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Sunday 4 December 2016

Online parts systems are spinning their web

Bruce Lett

Published 15/02/2012 | 06:00

Detailed manufacturers' sites help customers develop knowhow

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A few years ago, I wrote about agricultural manufacturers' parts books being available on the internet through the various manufacturers' websites. Many of these systems were developed as an alternative to paper parts books and made them accessible as long as you had access to the internet.

This is particularly applicable for the US, Australia and South America where the nearest dealer could be hundreds of miles away.

You can't exactly pop into town and lean over the parts counters and say I need that, that and that.

John Deere was the first firm I stumbled across that offered any kind of an online parts search facility.

Initially, this was quite basic but quickly evolved into an extremely useful service which featured the firm's newest and oldest products.

And it's not just for tractors, but lawnmowers and the many other products the firm produces. Deere's is perhaps the most developed system out there, where a link can be established with a local dealer to price items, check stock and place an order.

Online parts' catalogues from the Case New Holland (CNH) group also became available soon after John Deere brought in its first system. New Holland, CaseIH and Steyr online parts information can be viewed through links on the various CNH brands websites (including construction variants of the brands).

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But to many of the vintage enthusiasts' dismay, older products from CNH brands are not available to view online.

For these, a visit to the local dealer is required where they will have the information on a 'heritage' CD.

The vast majority of customer online systems are basically a simpler version of the dealer systems. In nearly all cases, the customer sees exactly what the dealer sees with part numbers and page numbers matching the dealer systems. Dealers' systems will have extra information and facilities such as part number supersession, kit details, service bulletins and pricing.

Manufacturers' online customer parts systems are exceptionally useful as a tool to aid dismantling or re-assembly of any part of the tractor or machine. While the parts information is useful, it is of course no substitute for a mechanic or main dealer experience and know-how. However, it is a very useful aid for the many amateur mechanics out there.

Another benefit, though maybe not intended by the manufacturer, is to cross-reference the manufacturers' part number with after-market suppliers such as Sparex, Vapormatic and Bepco. Each of these after-market firms make a living out of offering a cheaper alternative to the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). It has to be mentioned, though, that AGCO recently bought Sparex, and Vapormatic is owned by John Deere.

AGCO Parts Books

While John Deere and CNH have made their parts information available freely and relatively easy to access, Massey Ferguson has only recently made its catalogues available on-line.

Similar to CNH brands, Massey Ferguson's parent company, AGCO, has gradually made all of its brands, including Fendt, Valtra and Challenger, available.

In fact, I only discovered the link when accidentally logging on to Massey Ferguson's US website where the link appears.

According to Sean Gorman, AGCO area parts sales manager for Ireland, AGCO's online parts system was originally developed in North America for fleet owners that were a long distance from their local dealership. Sean said that up to now it has been mostly trade customers and fleet owners that have requested access. That might change now though.

To gain access to any of the AGCO brands in the online parts catalogues you have to request a username and password through your local dealer -- whether that is Fendt, Massey Ferguson, Valtra or Challenger. So, ultimately it is your dealer that administers the system, granting (or not) access to the online catalogues.

Through Cork Farm Machinery, Sean set me up with access to the Massey Ferguson system. I was particularly keen to see if AGCO had parts catalogues for older Massey Ferguson products available on its system.

Fortunately for me they do, which will be particularly useful for renovating and modernising my Massey Ferguson 35, Project 35. This has been moving at an incredibly slow pace, but I hope to get it back on track this spring. The second MF product I checked out was the MF 30 corn drill, which has been one of the most popular corn drills in Ireland for many years.

Searching for machines is very easy.

On the agcopartsbooks.com home page there are two main search options.

You can search by model or chassis number.

Alternatively, there is the facility to browse their catalogues in sections -- harvesting, seeding, tractors and so on.

It is all very easy to use and the website provides a history of what you have searched for, making it easy to find 'books' that you frequently use.

Once a model is selected, all of the information relating to that tractor or piece of equipment is listed on the left of the screen. This is divided into sections with a folder on each section.

Opening the folder exposes the pages of the section as lines. Double clicking on these lines loads the relevant page with the parts diagram in the middle of the screen and the parts listed on the right. Unlike any of the other basic customer online systems, the AGCO parts book provides the facility to click on a number on the part's picture to bring up the relevant information on the item.

Double clicking on the number adds the item to a pick list.

Other systems just tend to give the items as a list and you physically search the list for the relevant number. It is only a little thing, but it does speed up the process of part selection, particularly if there are lots of little parts to select.

Once you have selected the desired items and added them to the pick list, this can then be saved if you want to add more items, printed out or exported to a spread sheet.

Submitting the shopping basket of parts will give you the option to email the list directly to your dealer for ordering or pricing. It is all very slick and simple to use.

I only tried the Massey Ferguson system, but online parts catalogues are available for Fendt, Valtra and Challenger as well.

Interestingly, Valtra also makes parts books available for downloading in sections from their website.

This facility is available for selected models. For more, visit www.valtra.co.uk.

The login for the AGCO parts books facility is on www.agcopartsbooks.com, but your local dealer will have to set you up with the username and password. But it's well worth it.

Indo Farming



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