Case Study: Reduced Component Usage and Wasted Warranty Returns

One of the largest transportation logistics companies in North America hired Purkeys to solve electrical challenges as their fleet grew to 3,000 tractors in 1989.

Due to the rapid growth, the Client had inefficient procedures in place, was not using the right products or testing equipment properly, and some technicians were not adequately trained. Starters and alternators failed and batteries died quickly. “It was a bad situation,” said Bruce Purkey, founder and chief creative engineer at Purkeys. “The Client spent a lot of money replacing parts and also around a million dollars a year on jump-starts.”

The Client attempted to resolve the issues by throwing away or returning parts for manufacturing warranty. Products submitted for warranty were returned, which cost the Client time and money.

While the Client’s electrical problems were not resolved overnight, Purkeys established a three-phase process in order to identify the critical issues first.

Purkeys’ first step was to identify the problem. They gathered data and looked at the issues from a statistical standpoint to see what kind of life the Client was getting out of their products.

After identifying the problems, Purkeys determined the correct batteries, alternators, starters and wiring to use on the Client’s tractors. Purkeys then went to all Client locations and trained staff on how to properly test equipment and follow appropriate processes. After the initial consultation, Purkeys provided ongoing training to staff.

“You cannot go out and fix everything at one time,” explained Purkey. “What is he doing right? What is he doing wrong? There are certain things that are more critical.  There are critical things you have to do, and things you would like to do, but it is the critical things we have to address first.  First, make sure the equipment works, and then make sure they know how to use it.”

A critical aspect in Purkeys’ solution was the Client’s willingness and support to resolve the costly challenges. This enforced the new and improved training and procedures. Purkey noted that the Client’s boss said “You better do what Purkey said to do.”

Finally, Purkeys would routinely go back to the Client and checked on the staff and test products. Some of the issues they found included people forgetting how to test properly and follow new procedures.

Purkeys immediately saved money for the Client by significantly reducing the number of jump-starts and improper product warranty procedures.

Installing the proper products, developing new testing procedures and training staff reduced the Client’s annual purchase of batteries by 78%, alternators by 92% and starters by 89% over the course of a few years and continues today.

Purkeys maintains positive results by monitoring the Client’s product warranty programs. “The real value we bring to Clients is we monitor their warranty results, we can tell that the training did not take by the amount of warranty claims,” Purkey said. “We can see problems before the Clients know. That’s our job.”

When asked about the Client’s success with its electrical system, Purkey said,

“I like to think we played a part in some of their success. They have also been very good to us for the last 24 years. That’s what everything is all about. After all these years, they still value in having us around. We continue to build custom solutions that give them a competitive advantage in the industry.”

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