Managing the supply chain and ensuring prompt delivery of quality components is one of the biggest challenges any original equipment manufacturer (OEM) must overcome. Here, Nick Jordan, Technical Engineering Manager at steering system manufacturer, Pailton Engineering answers the most frequently asked questions to make life easier for OEMs.

At Pailton Engineering, we specialise in developing bespoke steering systems for a range of specialised vehicles. Supplying the military, bus and coach and commercial vehicle markets means meeting very strict requirements. We therefore work closely with our clients to answer a range of questions. However, there are some common threads across these sectors:

Can we order small volumes?
Most steering systems on the market are off-the-shelf products that are mass produced, so finding a supplier that can cater for small orders of non-standard systems or components is tricky. This is because the manufacturing processes for these businesses are structured to support the production of standard parts and changing that for a short run is challenging and costly.

However, as Pailton supplies bespoke systems, our manufacturing processes have been designed to adapt. This enables us to provide our customers with highly specialised components in whatever volume they require.

Can you prove value for money?
Manufacturers of vehicles for use in high pressure environments need to be reliable and perform in extreme conditions. This means selecting parts that can demonstrably keep up with environmental demands, so vehicle OEMs cannot afford to simply choose the cheapest product on the market. However, they must be assured that the components they select offer value.

My advice to OEMs is not to look solely at the value for money of the part they are sourcing, but to look at the wider cost of ownership. For example, can your supplier provide results of extensive testing reflective of real world situations? At Pailton we have several testing rigs that simulate hundreds of thousands of miles of driving in just a few days, replicating the environment the steering system will encounter when deployed.

This not only demonstrates effectiveness, it proves that our maintenance free, enclosed components will last for the expected lifespan of the vehicle with lower operating costs compared with off the shelf alternatives.

Doesn’t bespoke mean long lead times?
One of the most common issues we often come up against is the fact that the steering system is a component that is often taken for granted as something easy to source, so it is left to the last minute.

It’s easy to assume that it will be easy to select an off-the-shelf system that will fit a vehicle. However, this not only results in selecting a product that is not designed with strenuous use in mind. It is often the case that in the process of creating an innovative vehicle design, the space necessary to fit a standard system is lost.

This is where design teams like the one at Pailton need to step in to create a system that can accommodate the customers’ requirements and vehicle layout. As we’re creating a part for an already complete vehicle, clients need parts on a short deadline. Our designers work closely with customer’s own design teams, and our facility in Coventry is continuously being improved with the latest automation machines and software so that we can accommodate this easily.

Whatever supplier you select to provide components for your latest vehicle, the most important question you have to ask is how closely they can work with your design team to provide the best possible systems for your needs. If you can develop a relationship with knowledgeable engineers, you will get both quality products and peace of mind. For any other questions, call Pailton Engineering on +44 (0)2476 680445 or email

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