Author Topic: Product vs. Parts  (Read 2440 times)

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Puddington

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Product vs. Parts
« on: August 03, 2014, 11:01:16 AM »
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In numerous threads I see a number of modellers that are often as interested in, or even more interested in specific parts of a upcoming model than they are the model itself. This is understandable; if for example you have been long suffering waiting for say Flexicoil trucks, the possibility of Micro Trains toolong them for their model is exciting.

Turn to Friday at work; a guy calls; very agressive in his tone and starts asking all kinds of questions about the interchangability of some trucks we are tooling for a upcoming product. "Will they fit x or y, will they have a universal mounting center, when (not if he can) can he buy them, how much will we charge, can his hobby shop order them at full discount..... When I couldn't answer his question on interchangability (we don't know or really care if our truck fits a 20 year old model) and said we don't usually sell our OEM parts separately (other than some car trucjs and passenger car part) he went nuts.... His basic premise was we HAD to sell any part a modeller needs because he needs it.

OEM companies make money by selling models. Parts company's like Miniatures by Eric make money selling parts. If we decide to sell parts them it's really only doing so to assist modellers because it's not our core business and we don't carry parts (we don't carry inventory at all)

Should modellers expect OEM company's to carry and make parts available? Is this a realistic expectation in a mfg that doesn't make and carry inventory....? Is it a "requirement" of modern day company's to serve the market and if so, is it reasonable to expect such inventory to command premium prices, reflecting the cost of carrying otherwise unneccesary inventory?

I'm interested in your opinions and thoughts.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2014, 11:05:54 AM by Puddington »
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John

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Re: Product vs. Parts
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2014, 11:03:40 AM »
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It's reasonable for me to be able to purchase "repair" parts .. things like trucks and easily broken items like handrails should be in stock .. look at atlas and kato for a prototype

Puddington

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Re: Product vs. Parts
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2014, 11:09:33 AM »
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Very true John: however we actually offer to fix the models for free more often than not... But yes, parts that get easily broken must be available.... Would include trucks for a locomotive in that list? I would not have done so but.......
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MVW

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Re: Product vs. Parts
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2014, 11:14:57 AM »
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Easy question to answer. If it would be even slightly profitable for you to carry a small amount of parts inventory, then it should be done. If not, well, you're not in business to lose money, and any reasonable customer would rather that you stay in business instead of going broke trying to satisfy the whims of a few.

I can't imagine it would be cost-prohibitive to order a slight overrun on parts. (All the money goes for making the first one, right?) But I suspect the labor cost of filling parts orders would make it a losing proposition.

Jim

Chris333

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Re: Product vs. Parts
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2014, 11:17:02 AM »
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I'd just ask the MFG to put a ton of spares in a bag with the next shipment.

I mean I don't think you need to set up a website and give everything it's own part number and package, but it would be nice to be able to get the parts some way.


I had a Walther's 0-8-0 that I broke one of the crank rods on. It would have been a .25 cent part, but since Walther's doesn't sell parts I had to pay over $100 for a whole new loco  :oops:

glakedylan

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Re: Product vs. Parts
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2014, 11:20:00 AM »
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well...my 2 cents...fwiw:

I think it is in the manufacturer's best interest to supply replacement parts.
I do not think it is realistic for an inventory of replacement parts for a product manufactured a decade of or ago.

I especially think that inquiries from customers to the manufacturer should always be in courtesy, respect, and positive ways of communicating.
I do not think it is unrealistic to contact a manufacturer with such a request.

I am adamant that all such requests be handled by both customer and manufacturer with a mutual polite and helpful manner.

As for the example cited by OP, I think there was sufficient reason and cause for that customer to be put in his/her place and if they did not comply with request for appropriate and realistic communication that ending such call with a simple "sorry, we/I cannot help you" and "hang up" is within normal expectation.

kindest regards
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C855B

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Re: Product vs. Parts
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2014, 11:42:23 AM »
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Frankly, I think Atlas' approach to parts is outstanding. Parts down to the rivet level - or so it seems - are freely available, and it's also obvious that they ask their OEMs to make more parts than would be otherwise required for normal manufacturing overages. I have availed myself from their parts catalog on multiple occasions. Kato, too... for example, the stock sideframes on the SD45 is not correct for UP, but they make one that is. And sell it (...or sold it... OOS, I think...) as a separate part. Problem solved and model fidelity increased with minimal effort.

Having parts available this way strengthens the hobby and reduces frustration for those of us who give a damn.
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wcfn100

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Re: Product vs. Parts
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2014, 12:12:02 PM »
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Having parts available this way strengthens the hobby

I don't think it can be said better.

So I guess the real question is, are you in it to strengthen the hobby are just for yourselves.


Jason

VonRyan

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Re: Product vs. Parts
« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2014, 12:22:14 PM »
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I think that companies should indeed have parts on hand, but the quantity of parts should be a small percentage more than what would be expected for repairs that way modelers who want the parts for other projects aren't denying someone else a running model.

I also think that companies should have a dedicated contact point outside of customer service for issues with products, specifically locomotives. I emailed Dapol about my 57xx months ago, never got so much as an automated reply saying that they got my email.
And for that matter, companies should do their own repair work. Dapol farms out their repair work, and to me that is bad practice since that 3rd party could end up charging me for the repair work. My Dapol GWR 57xx never ran 100% well. At least two of the issues were present from the beginning, i.e. they are more than likely QC issues as well as the result of slapdash assembly practices. Even the store I bought it from wouldn't do anything for me.
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Philip H

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Re: Product vs. Parts
« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2014, 12:30:06 PM »
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How many of us ha e groaned over the loss of Sunrise? How many Miniarures by Eric parts are running around on non-Canadian locks as stand in's?

Make spare truck side frames, horns, bells - anything that's applied to the model. And then when Jason is casting about fir his next wild hare, look at the HO line of cabs from Canon and Co.
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peteski

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Re: Product vs. Parts
« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2014, 01:08:04 PM »
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I'd just ask the MFG to put a ton of spares in a bag with the next shipment.

I mean I don't think you need to set up a website and give everything it's own part number and package, but it would be nice to be able to get the parts some way.

I had a Walther's 0-8-0 that I broke one of the crank rods on. It would have been a .25 cent part, but since Walther's doesn't sell parts I had to pay over $100 for a whole new loco  :oops:

You would think so, but from what I heard from the manufacturers, it is not as easy as having the Chinese contractor run an extra batch of parts.  When they are contracted to produce X number of models, they are unwilling to produce extra unembarrassed parts. The fact that some of the parts are subcontracted by the Chinese manufacturer from yet other external companies, this gets really convoluted. 

The bottom line is that having extra parts made is very difficult.  You can thank outsourcing for that.  Kato and Bachmann (since they make their own model and have much better control of their process) provide an extensive parts inventory. Atlas seems to have figured out a way to make this work for them with the external companies and also provides excellent parts service.  Other manufacturers rate from good to non existent parts inventory.

Some European manufacturers have very extensive parts service (just look at the Fleischmann website).  I am also told that in Germany hobby shops can easily order parts directly from the manufacturers.  To bad this is not done in US.

As others have mentioned, keeping an inventory of parts is also an added expense (which nowadays is a really bad thing).

I am a tinkerer who often needs parts to modify my models.  I am very grateful to the companies which provide parts service.  I wish that they all would, but it seems that this is no to be. There is nothing I can do about it. If Rapido can also offer a parts service, I would be very grateful.  But I know that tinkerers like me are a very small minority in the overall scheme of things.

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learmoia

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Re: Product vs. Parts
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2014, 01:43:24 PM »
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I'm interested in your opinions and thoughts.

When he got pissy.. you should have just said.. Yes, we sell spare trucks $60 a pair.. and it comes with a free car but we choose the road name.

 :trollface: ~Ian
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learmoia

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Re: Product vs. Parts
« Reply #12 on: August 03, 2014, 01:47:22 PM »
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Atlas seems to have figured out a way to make this work for them with the external companies and also provides excellent parts service. 

If it's really that much of a hassle.. are they parting out Undec's?  ~Ian
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peteski

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Re: Product vs. Parts
« Reply #13 on: August 03, 2014, 01:56:57 PM »
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If it's really that much of a hassle.. are they parting out Undec's?  ~Ian

I don't know, but I doubt it. I think that Atlas figured out a way to properly deal with the company they contract and with their subcontractors.
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GaryHinshaw

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Re: Product vs. Parts
« Reply #14 on: August 03, 2014, 02:04:08 PM »
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So I guess the real question is, are you in it to strengthen the hobby are just for yourselves.

It's not really an either/or proposition.  If you can find a way to offer parts without losing money, you should.  That requires some analysis of what the pricing would have to be and how many customers are likely to buy at that price.