To understand what benefits using an OEM can bring, it’s important to understand first what an OEM is. It’s easy enough to search online for the definition by typing “what is an OEM” into a web browser, which inevitably brings up the acronym’s meaning: “original equipment manufacturer.” Yet the benefits an OEM provides to manufacturers go beyond providing original parts or equipment to their customers. Using an OEM often offers a manufacturer many benefits, and these advantages often give a manufacturer an edge.
What Is an OEM?
On the surface, this seems like a pretty straightforward question. In a nutshell, an OEM is the original maker of a piece of equipment, most often regarding a single component within a system or specific piece of machinery. The OEM's product is often sold to a value-added reseller, which then augments it by incorporating additional features or services into the product. When a manufacturer looks to buy OEM parts, these are components that are identical to those originally put into the equipment. For example, an OEM part could refer to a spinning rotor or a rotary airlock valve used in a specific piece of milling equipment. While another rotor or valve could work in the equipment, one that matches the original design exactly is much more likely to work without problems.
What is an OEM Good For?
An OEM is good for many things, as we’ll soon see. Let’s take a quick look at how an OEM can be beneficial, especially regarding the manufacturers with which it works.
5 benefits of an OEM are:
1. Equipment & Component Rebuilds
OEM parts perform better and for longer durations than non-OEM components, providing manufacturers better value for the money. These parts are specifically made for the piece of equipment and typically are of much higher quality. This is because the OEM made the component in the first place, so they have the original blueprints and designs readily available. For this reason, parts from an OEM are best for rebuilding equipment or components.
While the initial cost of the part may be a bit more, a buyer will save in the long run, as the rebuilt equipment or component will last longer when OEM parts are used. An OEM vendor also has more to lose if their parts aren’t of the highest quality, as they depend more than other manufacturers on ongoing business relationships with manufacturers.
2. Preventive Maintenance
Not properly maintained equipment affects productivity. Manufacturers can’t afford to have equipment that underperforms or fails often. A key factor in preventing downtime on production lines involves regular inspections and maintenance, along with conducting repairs before equipment fails. Preventive maintenance keeps machinery running, lowering the need for emergency repairs.
Certain OEMs will even provide preventive maintenance services as a package after a sale. So, when choosing an OEM vendor, it makes sense to know what services they offer. This after-sales support brings in personnel with expertise in maintaining this specialized equipment, which a manufacturer’s workers may lack. Using maintenance personnel not authorized by an OEM will often void warranties and may not even fix a problem.
3. Quality & Durability
While manufacturers of non-OEM components have a place in the parts market, they don’t provide the same level of quality and often don’t last long. This is largely because imitations of OEM parts often use lower quality materials, and they don’t have access to original OEM component blueprints. While they may be cheaper, these parts are also less durable and more prone to failure, making them a more expensive option.
OEM parts will be made from scratch and based on original designs. An OEM company works directly with their customers to produce products that perform exactly the same as the original. Additionally, OEM vendors work to improve quality and durability of the products they sell, with some manufacturers having testing facilities to improve their equipment. This ensures these parts will have much longer lifespans than non-OEM components.
4. Support & Warranties
When a manufacturer approaches an OEM, it’s contacting the company that made the equipment. That means its technicians and engineers have direct access to a wide array of materials and support that a non-OEM manufacturer couldn’t provide. While not all OEM vendors provide every necessary service, you’re more likely to find experienced and knowledgeable technical staff when calling an OEM for support.
An OEM’s support staff often can assist with:
- Enquiring about component availability and price
- Information on warranties
- Making available blueprints and other technical documentation
- Ordering replacement parts
- Preventive maintenance agreements
- Product manuals
- Providing a history of parts ordered
- Providing technical support
- Rebuilding equipment or components
- Repairing or servicing equipment in the field
- Returning of unneeded or unused parts
- Shipping inquiries
With an OEM company, many spare parts are covered by a manufacturer’s warranty with an OEM company. If a component arrives with any defects or faults, it’s more likely an OEM will resolve the problem.
5. Training Programs
Many OEM companies invest in employee training to introduce new hires, and veteran personnel using their equipment will be knowledgeable about its workings. This provides a number of benefits for a manufacturer, including engaging employees, improving product quality, and reducing costs.
Training often improves the following:
- Employee engagement involves continuous improvement of products and processes. Empowering workers to improve performance on production lines while also enabling them to learn new methods and skills. This supportive environment also teaches employees how to do their jobs more effectively.
- Improved product quality will emanate from this training, as workers learn more efficient ways to complete tasks. When employees acquire new knowledge that enhances their skills and enables them to do better work, this improves efficiency all along the production line.
- Operational flexibility results when more employees learn specialized skills. In any workplace, an employee may become ill, require a leave of absence or even leave their job. To deal with these unexpected events, cross-training employees to step in when other workers are absent or when demand peaks help a manufacturer remain agile.
Employees tasked with maintaining and operating equipment should understand how to adjust, repair, and service it. By knowing the correct operational processes, stakeholders can keep production lines running.