The future is here

By Ken Griswold, MacKay & Company

Whether getting industry updates from the web, attending a conference or conversing with colleagues, most of us are aware that the economy and aftermarket demand exceeded expectations in 2017. This positive momentum produced favorable financial results for most in our industry.

Looking forward, 2018 looks to be another great year. The current economic expansion, fueled by increased investment and optimism, is poised to become the second longest in U.S. history by mid-year. Commercial vehicle aftermarket forecasts also are favorable.

In short, we are in good times.

It is always great to be in a good position, but don’t take your foot off the gas just yet. With a multitude of disruptors being presented, processing needs to be elevated to a new level. Business leaders need to comprehend the volume of new technology, the speed of implementation and the strategic impact on the bottom line.

For the engineering minded, we are facing an exponential technology curve never experienced before — see Moore’s Law. For the rest of us, just think of the “Wave of Market Disruptors” as an industry tsunami.

So how big is this “Wave of Market Disruptors”?

At Heavy Duty Aftermarket Dialogue (HDAD) in January in Las Vegas, the market disruptors were presented from both a product and a distribution perspective. From the product side, the disruptors presented were aerodynamics, electric vehicles, telematics, autonomous vehicles and platooning. From the distribution perspective, the Amazon effect and e-commerce were highlighted.

For sure, the industry will change because of these new technologies. Although the market dynamics and associated impacts to the industry are complex, a few major observations can be made. The new product technologies will change the parts profile significantly. Traditional body components, for example, will morph into aerodynamic fairings. Crash avoiding and communication systems with advanced sensors, radars, cameras and other electronics will generate a new, advanced product category. Crash avoidance technology also will diminish the demand for parts.

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U.S. replacement demand for Class 6-8, trailers and container chassis already have seen shifts. Traditional components and cab and chassis components have both declined 5 percent in the past 10 years, while new electronic components, emissions and automated manual transmissions have increased 10 percent. The new component category could possibly be 35 percent of the parts profile by 2030. A MacKay & Company fleet survey in December 2017 with 700 respondents ranked “Complexity of New Components” as the biggest challenge they are anticipating over the next year.

The new product technologies also will change how vehicles are serviced. Telematics, vehicle IoT devices and predictive analytics will reduce shop time and open endless service scenarios. Online vehicle diagnostics will greatly in-crease on-the-road service opportunities.

The Amazon effect and e-commerce disruptors already are realities. From the final mile to technology-enabled sales, everything from the point of order to the delivered part will be pushed to a new level of optimization.

So how big is the wave of disruption and how do we react? That question might best be answered within your own operation. Delphi Automotive recently announced it was splitting into two companies to better position themselves for the new technologies. Many others are realigning as well.

Take a moment to enjoy the good times, but don’t take too long. The “Wave of Market Disruptors” is a substantial opportunity that will lift visionary organizations to the next level.

Ken Griswold is director of market strategy and sales at MacKay & Company. He can be reached at ken.griswold@mackayco.com.

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