If you have nothing to do with the automotive aftermarket industry, then ACES and PIES mean nothing to you. However, if you are in the business of manufacturing, supplying, distributing, or selling automotive parts, then these two terms are incredibly important. In general, both ACES and PIES are standard aftermarket data formats. But while the ACES standard is about managing and exchanging automotive application data, the PIES standard is used to manage and exchange product data. Both of them, however, differentiate the aftermarket automotive industry and the data it uses from all other industries.
People and businesses operating in the auto aftermarket industry will have to manage the year, make, and model fitment data for all of their products. This presents several challenges in terms of how companies use and exchange this information, create their websites, warehouse, and sell their products online or in a retail store.
It’s also important to know that both standards were created by the Auto Care Association (ACA), which was formerly known as the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA). As such, it’s not uncommon to see ACES and PIES written as “AAIA ACES” or “AAIA PIES.” However, both of these terminologies are outdated, ever since the Auto Care Association changed its name.
These two standards make it possible for businesses to sell their components through an online store. They do so by managing and exchanging part numbers and fitment data between subscribers and by giving the entire aftermarket industry a universal standard (common language) to work with. Today, there are well over 500,000 members that use these standards in their day-to-day activities.
Below, we will be taking a look at how these two industry standards differ, as well as how they are used together to increase sales.
What is ACES Product Data?
The Aftermarket Catalog Exchange Standard (ACES) is an automotive aftermarket industry standard used for managing and exchanging automotive catalog applications data. Manufacturers will be able to send and receive product data by using industry-standard vehicle applications. These include elements such as make, year, model, part types, and other such qualifiers. In more broad terms, the ACES product data standard includes part data in the form of brand, part number, and part type, alongside other fitment information that defines which vehicles, which vehicle attributes, and which exact position on those vehicles these parts fit in. As such, this fitment data will cover elements such as vehicle make, model, year, submodel, transmission, engine, and more.
ACES data is divided into two databases as follows:
- The Vehicle Configuration Database (VCdb) – This database contains roughly 60,000 combinations of year/make/model vehicles from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. When it comes to US cars and trucks, these can be traced back to as far as 1896. For Canada and Mexico, the information goes back to 1942 and 1961, respectively. In terms of Powersports vehicles, the earliest models in the VCdb are from 1920. The Auto Care Association updates and maintains this database roughly once per month. However, it’s important to mention that any parts that are universal and do not have a specific fitment will not have any ACES data.
You can look at ACES as the connecting link between a part number and a specific vehicle that’s found in the vehicle configuration database. Accessing this database will require a subscription for those interested in using it. Luckily, however, there are two subscription levels available. The first level covers all automobiles, light-duty trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating between 1 and 3, and Powersports, including personal watercraft, motorcycles, and ATVs. The second subscription level covers all medium and heavy-duty trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating between 4 and 8.
- The Parts Configuration Database (PCdb) – Also part of the ACES standard, the PCdb contains a list of all part types and categories. This includes replacement parts, service items, and other similar supplies usually sold in the aftermarket industry. Using this database will make it easier for manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to put together their automotive catalog. Car owners, on the other hand, can use this database to more easily compare the parts they need for their vehicles. When the products listed in an electronic catalog are classified properly, there will be far fewer mistakes and interpretation gaps in terms of how each individual product should be used. As such, the customer experience will also improve.
All ACES files will come in an XML format and will be available by paying a subscription to the ACA. Each ACES XML file will contain information about one brand. Aftermarket suppliers are advised to validate all of their fitment data against the ACES industry standard to ensure that their information is correct. Whenever there is vehicle fitment data missing, it’s known in the industry as “application holes.”
What is PIES Product Data?
The Product Information Exchange Standard (PIES), on the other hand, is used to manage and exchange part number data. It’s used in the industry as a means of managing and exchanging product data on automotive parts and various accessories. PIES contains over 20,000 product types and over 180 different electronic data elements, all organized into 25 categories. Similar to ACES, PIES is also published and maintained by the ACA. However, PIES data standards do not require a paying subscription to use. Nevertheless, there are some additional databases that work alongside PIES data, which are only available by subscription.
All of the data points found in PIES are collected from the biggest retailers and warehouse distributors in North America, helping other warehouses, stores, management systems, and end-users alike. Among these PIES XML files, users can find a wide variety of product attributes and other such information in the form of product prices, sizes, weights, kits, brand ID, UPC codes, countries of origin, marketing content, and more.
What’s Not Included in ACES or PIES
Due to the usefulness of ACES and PIES data, there have been several misconceptions about what these information exchange standards can actually do. The Auto Care Association has made it clear that neither ACES nor PIES are industry-wide tools used to look up products or fitment data. They are not intended to be used as an industry-wide database, nor do they include any OEM replacement parts. The VCdb will provide a vehicle’s ID alongside its other valid attributes, but it will not be able to provide any OEM part numbers of fitment information regarding the vehicle’s components.
While both ACES and PIES can be used by suppliers and receivers to maintain their application and product data, this information doesn’t contain any actual fitment or product details. The ACES and PIES standards are nothing more than coded values used to transmit product and vehicle information between partners. This is made possible by using XML delivery files to share the information, while the ACES standards will translate the coded values into actual text that can be used in the electronic catalog. This also means that the two industry standards cannot be used as a tool to look up VIN numbers.
How Do ACES and PIES Work Together?
Since ACES and PIES tackle different aspects of the automotive aftermarket industry, it should come as no surprise that it’s by using them together effectively that things start moving along nicely. For example, when a shop owner or warehouse manager references the ACES data, they will determine whether a particular part will fit a specific vehicle. If it does, the customer can then reference the PIES data to determine if that specific part will satisfy all of their needs.
In other words, it’s by using both ACES and PIES that you will be able to remove most of the guesswork that goes into ordering parts. This only applies, however, if the technical specifications and data are properly managed and maintained. By using Evokat Premier, you will be able to keep all of this information up-to-date and error-free, helping you make sales and increase revenue, all the while reducing the incidence of automotive product returns or any other forms of ordering errors.