Thanks to continual advancements by parts manufacturers, there is a trend for wholesalers to stock a smaller but just as widely applicable range of parts, enabling them to meet customers’ needs while reducing their overheads.
The challenge for these wholesalers comes in working out how far they can reduce their stock without compromising their offering to workshops, or inadvertently introducing issues with fitting or efficacy.
That’s where our concept of “smart consolidation” comes in: merging products in a range just enough for wholesalers and workshops to benefit, but not so much that they experience problems.
Lambda sensors: An optimised offering
Let’s look at one component where smart consolidation is already at work: lambda sensors. Some manufacturers have identified these parts as a target for range consolidation – and with their variety of wire lengths and fit types, it is easy to see why.
But lambda sensors are a crucial component not only for optimising engine performance but also for reducing a car’s emissions – something the entire industry knows to be important in the context of global governments’ climate goals. Therefore, their performance cannot be compromised.
Consider a group of 10 different OE sensors, which all share an identical sensor core, connector type and pinout. The only differences are wire lengths. Here, DENSO puts smart consolidation into practice by selecting only three optimised wire lengths, thereby greatly improving the stock efficiency of servicing all related vehicles.
As a result, workshops can ensure maximum vehicle coverage without having to buy a prohibitive amount of stock. Having fewer parts in the workshop makes technicians’ lives easier and the right parts result in efficient and error-free fitting.
When is a saving not a saving?
Would it be possible to take the concept further and reduce the range all the way down to one cable? In theory, yes – and other manufacturers have indeed done this. However, reduce the range too much, and the constraints start to outweigh the benefits. In the case of the example in the diagram, the longest possible length would mean an excessive wire length that needs to be secured when the car is running (with cable ties, for example). With high temperatures, fast moving parts, and heavy vibrations, wire harness fixation is a safety and reliability issue that DENSO is not prepared to compromise on. In general, DENSO does not allow wire to be more than 35% over length (depending on the actual wire length). Others in the aftermarket do not apply such a limit, and may even permit wire that is more than 100% over length (122% in this example).
Over-consolidation can also incur greater installation time when connecting the sensor to the car. Some manufacturers’ sensors, even though they are already fitted with an OEM connector, require the counter-connector on the car’s wire harness to be replaced. This requires both a specific tool (to extract the wire terminals from the connector housing) and specific knowledge of the correct sequence of wires, direction of the terminals, and locking method. If the process does not go perfectly smoothly, this can easily add up to an hour of installation time – a ‘hidden cost’ of consolidating the range too severely. In contrast, DENSO uses connectors from the OE supplier which fit the maximum number of car models without counter-connector replacement, which means time saved for the workshop.
The most extreme version of consolidation is universal fit sensors. Such sensors will always require additional preparation time by cutting the wires to length and splicing them onto the original wire and connector. Though when done correctly (with the right tools, materials and methods) this provides a perfectly reliable result, preparing the sensor will significantly extend the installation time. Additionally, there are many ways that a less experienced mechanic could make a mistake – such as confusing any of the four wire connections, or using a wrong method of connection (soldering instead of mechanical crimp), wrong equipment or insufficient sealing. If any of these occurs, it goes without saying that the sensor will not work properly, which will be noticeable in the car’s driveability and fuel consumption.
When making their buying decisions, workshops should consider the costs of rectifying these situations, not just the initial costs of the parts.
Choose smart consolidation
The DENSO Lambda Sensor range is optimised for smart consolidation: maximising benefits without incurring negative impacts. Not only do the sensors themselves match strict quality standards, the segmentation of the range confers the maximum possible benefits to wholesalers and workshops, calculated across the entire life cycle of a product from purchase to installation to use, while maximising vehicle reliability.