NSF expands types of non-OEM parts; shop certification program differentiates
Atlanta—Bob Frayer, of NSF International, told non-OEM parts distributors at the recent Automotive Body Parts Association (ABPA) convention that his organization may begin certifying non-OEM core supports.
“I don’t know if that will happen, but we do continue to look into it as a possibility,” Frayer said. “From our perspective, it’s a very difficult part to certify. The amount of time you have to spend, and the energy and the money to do all the testing that’s required, makes it somewhat cost-prohibitive for the manufacturers.”
One new part type NSF will be certifying are bumper-mounted sensors used for a variety of accident-avoidance systems.
“My understanding is that OEM sensors cost about $200 apiece,” Frayer said. “So to replace that bumper cover, if you have to replace the sensors as well, it becomes a much more costly proposition.”
Frayer said certified non-OEM sensors should be considerably less expensive.
“Hopefully, they’ll be closer to $35 rather than $200,” he said.
Frayer also discussed an NSF program that involves parts being “registered” but not NSF tested and certified. NSF is now offering manufacturers of non-OEM mirrors the option to apply to have those parts NSF registered. Unlike NSF’s certification process, registration does not require audits of the manufacturer’s factories, nor in-market testing of the parts themselves. Rather, NSF reviews the design of the product to verify only that the design would allow the product to meet federal safety standards, not whether the parts actually being sold do so.
“What we’re trying to do is [offer a process] that allows the mirror manufacturer to bring a product to the market that has been evaluated by an independent third-party to verify that the design can meet those federal requirements, and do it in a way that you can bring [the part] to the market at a very low cost in terms of the additional cost relative to certifications,” Frayer said.
Such parts, which also will include some non-OEM brake components and TPMS sensors — will be marked as “NSF Registered” rather than just having the NSF logo.
Discusses shop certification
Frayer discussed what he thinks sets NSF’s collision shop certification program apart: inspections of the vehicles actually being repaired by those shops
“This is where our auditors are looking over the shoulder of the person doing the repair, and we’re going out and checking cars that have been repaired to make sure they were repaired properly,” he said.
Most shop certification programs, he said, only ensure a shop has the equipment and training to do the work properly, not whether they actually are.
“In our opinion, looking at the back end is certainly just as critical — if not more critical — than looking at the front end,” Frayer said. “You can have the right equipment and training, but are you doing the repair properly? It would be like certifying a manufacturer by saying, ‘Yeah, they have the right equipment and are using the right material, so you don’t have to worry about the parts they are making.’ Yes, we still have to worry about the parts they are making. They still have to use the equipment properly, and they still have to be able to apply the training. So the same thing applies to shops. You can’t just assume because they have the right equipment and training they are going to be repairing cars properly.”
Insurer offers parts stats
Also speaking at the ABPA convention, Gerry Poirier, a strategy manager and technical adviser for Farmers Insurance, said his company paid for about $1 million non-OEM parts last year, representing 21 percent of the 4.7 million total parts Farmers purchased for repairable vehicles. Approximately, 3.1 million of the total were new OEM parts, 250,000 were used parts, and 200,000 were “opt-OE.”
He said his company hears less now about fit issues related to non-OEM parts than vendor service issues, such as warranty and refund concerns. He urged the parts distributors to be accurate in the data feed information given to parts locating systems, particularly about the zip codes in which they can meet delivery requirements.
He also said that although Farmers requires its direct repair shops to use only certified non-OEM crash parts, some plastic parts such as bumper covers, grilles and fender liners do not have to be certified. For those parts, he said, he’d prefer that the parts vendors list only “insurance quality” parts, not “economy” or “value-line” type parts.
“There’s different levels of bumper covers out there,” Poirier said. “You can go in there and get one for x dollars, or go in there and get one for xxx dollars. Clearly, there’s a difference. I don’t need the x, because that’s not going to work. That’s for the guy coming off the street. I don’t need that in the data feed. But it’s coming in the data feed.”
Poirier was asked by a parts distributor what they should do if a Farmers direct repair shop has an “excessive return rate.” Poirier said to let Farmers know about it.
“Each one of our DRP shops has a Farmers consultant,” he said. “On our MSO side, we have national consultants as well as local. Anytime you’re seeing an issue like that, you need to let us know. We’ll have that consultant go into the shop and talk to them about what the issues are, whether they are real or perceived or whatever the deal is.”