June 27, 2006

Getting Your Cores Back

Ed Lee

When torque converters first transitioned from the early bolt-together units to the welded/sealed units of the present day, transmission shops were faced with a new challenge. Most customers weren’t willing to pay for a new OEM converter on top of the cost of a transmission overhaul. The only alternative available at that time – reusing the customer’s original converter – seldom saved the customer or the transmission shop any money. More often than not, reusing the original converter created new problems when contamination from the original failure entered the newly overhauled transmission.

The need for a lower cost replacement led to the birth of the torque converter rebuilding industry. This new industry relied on a good supply of rebuildable cores to meet the needs of its customers. In the early days of the rebuilding industry, cores were plentiful. Over time, the demand for rebuildable cores grew faster than the supply and prices increased as availability decreased. Torque converter rebuilders understood the value of tracking and retrieving their customers’ original cores, but few shops had an efficient way to do this.

Dick Lewis from Midwest Converter in Minneapolis, Minn., has been in the business since 1985 and knows all too well how important it is to get your cores back. In the early days of the E4OD converters, Dick was fortunate enough to purchase 100 good cores for $60 each. Five months later Dick could account for only 20 of the original 100 cores. He realized he couldn’t continue to replace valuable cores at that rate and decided to do something about it. Dick created a very efficient program for tracking both the converter and the core that was created by the sale of the converter.

When a customer calls, an order log is created. The sample order log in Figure 1 shows the shipping method, customer name, converter part number and quantity ordered. It also shows the invoice I.D. and the dates and times the orders were taken and printed. Next, the invoice and the bar code are created. The bar code appears in the upper right corner of the invoice (see Figure 2). The line items for that bar code are automatically placed on the invoice and the serial numbers for each converter that is being delivered are entered on the lower left of the invoice. You may select a line item or a ship method with all invoices created for the same shipping method at one time.

If there are core charges on the invoice, the system will create an orange core charge label for each box (see Figure 3) and a credit memo for each converter that will be returned for a credit (see Figure 4). That same bar code information also appears on the core charge label and the credit memo.

Simply scanning the bar code when the converter is returned starts the return process and the proper method of refund. The serial numbers that are on the lower left of the invoice originate on the converters. They are computer-generated and put on the converter by a dot-peen gun. The printed label on the converter during the marking process guarantees accuracy. Those serial numbers may be used to find the production date, the part number, the date the converter was sold, the customer’s name, the invoice number and the shipping method. The system will also track any future transactions that occur with the same serial number. For instance, if the converter is returned unused and later sold to another customer, or if the converter is returned for any warranty issue, Dick’s system will pick up this information.

Most customers have come to realize that the core charges they are asked to pay help to guarantee a good stock of rebuilt converters when they are needed.

Dick Lewis has created a great core return system and we thank him for telling the industry about it.

Ed Lee is a Sonnax Technical Specialist who writes on issues of interest to torque converter rebuilders. Sonnax supports the Torque Converter Rebuilders Association.

While Sonnax makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of technical articles at time of publication, we assume no liability for inaccuracies or for information which may become outdated or obsolete over time.