The search for parts in the aftermarket really is a big problem; in fact, there are companies specialised in implementing technology to help search for parts.
We have to remember that a vehicle is made up of between 70k and 90k parts, so the issue is hardly trivial.
Although the most precise mechanism for finding a vehicle part is the license plate or chassis n.º, this system presents multiple problems:
Not all vehicle segments are available in these databases (agricultural, marine, industrial, etc).
There are no databases or web services which offer data on all manufacturers.
These search engines locate OE parts (from the vehicle manufacturer), meaning the link with the aftermarket product is not direct.
The most logical alternative to searching for a part using the license plate or chassis n.º is to search using a make, model, type and year. There are databases which contain vehicle parks definitions (simplification of all existing vehicles) to enable parts manufacturers to associate their products with these vehicle definitions; the most well-known may be Tecdoc. But this mechanism also presents multiple problems:
There is no database which defines a universal vehicle park definition for all application segment types.
There are a number of separate vehicle park databases, which means it isn’t easy to compare their results or integrate them into a single search engine.
It is quite difficult to maintain the link between vehicles and products, meaning small manufacturers lack access to this information.
There are many types of parts where a search using a vehicle park definition fails to provide the necessary precision. For example in parts like the transmission or alternator, where for the same vehicle we can find more than five different part possibilities.
At this point, what search alternatives do we have left? One option is to search for the product using the reference number. This mechanism presents some advantages and disadvantages.
Most manufacturers provide cross reference numbers, which converts it into a universal search mechanism.
The search-by-reference-number is a mechanism which makes it possible to compare results from different manufactures directly and simply.
The precision of the search is maximum, as we can find results associated with the exact part we are seeking, for example for this type of products: Turbo chargers, AC compressors, starter motors, alternators, etc.
It is not always easy to obtain the reference number for the part we need.
Not all parts are searched by reference number, for example: batteries, tires, lubricants, etc.
As you can see, the search for spare parts is a very complex question. Any search technology we incorporate into our companies will deliver us a higher level of customer service and more sales.