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Uncapping the True Value of OEM Products

By: Chad Larrabee, Services Strategy Leader, Compression Technologies & Services, Ingersoll Rand

We’ve all been there. We pick up the less expensive brand in an effort to save a few bucks, but end up losing out because the cheaper item isn’t high-quality. It happens to the best of us across a multitude of products and industries. I definitely see my fair share of it in the compressed air industry. When it comes to industrial manufacturing, original equipment manufacturer(OEM) parts are an operator’s best choice to maintain maximum reliability and performance. Non-standard parts can expose equipment to unnecessary wear and tear that can lead to downtime and higher operating costs. 


My friend Steve learned this lesson first-hand. When replacing the gas cap on his wife’s car, he figured he could get away with using a third-party gas cap instead of purchasing the OEM cap. The third-party cap was cheaper than the OEM cap by $30, but it ended up costing Steve $135 because of the issues it caused. Steve’s $135 loss was actually minimal compared to what it could have been.If Steve put a third-party filter on a compressor, he could have experienced a much greater financial hit. That’s because when operators take a chance on a “will-fit” filter on a compressor, it impacts the compressor’s entire filtration system. The filtration system has an inlet air filter, an oil filter and an air/oil separator. These consumable filters protect the key compressor component: the airend. Incorporating a “will-fit,” non-OEM filter into the system exposes compressed air equipment to a number of issues including: 

Premature and catastrophic failure of the bearings within the airend due to compromised quality of the coolant now being fed to the airend from the filter 

Elevated differential pressure or PSID which causes compressors to use excessive amounts of electricity unnecessarily 

Compromises and shortens the lifespan of a compressor 


Sticking with OEM parts is the safest way to lessen the likelihood of these issues. Here’s a few key benefits of using genuine OEM parts:  


1. Lower total cost of ownership 


Saving a bit of upfront money on a filter which has the form and fit of the OEM part, may cost plants more down the road. Function is the most important criteria, and the function is always inferior with generics. 


2. Genuine parts meet exact equipment specifications determined by the original manufacturer, backed by rigorous testing 


OEMs build their parts and equipment, thus know the exact specifications. It’s as simple as that. 


3. OEM parts meet engineering standards with revision control 


Generally, OEMs are consistently developing and improving their products. This benefits plants because parts are backed by extensive research and testing that is applied to new versions.  


4. Genuine OEM parts qualify for parts coverage programs 


Some OEMs offer additional years of coverage on the airend if plants use their OEM parts. This coverage often includes warranties or maintenance services that can help keep operations running longer to decrease downtime. 


5. Safety and risk management 


Genuine OEM parts function safely as designed. ISO qualifications ensure processes and products are high-quality. I’ve seen much less fortunate situations with customers who took a chance on a generic lubricant with low flash point or separator elements, which ended up caving and dumping the sump downstream. 


The moral of the story is that genuine OEM parts fit and perform to the compressor’s exact specifications. While knock-off parts may fit, it’s what is on the inside that matters. Third-party parts are not designed to support the level of performance compressed air systems require.