ZF Services, the international aftersales specialist of ZF Friedrichshafen AG, and ZF Lenksysteme GmbH – a 50/50 joint venture between ZF and Robert Bosch GmbH – are restructuring their collaborative efforts. As of 2014, ZF Services will assume the responsibility for the international IAM business for steering gears, steering pumps and steering columns. ZF Lenksysteme GmbH will focus on its core competencies of production and remanufacturing. Starting in 2014, the complete product portfolio will be sold by ZF Services under the new ZF Lenksysteme brand.
With the reorganization of the worldwide IAM activities, ZF Lenksysteme GmbH and ZF Services say they aim to achieve advantages for the customer in particular: "As of the beginning of 2014, customers can obtain the entire portfolio of high-quality complete units from one organization, at transparent terms and by using uniform logistics processes. At the same time, the new ZF Lenksysteme product brand opens up new sales opportunities – and this on a worldwide basis," said Dr. Ulrich Walz, member of the board of directors, ZF Services, responsible for marketing and market development.
As a first step, ZF Services says it plans, among other things, to optimize the availability of products and services as well as implement uniform measures to promote sales. As one of the leading OEM suppliers for steering systems, ZF Lenksysteme GmbH accompanies its customers – renowned worldwide vehicle manufacturers – from the initial development phases through to the start of production. The resulting know-how and the corresponding quality standards are also reflected unchanged in the IAM complete units, the company states.
"Higher expectations as well as increasing technical complexity of the units and their impact on diagnosis and technical information, but also changing markets, necessitate optimized preparation, in the interest of the customer. This is why we are focusing on our development, production and process competencies, which are manifested in all manufactured and remanufactured units," explained Stephan von Schuckmann, responsible for the global aftermarket product field at ZF Lenksysteme GmbH.
Making sufficient quantities of used steering systems available for remanufacturing requires a well-organized reconditioning of used parts, according to ZF. ZF Services and ZF Lenksysteme GmbH have already established a reconditioning system in many European countries by means of a deposit system via wholesale distributors. They plan to expand this system worldwide.
The IAM product portfolio from ZF Lenksysteme is continuously growing. In the first half of 2013, 139 components for passenger cars were added to the portfolio. Included were electric steering gears for the BMW 5 and 6 Series and the Opel Astra GT, the hydraulic steering gear for the Mercedes E-Class 4Matic, as well as the hydraulic steering pump for the Audi Q5.
The first catalog for the ZF Lenksysteme brand – "Steering Gears, Steering Pumps, and Steering Columns for Passenger Cars" – featuring this extended product range and new brand design is being distributed this week at the international aftermarket trade fair, Equip’ Auto, in Paris.
The new branding also will be incrementally transferred to packaging as well as information and promotional material. In 2014, ZF Services will expand the commercial vehicle product range to include steering gears and steering shafts for commercial vehicles and buses – one of the fastest-growing service areas for the company.
Workshop customers will receive the best possible support beyond the sphere of the components themselves, according to ZF: "Together with Bosch, we will make intensive use of Bosch Service workshop networks, and expand our joint training activities. We are, also in this way, strengthening the 'pull effect' for the new brand's products in the aftermarket," said Walz.
The ZF Parts product brand, also originally used in Europe to sell steering units until now, will continue to stand for transmission components, such as oil change kits for automatic passenger car transmissions that were introduced in the spring of 2013. In order for customers to experience a smooth conversion to the new product brand, there is a transitional period until the end of the first quarter of 2014.