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Friday, July 16, 2010

Interchange: The Recycler Language We're Speaking

Like a lot of columns, this one started with a question: is there a better way for auto recyclers to inventory parts? Can we tie our system more closely to OEM numbers? And like the best questions, the answer surprised me. I’m sure there is room for improvement, but, especially compared to some international markets, we have it pretty good.

The numbering system for the auto recycling industry is derived from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) number. It’s the basis for what is universally known as “Interchange.” While we do not speak the same numerical language as collision repairers, all stake holders in our collective industry are fortunate to have a common platform by which we can all operate.

This common platform is written and owned by Hollander, a Solera company out of Plymouth, Minnesota. The Hollander Interchange allows all auto recyclers to inventory and categorize assemblies rather than all of the components that make up an assembly. For example, auto recyclers inventory and stock a vehicle’s door as an “assembly” in that the door’s internal hardware, moulding, handle and window are part in parcel of what the customer can expect to receive. In the manufacturer’s concept, there is no OEM number for a door; there’s one for a door shell.

Part of the value in recycled parts for the collision repair industry is the opportunity to receive an original manufacture’s part like a door fully intact, thereby reducing the labour they’d expend if the door had been a bare shell. Ultimately, it reduces the cycle time of the vehicle being repaired.

As Hollander senior product manager Avi Pelc put it, the real question is “how do we give the collision repairer confidence that the part is accurate and that it is the correct used part for their vehicle?” This is the very nature of what Hollander does and they have teams of representatives who are trained to use various systems to outline this for all stake holders in our industry. As Avi explained to me, it all boils down to the premise of the Interchange itself: “fit and function.” Hollander is the creator and makes the decisions using that credo. When there are slight variations to the interchangeability of parts, Hollander provides the options for its users.

In simple terms, the benefits of Interchange are that it allows auto recyclers to search for and find parts from manufacturers that share parts components, such as Chrysler and Mitsubishi etc. When part requests are logged into various inventory management systems available to auto recyclers the Hollander Interchange is the foundation for each and every part look up. Essentially, it increases the likelihood of finding that part in the recyclers database.

Without this common platform available to recyclers the net result would be very chaotic and confusing due to the varying natures in which we operate. Recyclers have to find a middle point and not limit ourselves to the opportunities to provide collision repair centres with the parts they want and need. We may not have the part from the exact model, and the appropriate part we have available may not even come from the same type of vehicle, but that doesn’t mean the part we have isn’t applicable to the repair.

The Hollander Interchange, also known as the “Bible” for the auto recycling industry, is the reason that we are able to effectively cross reference these parts and provide them as an option in the repair process. Not long ago, auto recyclers had two forms of interchange for our industry, and this only fractured and shrunk the marketplace for parts; there were too many barriers and obstacles for us to trade parts among ourselves.

I think it is fair to say that there still needs to be improvements to the existing situation. A better exchange of information is attainable, which will aids in strengthening all stake holders in our industry.

Having said that, the common platform by which we operate today allows us to trade many tens of thousands of parts daily in an almost seamless fashion. This in itself would otherwise not be possible without Interchange. This is all because of the great work that is done behind the scenes at Hollander and a big thank you is deserved for their efforts and positive contribution to our industry. 

by David Gold, Standard Auto Wreckers, Scarborough Ontario
This story originally ran in Collision Repair magazine issue 9#3.

Save some money and help the planet by buying recycled auto parts

You see a car being towed from an accident and think it’s destined to become an environmentally unfriendly pile of rusting junk? Think again. It’s actually a source of reusable parts that can easily offer years of service to another motorist.

In fact, auto recycling is the ultimate environmental choice. No other product on earth is recycled to a greater degree than the automobile. Not only does it keep a flood of dangerous toxins from being released into our ground and water, it prevents unnecessary use of valuable landfill space. And by reducing the need for new parts to be manufactured, you’ll be preserving scarce natural resources and cutting down on pollution.

As an example, take a look at the top 15 automotive parts searched for via, the search engine that powers the Ontario Auto Recyclers’ Association web site (found by clicking on “Find Green Parts Now” at

1. Engine assemblies
2. Transmission/transaxle assemblies
3. Wheels
4. Headlamp assemblies
5. Front Bumper assemblies
6. Front Door assemblies
7. Fenders
8. Hoods
9. Side view Mirrors
10. Tail lamps
11. Rear Bumper assemblies
12. Decklids/Tailgates
13. Air Bags
14. Electronic Engine Control Modules
15. Rear Door assemblies

Also, the average price for a used part in good working order is about half the cost of a new one. When it comes to an engine assembly or transmission assembly worth more than $1,000, the savings can truly add up.

And, you can rest assured that the part you’re looking for is top standard. OARA auto recyclers ensure the quality and reliability of the parts they sell. During the dismantling process, every part is inspected and tested so only those that meet strict guidelines and tolerances are offered for resale. Some parts, such as engines and transmissions, may be remanufactured while other parts, such as lights and wheels, may be reconditioned.

As parts are inventoried, the model year and mileage of the vehicle they came from are recorded to provide information about the condition of the part you're purchasing.

One thing to keep in mind – many recycled parts remain attached to their vehicle until the part is sold, so you may have to wait—typically just a day or two—before you actually get your part.

To find a recycling centre near you visit

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Auto Recycling - The last road trip

The largest piece of refuse you will probably ever throw away is your car. Every year, half a million vehicles are taken off Ontario roads as a result of age or collision damage and sent to auto dismantlers. In most cases, 75 percent of a car’s parts can be recycled; the remainder (mostly plastics, but can also contain mercury and liquid freon from air conditioners) ends up in a landfill. Because no single agency is responsible for monitoring end-of-life vehicle (ELV) dismantling practices in Ontario, it is impossible to determine how much hazardous material from rusting auto parts is released into the air or seeps into the ground and waterways.

Says Steve Fletcher, executive director of the Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association (OARA), “When you consider the numbers – 500,000 cars times five tires, one battery, two or three mercury switches, litres of various toxic fluids – it’s overwhelming to think of the potential environmental impact of handing over cars to auto dismantlers that simply strip what they want and throw the rest in a crusher.”

The OARA and its 135 member organizations, which make up only a fraction of the thousands of selfdescribed auto dismantlers in Ontario, adhere to a strict code of conduct regarding the treatment of ELVs and reuse or recycle every possible component of a vehicle. “By reusing salvageable parts,” says Fletcher, “you’re providing the customer with a good part for half the price and avoiding having to exploit resources to build the part again from scratch.”

OARA members are attempting to give an industry associated with junkyard landscapes, guard dogs and cigar-smoking toughs a green makeover. David Gold owns and operates Standard Auto Wreckers with his father, Ken. Gold thinks that the environmental impact of ELVs could be lessened considerably by creating an industry standard that all auto dismantlers would have to follow. “The treatment of hazardous fluids throughout much of the industry is an abomination. We use a state-of-theart fluid separation device that drains all fluids from the car so that they can be reused.” Gold, whose company provides customers with a certificate to show that their car has been recycled in full, knows that until legislation is passed regarding the treatment of ELVs, responsibility falls on the public to take a cradle-to-the-grave approach to owning a car. “We’re around, but because our overhead is higher [due to the fluid separation equipment and processes] we can’t always pay what junkyards can for ELVs. We need people to think with their heads instead of their wallets.”

by Jim MacInnis