Smart consolidation with DENSO lambda sensors
The aftermarket has always been tremendously adept at evolving to remain competitive in a business landscape driven by fast-changing technology. Workshops demonstrate this daily, with an ever-growing diagnostic knowledge and ability to carry out repairs using the right tools and methods. To offer this full-service package to their customers, they rely on wholesalers to supply them with the correct parts.
Thanks to continual advancements by parts manufacturers, there is a trend for wholesalers to stock a smaller, but just as widely applicable, range of parts, enabling them to meet their customers’ needs while reducing their overheads.
However, the challenge for wholesaler comes in working out how far they can reduce their stock without compromising their offering to workshops, or inadvertently introducing issues with fitting or efficacy.
That’s where the DENSO concept of “smart consolidation” comes in: merging products in a range to just enough for wholesalers and workshops to benefit, but not too much that they experience problems.
Lambda sensors: An optimised offering
One group of components where smart consolidation is already at work is lambda sensors, as some manufacturers have identified these parts as a target for range consolidation – and with their variety of wire lengths and fit types, it is easy to see why.
Lambda sensors are a crucial component not only for optimising engine performance, but also for reducing emissions – something the entire industry knows to be important in the context of global governments’ climate goals. Therefore, their performance cannot be compromised.
However, by taking a group of 10 different original equipment sensors, which all share an identical sensor core, connector type and pinout, with the only difference being the length of their wires, DENSO has put smart consolidation into practice by selecting only three optimised wire lengths, thereby greatly improving the stock efficiency of servicing all the related vehicles.
As a result, wholesalers can provide workshops with maximum vehicle coverage without having to buy a prohibitive amount of stock. Having fewer parts therefore, makes the lives of wholesalers easier and supplying the right parts that result in efficient and error-free fitting, will reflect well on them from their customer’s perspective.
When is a saving not a saving?
The question that then could be asked is whether it’s possible to take the concept further and reduce the range all the way down to one cable? In theory, yes – and other manufacturers have indeed done this. However, reduce the range too much, and the constraints start to outweigh the benefits.
In the case of the example in the diagram, the longest possible length would mean an excessive wire length that needs to be secured with cable ties, for example. However, with high temperatures, fast rotating parts and heavy vibrations, wire harness fixation is a safety and reliability issue that DENSO is not prepared to compromise on. In general, depending on the actual wire length, DENSO does not allow the wire to be more than 35% over length. Others in the aftermarket do not apply such a limit and may even permit wire that is more than 100% over length.
The most extreme version of consolidation is universal fit sensors. Such sensors will always require additional preparation time by cutting the wires to length and splicing them onto the original wire and connector. Though when done correctly (with the right tools, materials and methods) this provides a perfectly reliable result, preparing the sensor will significantly extend the installation time. Additionally, there are many ways that a less experienced technician could make a mistake – such as confusing any of the four wire connections, or using a wrong method of connection (soldering instead of mechanical crimp), the wrong equipment or insufficient sealing.
If any of these occur, it goes without saying that the sensor will not work properly, which will be noticeable in the car’s driveability and fuel consumption. When making their buying decisions therefore, wholesalers should consider the costs of rectifying these situations, not just the initial costs of the parts.
Choose smart consolidation
The DENSO lambda sensor range is optimised for smart consolidation: maximising benefits without incurring negative impacts. Not only do the sensors themselves match strict quality standards, but the segmentation of the range also confers the maximum possible benefits to wholesalers, calculated across the entire life cycle of a product from purchase to installation to use, while maximising vehicle reliability.