Meritor currently services over 300 heavy vehicle outlets across the nation incorporating all major truck OEMs in addition to an expansive independent network.
Its aftermarket warehouse in Derrimut, Victoria employs 30 full time staff including technical and customer support teams.
As a leader in axle and braking systems for heavy vehicles over the best part of a century, Meritor, although a global presence, has always focused on providing customers with premium local support.
An obligation to satisfy local market needs, through new opportunities and products, underpins the mission of the company in Australia.
Meritor, more recently, has made it clear that it is committed to significantly growing its aftermarket presence.
In the fast-moving, high-volume consumable parts category, the business has made major strides through recent product range expansion.
Targeting value-conscious customers, Meritor has launched a Red Range, an Australian initiative in which the products are developed using local feedback and are painted in the distinctive Meritor red colour.
Meritor Australia is updating the range regularly with slack adjusters the latest addition to the line-up that includes brake drums and brake chambers. Under this tier 2 offering Meritor aims to produce high-quality aftermarket parts designed and engineered to OEM or Meritor specifications but at an affordable price point when compared to the original equipment Meritor Genuine branded product.
A tiered offering enables Meritor to better cater to the needs of customers no matter what lifecycle stage their vehicles are at according to Adam Carroll, Meritor Product & Marketing Manager.
“There are also some big growth targets set for the Meritor Australia aftermarket business and we are looking for every opportunity to grow that with product which suits the local needs here,” he says.
“In addition we also anticipated there would be delays in our supply chains with the onset of the COVID-19 situation and a credit to the hard work of our supply chain team, so far we have managed to cover most of it. That is something we are working hard on here as part of our local value proposition. We are aiming to have the right offering at the right price — either a premium Meritor Genuine or a Tier 2 Meritor aftermarket part that is ready and here for our customers when they need it.”
Indeed, a recent customer survey conducted by Aftermarket Sales Manager Robert Evans found that Meritor has been achieving these aspirational goals. Meritor, per the customer feedback, was acknowledged as one of the better suppliers in the industry for being able to maintain inventory in its Derrimut Warehouse throughout the COVID disruption.
Stock supply and forecasting were two areas identified by customers that Meritor continued to excel in despite ongoing upheavals across the global supply chain that are still impacting Australia and the Pacific region. Such an endorsement can only validate Meritor’s development of new products in conjunction with its customers to suit the local conditions.
Other manufacturers such as trailer axle builders with healthy market shares in Australia, are also in focus for Meritor Australia as the business hones in on growing its aftermarket share.
“We are trying to develop our aftermarket offering to satisfy those customers who have mix of other manufacturer’s product in their fleet,” says Adam.
“Through this kind of approach we are seeking to expand from our traditional truck axle and driveline products into adjacent and complementary products.”
Having entered the trailer sector locally in 2020, Meritor is also in the process of releasing a range of aluminium wheels to complement the MTA25 trailer axle it already offers here in Australia as an original equipment supplier.
The aluminium wheels have been rigorously tested to exceed SAE J267 standards for proven reliability.
Cold flow-forming after forging makes the wheel structure more uniform and compact to increase the strength and anti-deforming capacity according to Meritor.
The new lightweight alloy wheel range complements the range of lightweight steel shell brake drums which Meritor pioneered in the market, while achieving a 20 per cent weight reduction in comparison to standard cast drums.
Along with these new products, key investments have also been made locally by Meritor Australia to bolster its existing capability for local support.
Some $USD300,000 has been invested on a new brake shoe production machine housed in Derrimut, Victoria to automate what is currently performed manually on riveting machines.
Robot riveter ROSIE, as the machine is named, is currently in a trial phase and once fully operational is expected to almost double Meritor’s production capabilities for brake shoe kit assembly further improving lead times and supply.
Meritor Australia also strives to offer periodic refresher training programs for new and existing team members within its dealer networks. In keeping with this, Queensland Territory Manager Wayne Pulford recently conducted training with Parts and Service teams in Townsville.
As Meritor expands its aftermarket range the aim of the training is to equip each participant with valuable Meritor product knowledge to deepen the service customers are provided through a better understanding of Meritor products and applications.
With a mix of European, Japanese, and North American trucks on the road in Australia, having local representation and a dedicated field team to support the retail network in identifying the parts and service Meritor can offer is crucial to the company’s ongoing success.
“We’re certainly working with customers every day,” says Adam.
“It might be on whether we can approve an axle for a new application or whether there is a unique specification that will do the job more efficiently. For example, we recently released a linehaul spec of our popular MT-160 series tandem drive axle, which is a specific pumpless, higher efficiency, lower operating temperature axle that is targeted specifically at helping linehaul fleets.
“We are continuously improving and introducing new products in our offering.”
Support at a local level from Meritor Australia extends further than just technical services.
Last year, as part of a customer incentive, Meritor in partnership with a National OEM Truck distributor gave away a brand-new customised Mitsubishi Triton Ute to a regional dealer in Wagga Wagga.
This promotion was a big success and is being repeated this year.
“We maintain the dealer networks loyalty with customer-facing and dealer-facing promotions,” says Adam. “Part of the recent survey was about communicating with our customers on how we can best work together to manage and further improve mutually beneficial growth. What we are foremost focused on doing here is satisfying the local market needs.”