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TBM Y-Parts sourcing: Should you buy your TBM Cutters from TBM Manufacturer or from Independent Manufacturers?

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Y-Parts, the commonly referred for the TBM cutters, collectors, support parts etc used on TBM cutter heads can be sourced either from the manufacturer of the TBM you are using or from independent manufacturers.

Do Y-Parts of TBM Manufacturers Perform Better than that of Independent Producers?

Not necessarily.

The so-called "original" Y-Parts supplied by TBM manufacturers will almost always cost you more and often will not perform as well as Y-Parts of the good independent manufacturers. In general, it is safe to say that they will often deliver and average-to-good level of performance. This means: they will almost never perform too lowly or highly. With TBM manufacturer Y-Parts, you will be buying an average-to-good performance guarantee. At a price!

In the past, this has helped the revenues of the TBM manufacturers a lot. A bit like Gilette model (selling the razor cheaply and then making money on repeat selling replacable blades). Except that the TBMs themselves were also very expensive as well as the expensive Y-Parts. A true win-win (both wins for the TBM manufacturers).  Basically it was not really in the interests of the TBM manufacturers to sell high-performance Y-parts. The system was based on selling the TBM and then selling as many spares (Y-Parts etc) as possible during the course of the project.

As a matter of fact, it is safe to assert that the quality of the Y-Parts supplied by TBM Manufacturers have gotten better over the years -strange enough- thanks to the competition from the independent Y-Parts producers.

When it comes to the Y-Parts of the independents -unlike the those of TBM manufacturers- they can be Y-Parts from a bad manufacturer performing very badly or Y-Parts from a good manufactuer performing over the top.

To compare both sources of TBM Y-Parts:

Y-Parts from TBM Manufacturers

+ Lazy sourcing. Just use the same manufacturer.

+ Performance is average-to-good - Almost never bad. A guarantee of at least a certain level (average) of quality.

- Often bad price/performance level.  Expensive...

Y-Parts from Independent Producers

+ Better price/performance ratio from good manufacturers.

- Requires work for finding a good manufacturer.


You need to weigh in these factors when choosing a supplier. 

Purchasing Department factor: If your Purchasing Department is not so good, definitely go for the Y-parts of the TBM manufacurers. On the other hand, if your Purchasing Department is staffed with able people, then assign them the task of finding a good independent Y-parts manufacturer in cooperation with your technical department.

And for the process of choosing a producer of the Y-Parts? Please read it on this page:

Choosing a TBM Y-Parts supplier.