDDA, spoke with Aftermarket Business World about the next steps in the process.
Q. Can you describe the research process associated with defining part attributes?
A. The attributing phase helps us define and normalize all of the different characteristics of the part in that category that a consumer or distributor will need to know in order to properly select that product when they are placing an order.
It begins with manufacturers in those parts categories providing us information; they respond to survey questions about products that they carry in those categories, and provide us information on what the important characteristics are that they use to describe parts.
We will work with our software partner, Pricedex, to create a list of attribute categories that are consistent and common. We compare and contrast differences between manufacturers. Once have all of that information compiled, it goes to a second set of subject matter experts from the data receiver side.
They will validate the compiled information and let us know that yes, when they are working with a customer, these are the pieces of information about a part that we need to know in order to sell the product.
Q. How long will this take?
A. Each category will take one month, and we’re doing 20 different categories total. What we’ve been able to do with the four axle categories is streamline that, so over the course of one month we can do all four of those at the same time. That will help in hopefully producing the standard sooner for the marketplace.
Q. What will the next phases of the project entail?
A. Once we are outside of validating the categories, there are additional pieces of information that we are going to look at creating in order to make the standards functional for the heavy duty marketplace.
One area is building out our brand tables, and making sure we have the proper relationship between manufacturers listed. For light and medium duty vehicles, we use a year/make/model lookup. For heavier classes, the are often built to a specification upon order. One of the major pieces we’re going to do is create vocational definitions.
We’re also working with the ATA in creating a way to fold in the VMRS code that the industry is using into the standard as well. I think that is an incredibly important step on the fleet maintenance side to have that consistency of standards throughout the repair and maintenance processes.
We do have an online heavy duty resource page at standards.hdda.org that includes the product categories and the schedule. If manufacturers want to participate, they can see when their categories will be surveyed.