There is nearly always a fourth option available, but it’s frequently overlooked. That option is the local representative of the engine manufacturer’s authorised distributor network. Many of them offer technicians trained on the Original Equipment Manufacturer’s (OEM) products, access to a wide range of open source and proprietary support resources and a good selection of locally stocked OEM parts.
That combination of capabilities is not usually found in one location anywhere else. Each element standing alone is important, but the combination is a compelling reason to consider using an authorised distributor as a primary source for engine service, maintenance and repair.
Perkins, and most other engine OEMs, provide training for their authorised distributor technicians. Distributor technicians meeting requirements of the Perkins Technician Certification Programme, for example, are trained to high standards, as are those of other OEMs with similar certification requirements.
Adequate training ought to cover engines of all sizes and types including legacy, emissions regulated, mechanical or electronic and leave the technician capable of performing anything from routine service to sophisticated diagnostics, complex repairs, overhauls and replacement/repower installations. It should also cover the OEM’s newest products as soon as they become available and all of the aftertreatment options offered for them.
Training at that level isn’t always available from local service organisations or independent mechanics. Given the potential cost of a mistake, it’s only sensible to verify that anyone working on an engine has been properly trained.
Not even the most highly trained and experienced technician can be expected to know every detail of every engine they may have to work on. Perkins, for example, has published more than 220,000 pages of documentation covering engines built over nearly a century. They are all available to a Perkins authorised distributor technician, and the same is true of other OEMs.
Specialised tools are another resource someone other than an authorised distributor technician is less likely to have. More than 400 different tools are available for Perkins engines including up to 30 per engine family and that number is probably typical for many OEMs. Among the most important of these for a Perkins distributor technician is the Perkins Electronic Service Tool (EST) which lets them connect to a modern electronic engine, edit parameters, programme ECMs, replace configuration files and more.
Parts are another critical resource, and even the largest distributor is unlikely to stock every part for every engine. As a member of an OEM distribution network, however, a local distributor may be able to access a much larger inventory to fulfil local needs. This can be particularly important when the part needed is not a common one and a machine is down until it can be supplied.
Genuine OEM parts are engineered and produced by the same people who designed the engine. That is important, because ‘will fit’ like an OEM part does not necessarily mean ‘will function’ like an OEM part.
Perkins® Ecoplus fuel filters are a good example. They are designed to protect precision fuel system components under the high operating pressures and temperatures found in today’s engines.
Other OEM filters offer optimised protection for their engines. The point is not that one is better than the other, but rather that a genuine OEM part almost certainly represents the best choice for that OEM’s engine.
Filters are only one example of the reasons to insist on genuine OEM parts regardless of who works on an engine. It really does matter, and saving a little on the price of a filter or part now can cost a lot later.
An authorised distributor really is a local business with an in-depth understanding of, and commitment to, the particular needs and preferences of the community they serve. While many think of them only as a source of parts, they actually have a lot more to offer. Where else are you likely to find trained technicians, comprehensive support resources and a stock of parts tailored to local needs all under the same roof and only a local phone call away?