Perkins Latin American agricultural support initiative is breaking new ground.

Agricultural equipment tends to have a unique duty cycle, sometimes described as six weeks of frantic activity followed by periods of downtime. The frantic activity happens when crops are planted and harvested and the downtime happens while they are growing.


 

 

Unscheduled downtime during the ‘frantic’ periods can be devastating to growers since it means either crops aren’t planted or aren’t harvested on schedule. The cycle also creates a major challenge for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), their supply chains and support networks who have to deliver the parts and services needed to keep the equipment working.
 

Agricultural support strategy

As a major supplier of engines for tractors built and used in Latin America, Perkins has encountered this challenge while supporting both OEMs and end users through their parts distribution and authorised distributor networks. However, unlike some suppliers who simply view the issue as a normal part of doing business, Perkins chose to address it proactively and develop a solution.

“Our medium engine programmes have been very successful here in Brazil,” explained Rafael Souza, marketing manager for LATAM. “Virtually every OEM we have worked with to develop an engine solution now offers a Perkins powered tractor in this size range.

“Significant portions of that fleet are now reaching 3,000 to 4,000 hours of usage and that’s when things often begin to wear out and need replacement. So, it was time to get ahead of the issue rather than waiting for it to manifest.”

To implement a successful solution that had encountered similar challenges, technical expert Marcelo Costa found out more about a pilot programme that had been run and tested within the wider Enterprise in the U.S. Pacific Northwest with strong positive results. That programme had combined pre-frantic period engine inspections with a dealer seasonal part stocking initiative based on historic usage patterns.

“The idea,” Marcelo said, “was to identify and remedy potential equipment problems before the intensive use period and also make sure routine maintenance was being performed. That way major issues could be addressed during normal downtime and a machine wouldn’t be sidelined for something like an oil or filter change when it was needed in the field.

“The second part of the programme made sure that parts that commonly needed replacement during the ‘frantic’ periods were pre-positioned on local shelves for timely delivery. That could make the difference between a few hours of downtime and a few days waiting for parts to arrive from a distant warehouse.

“The programme was a win-win for everyone involved. End users achieved more uptime during ‘frantic’ periods. Dealers and distributors built customer satisfaction and loyalty with timely delivery of parts and service. And, the OEM fortified their reputation for reliability and dependable customer support.
 

Tailored solutions for Latin America

“While the North American programme offered the framework for a viable solution,” Marcelo said, “there are significant differences in the agricultural practices in the two locations that had to be taken into account.”

For example, North America generally plants two crops annually, while warmer Latin America tends to plant three. Latin American crops also tend to vary more from region to region than is typical to the north.

Moreover, the Perkins powered tractors used in Latin America typically are used with a much larger variety of implements to perform a greater range of tasks than their North American counterparts. That places different demands on the engines and complicates maintenance and service requirements as well as impacting part wear characteristics.

“There also are purely local issues in Latin America and particularly in Brazil,” Rafael added. “One of the big ones is the growing use of Biodiesel and the changing legal requirements surrounding it. That makes it difficult for end users to stay abreast of best practices and the result is all too often a damaged engine.

“It’s hot in Brazil, and storing fuel with a portion of Biodiesel in a black tank under the sun when it’s 40° C (104° F) is definitely not a best practice. Nevertheless, it’s often done. Water contamination also is a common issue that often leads to injection pump failures.”
 

Working together to deliver the right solutions

With these differences in mind, Marcelo invited a team of individuals who had created the North American programme to Brazil to work with Perkins, local distributors and OEM tractor manufacturers to develop a solution for Latin America. The manufacturers were included because their secondary dealer locations frequently are the initial contact points for end users.

“In Latin America, Perkins authorised distributors aren’t the only organisation supporting end users of our engines,” Rafael explained. Without buy-in from the OEMs and their secondary dealer organisations the programme wouldn’t be able to achieve the kind of reach we envision. The goal is to duplicate the results achieved in the pilot programme while fully addressing the differences in the Latin American market.”

Perkins distributors have responded to the new programme enthusiastically. One major customer will be presenting the programme to their dealer and secondary dealer networks at their annual meeting in Q4, 2023. Others have indicated similar intent to implement the new capabilities in the near future.

“Customer support always has been a major focus at Perkins,” Rafael added. “As we powered more and more Latin American tractors we recognised the need to implement innovative new support strategies. This agricultural support initiative is the next step, but I can guarantee it’s not the last. Our customers demand constant improvement, and we’re determined to meet the challenge.”


 

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