On HGTV’s “Flea Market Flip,” contestants get a chance to purchase items at suburban or rural flea markets for the chance to revitalize and reimage them in order to resell them. Some contestants might get very artistic in their transformations, while others are just looking to restore a classic piece. Although more functional than creative, the aftermarket parts industry is allowing beverage-makers to find their own discount treasures.

“They can revitalize otherwise antiquated machines, provide parts that can no longer be found, and they have the ability to save bottling plants a lot of money,” says Chris Smith, marketing manager for Universal Packaging (UP), Orange City, Fla.

Smith notes that aftermarket parts can offer beverage-makers many benefits including prolonging the life of older machinery when purchasing new equipment is not an option and improving old machines to be more efficient, sometimes surpassing their original capabilities.

John Beeze, director of FCI container handling for Bevcorp LLC, Willoughby, Ohio, also notes that aftermarket parts companies have the ability to support operations on a machine that an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) might not supply anymore. “Aftermarket parts are essential for many of the older packaging machines that may not be adequately supported by the OEM as well as situations where delivery is a concern,” he says.

Beeze adds that advancements in technology and materials have helped the aftermarket parts industry improve the fit, form, function, durability and lifespan of many parts.

Jim O’Keeffe, marketing manager for Bevcorp, adds that the company will take into account changeover time and productivity when developing its aftermarket parts.

Crafting a niche

Within the aftermarket parts industry, companies have found ways to meet beverage manufacturers’ needs from both a cost and quality stand point.

At Norwood, Mass.-based American Holt Corp., the company will reverse-engineer each part to ensure its replication to the OEM part. “We have testing equipment, so we produce the product with exactly the same material surface, hardness [and] things of that nature to completely replicate what the original part was made from, which is one of the things that differentiates us from just the standard machine shop,” says Tom St. Lawrence, national sales manager for American Holt.

However, St. Lawrence notes that one challenge the company might encounter is obtaining a brand-new sample of the part in order to reverse-engineer it. Although this obstacle can occur from time to time, St. Lawrence explains that with the sample part on hand, the company can replicate the exact fit, form and function of a part, making it identical to the OEM part.

At Bevcorp, the company supplies handling parts for a wide variety of filling machines including European makes and models. Among the parts that it offers are rotary fillers, upgraded blenders such as grease-less parts, cams, high-flow valves, electronic floats and level controls, automatic lubrication packages, missing vent tube detectors, main bearing guarding shields, and state-of-the-art circular guarding packages that were not available on older machines, Beeze and O’Keeffe explain.

For its customers, UP’s Smith notes that the company offers its High-Speed valve package, which can offer an efficiency benefit, too. “We can install one of our complete High-Speed valve packages in a rotary filling machine that is on its last leg and make it run faster and more efficient while reducing the maintenance costs and need for new costly equipment,” he says.

Overcoming the myths

Despite all of the services and products that companies within the aftermarket parts industry can offer beverage-makers, the players in the industry still are tasked with dispelling the myths that aftermarket parts are inferior to OEM parts, experts note.

“With all of the new designs, processes and materials, we now have the ability to produce parts that are more efficient and longer lasting than many OEM parts,” Smith says.

 One of the ways that American Holt communicates the quality and benefits of aftermarket parts is through an information video on its website. “We have a five-minute video that we put together that runs through the process from start to finish of exactly how we go about doing what we do, the equipment that we have to do the analyzing, and the quality control measures that we have,” St. Lawrence says. “That’s probably our most significant display to put a customer at ease.