Picking up replacement parts at a wholesaler or equipment distributor is a routine task for many service technicians. We do it a lot. Getting the right replacement part is a key component of a successful and efficient repair process. On the other side of the coin, arriving at the job with the wrong part is troublesome, at best, and sometimes it just kills the whole repair and the day.

Ultimately, it is the technician’s responsibility to make sure the proper part is obtained.

Recently, a long-time technician acquaintance of mine told me, when picking up parts, always trust, but verify. What he meant was: Trust that your parts supplier will give you the right part, but verify that it’s the part you need before you leave. Always check that the part you requested is the right one for the repair. Do not solely rely on the counterperson to make sure the part is the right match. The counterperson can be a great resource for assistance and recommendations, but he or she is not on the specific job making the repair.

There are many possible ways for the wrong part to be picked up. For example, you ask for a fan motor with a clockwise (CW) rotation and the counterperson gives you a fan motor with a clockwise rotation. But, when you arrive on the job and install the motor, it is operating with the wrong rotation. How is that possible? Well, the rotation that is stamped on the motor’s data plate is based on how the motor is viewed — either from the shaft end or lead end of the motor. So, a CW motor viewed from the shaft end is also a counter-clockwise motor when viewed from the lead end. Depending on how the motor manufacturer views their rotation, you could be getting the wrong rotation, even though it is stamped with what you asked for.

One time, I left a wholesaler with a compressor that had the wrong voltage. I needed a 110-V compressor but left with a 208/203-V compressor — an honest mistake. Luckily, I realized the mistake before I installed the compressor and was able to return it still in the box unused. If I had brazed it in and then found the mistake, it would have been much more difficult to exchange the compressor for the right one.

Be prepared and informed when you order a part. Knowing exactly what you need is essential, especially when the OEM part is not available and you need to cross it over to another manufacturer or a universal replacement. The counterperson can give great assistance in cross-referencing a suitable replacement, but it’s up to the technician to verify that it’ll work. When necessary and feasible, do your own research. With all of the resources available online, it should be easy for technicians to research exactly the part(s) they need.

So, the next time — and every time — you’re picking up a replacement part, make sure to take the time to verify that the part you need is the part you received. Always trust, but verify.

Publication date: 1/11/2016

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