'Name game' doesn't help when ordering parts

Jan. 1, 2020
Searching for a part that is listed by four different names can be impossible.

Would a rose by any other name be hard to identify? Probably, if you had to find it online or in a parts catalog!    

What if that rose had four names and not just one? How difficult would it be then? And, what if the names were dependent solely upon the publication that identified that rose or described it? How impossible would it be if we were talking about the same rose, but the descriptions and identification varied from publication to publication? How hard do you think it would be to distinguish the one variety of rose you are looking for from all the hundreds of other varieties that are out there?

It can be almost impossible and no one should know that better than you. After all, you’re asked to do similar searches every day.

Let me give you an example, or more accurately, four examples. If a 1998 Ford Windstar appeared at my door with a diagnostic trouble code for a problem with one of the two small vacuum motors at either end of the intake manifold, which controls how much the intake runners open or close, and you worked at my shop, you would probably start your search by asking someone at a jobber store or a warehouse for the price and availability of the IMRC valve: the intake manifold runner control valve.

That’s how it is identified in the electronic technical data resource we use. But, that isn’t what Motorcraft calls it. They call it an “engine breaker control & bracket assembly” in their paper catalog. Of course, it isn’t described as an “engine breaker control & bracket assembly” or an “IMRC valve” in the electronic parts catalog. In the electronic catalog, it’s either a “vacuum limiter” or a “choke pull-off,” depending on what the vendor wants to call it or how they want to describe it. And, the problem is not limited to just one manufacturer… I’m told it is endemic throughout the industry.

One part, four names: that would make look-up difficult for an experienced counter professional and just about impossible for a rookie.

Why does it have to be that way? And, more to the point: Why do you guys allow it? It isn’t as if the incentive for that kind of change doesn’t exist. All you have to do is look at the high levels of returns you are always screaming about and ask yourself how much money could be saved if returns could be reduced by just 1 percent.

And, even if that 1 percent isn’t enough, I’ll bet the man-hours saved by not having to guess at what a part was before attempting to look it up would.

It’s bad enough when this kind of idiocy pervades my world in the search for technical information; it is inexcusable when these same inconsistencies slip across the parts counter because no one refers to the same part by the same name.

Four hundred and ten years ago, William Shakespeare asked: “What’s in a name?” then suggested “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet...” It probably would, but I’ll bet it would be a lot harder to find that rose if you didn’t know what to call it.