Industry debate: OEM vs universal spare parts

We asked a number of independent spare parts specialists where they stood on the issue of genuine OEM parts and whether there was more inclination for customers to seek out cheaper, universal alternatives in the current economic climate. Here are their views:

Bryn Vivian, Sales & Administration Director, GEV

“This is a subject of increasing debate and interpretation. The vast majority of our parts are sourced from the OEM or the original producer. Furthermore, all of them will rightly be commercial-grade and properly certified. Provided parts are kept at reasonable price levels, OEM should remain in balance with universal parts. However, GEV’s overriding objective is to support service companies to effectively repair any piece of kit for their customer by providing them with the right part for the job.”

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John Whitehouse, Managing Director, First Choice

“Genuine parts are recommended for many reasons and these are well-documented through ourselves and CESA. Universal parts have some place in the market as they offer the customer the chance of a quick and temporary repair but these should only be consumable van stock items.

"Our observations are that end-users request the genuine parts and so should get them. The price isn’t normally the issue — it’s the availability. As long as we work closely with the OEMs we can support with local stock and provide faster solutions. We all have time restraints and so I believe that if we can offer a great service to our customers for OEM parts, there really isn’t a place for pattern parts.”

Jonathan Booth, Managing Director, CCS

“There have always been universal parts and there always will be, but there is a distinction between these and fake parts passed off as OEM parts, and these are what need eliminating from the market. All the major customers driven by the end-users insist on OEM parts as they are essential for the functioning of the equipment, complying with ever-lengthening warranty times and, ultimately, the survival of the manufacturers in the market. One rider I would add is that everyone’s margins are continually being squeezed and manufacturers have to be aware that having very high margins on some parts will create an opportunity for fakes.

Mark Brooks, Director, LF Spare Parts

“LF Group supplies and recommends the use of original components in the spare parts market. We believe that it is also necessary, both in the current economic climate and in response to demand, to provide access to universal parts. In all cases, it is vital that parts are clearly identified as original components or as a cheaper alternative — with all the quality implications that entails — and let the market choose. We clearly identify all original, compatible and low-cost parts in our sales offer.

Nick Hughes, Managing Director, Euro Catering Parts

“The client is key and we will always strive to give them as much assistance as we can to reach their requirements. We are striving to have all manufacturers on board so we can offer genuine OEM parts, so this is an important part of our plans, however like many other spare parts providers we need to have the facility to offer universal parts where equipment is not easily identified.”

Shaun Gamble, Commercial Director, Caterparts

“We have always supported the use of genuine OEM parts. Our all-new warewashing catalogue reinforces this commitment by detailing all models and OEM codes alongside our parts, making identification all the more easier. Our view is that this is a much more crucial issue for the prime cooking spares providers, which is not a key part of our business.

"However, the onus and ultimate responsibility is that of the engineer to identify, source and fit the correct parts, although wider client demands are now putting additional pressure on the ‘all-rounder’ engineer, so this in turn may lead to more universal parts being sourced.”

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