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Focusing on the critical role of spare parts

Liebherr recognises the important role spare parts play in supporting customers as well as reinforcing the strength of the Liebherr brand.

Manson Tong is the national spare parts manager for Liebherr Mobile Cranes. He understands the critical role spare parts has within the organisation and the emphasis Liebherr places on product support and customer satisfaction.

“From my perspective, Polymer is more about material engineering and my background is mechatronics and I was looking to work in an area which was more related to my area of expertise. Coincidentally, an opportunity became available at Liebherr, as a support engineer with Liebherr Mobile Cranes,” said Tong.

When he joined Liebherr, Tong started work on roadability studies, helping customers on how best Liebherr could equip the machines for them and still remain within the road axles limits to comply with the road regulations and also to support the sales managers.

“As a support engineer, you are the ‘hub’ between the sales team and the factory. We collect information from the sales team, pass it onto the factory, they answer the questions or solve the problems and we then go back to the sales team and implement the solutions for them,” he said.

Tong goes on to discuss the transition from support engineer to spare parts and the parts distribution side of the business.

“Both personally and professionally, I am ambitious and I was looking for a more senior role within the organisation and at this time the spare parts manager took a more senior role back at the factory. The opportunity presented, I put in my resume and with my experience in sales, a good understanding of how the machines work and how they are to be equipped, I was successful with my application,” said Tong.

Tong goes on to explain Liebherr’s approach to spare parts and his teams’ ability to supply parts quickly throughout Australia and New Zealand.

“Liebherr has a very strong focus on customer support and of course spare parts is a major focus. For the Australian and New Zealand markets we hold a substantial amount of spare parts with permanent Liebherr parts interpreters and warehouse personnel within five distributions centres (DCs) across Australia and New Zealand.

“In terms of the amount of stock we hold, Sydney manages 7,000 line items, Rockingham 3,500, Queensland and Victoria 1000 each and we have 1,200 line items in New Zealand. We try to hold as much stock as possible including critical spares as well. Stock holding is interesting at the moment. We currently have 42 models in Liebherr’s program and 35 of these models are currently available in Australia and New Zealand. If you add the obsolete models, we are talking about 48 models and the population would be close to 1000 machines.

“For Liebherr, the role of customer support continues to be a major focus and with it, the significance of spare parts increases also. Our team is constantly growing, and we recently put on two extra team members one in Melbourne and Auckland to support our customers in these markets. In the past we have been supporting New Zealand from Sydney, but with the number of customers growing and with this, the population of cranes has grown, and with more potential, we addressed the need to have more support available in New Zealand. Spare parts is recognised as a critical part of the business and there are plans to grow the team further in 2021,” said Tong.

The art of spare parts management is having the right parts available, for the right crane in the right location explains Tong.

“Managing parts availability is a constant challenge. Customers are moving their cranes around the country following the work and we have to be as quick as possible to follow this as well. Each of the smaller DCs stock critical spares which include sensors, hoist ropes for popular models, ECUs, windscreens, filters, oils and other products required for maintenance programs,” he said.

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