Automation was a little-known word in the 1990s when it came to parts sourcing and ordering. After seeing shops struggle each day with such a time-consuming manual process, the entrepreneurial minds behind APU Solutions thought it was time for change.
Saying Goodbye to Phone Tag Parts Sourcing
When the company was first incorporated in December of 1999, it was named Planet Salvage. The focus at the time was to provide parts availability and procurement options for recycled and green parts. Only two years into its operation, many MSOs and banner groups began requesting information on reconditioned and aftermarket parts as well. This essentially made the company work with everything alternative, which demanded a name change; Alternative Parts Utilization (APU) Solutions was born.
Fast forward 15 years, APU is a Solera company that serves three main stakeholders: the insurance carrier, repair facilities, and auto parts suppliers. APU has created a platform with a database that maps the details of all part types, linked a network of different suppliers offering real time availability, and automated the ability for repair shops to quickly search and order parts–all while adhering to each individual insurance carrier’s DRP guidelines. The information is seamlessly bridged into the inventory management systems used by repair shops and parts suppliers, making it easy to source, procure, and include parts in an estimate.
The APU Advantage for Insurers
For the insurance carrier, APU increases alternative parts usage by their DRP partners and provides visibility into the repair process, so that they don’t end up trying to understand results only at the end of the claim. APU helps insurers to understand what happened in the workflow, whether the right part was chosen, or could there have been a better selection. As a result, APU enables real time compliance and provides insurers with coaching opportunities before an estimate is completed.
The APU Advantage for Repair Shops
Repair facilities that focus on their DRP partnership with insurers are especially thankful to have APU on their side. Not only does APU provide shops with the ability to include reason/decline notes when selecting parts,it also helps to automate the process of identifying the parts that conform to each insurance company’s policies. It all adds up to a streamlined process of communication that clearly documents the reason for selecting one part over another, decreasing the shop’s liability from accidental errors on claims and reducing their overall operating expenses.
The APU Advantage for Parts Suppliers
By being a part of the APU network, parts suppliers gain access to more repair shops and provides sales opportunities to all replacement parts on an estimate. For missed opportunities, demand data helps suppliers plan their inventory better for future fulfilment. Ultimately, APU provides parts suppliers with the opportunity to increase their share of the pie without having to increase employees or overhead.
From Alternative Parts to Mechanical: Completing the Supply Chain Puzzle
Since the introduction of APU, the ability to automatically source and procure any alternative part has transformed the insurance, collision repair, and parts supply industries. Yet one major piece of the automotive supply chain connectivity puzzle has always been missing: the mechanical aftermarket parts supply.
This is why in 2013, Solera acquired Distribution Services Technologies Inc. (DST), a leading provider of cloud-based procurement solutions that connect mechanical aftermarket, heavy duty, and OEM parts suppliers with repair shops, dealerships, and fleet consumers.The acquisition was Solera’s strategy to connect body shops with mechanical parts, and finally providing an end-to-end solution to sourcing all the parts required for a repair.
We eagerly anticipate the launch of the next generation of APU (or InPart in the USA) that will be the complete parts procurement platform that connects insurers, repairers, and suppliers with all parts needed for a repair—OEM, mechanical, recycled, aftermarket, and green parts—the game-changing solution that will further reduce cycle time by expanding a repair shop’s access to all parts available in the market.
In the meantime, we’re getting ready to launch APU for Shops, a version of APU that any repair shop can use to provide competitive estimates in customer pay situations and help create consistency in their workflow. Stay tuned for Part Two: Parts Availability and Procurement Options in Seconds: Pioneering a New Frontier.