Upfitting efficiency: Vocational resources
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Upfitting efficiency: Vocational resources

Along with common specification questions surrounding load carrying capacity and powertrain needs, operators of light- and medium-duty vocational trucks have specific and unique requirements for their equipment. For those fleets, truck manufacturers have made it a priority to develop tools and other resources that help businesses and their body and equipment upfitters.

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Recently, Daimler Trucks North America LLC (DTNA) developed and introduced its Custom Hardware and Electronics Configurator (CHEC) tool to streamline the vocational truck customization process. The CHEC tool, according to DTNA, reduces upfit time and makes the vehicle customization process user-friendly.

With the CHEC tool, DTNA explained further, Truck Equipment Manufacturers (TEM) and dealers are able to view, edit, compare and update electrical configurations in Freightliner vocational trucks. The software can also be used to customize inputs and outputs, and change parameters within minutes. Users can create standard templates for their fleets and equipment types so they can select a pre-existing configuration based on different applications or operating needs when specifying new units.


The CHEC tool also increases customization possibilities, the manufacturer noted, such as creating custom dash layouts in vehicles. Additional CHEC tool features include the ability to make changes to entire fleets, search for any vehicle in the system, or compare the configurations of different vehicles against each other or the fleet. It also enables vehicle-based views to see details on terminal availability and load capacity, circuit location, vehicle specific switch and gauge information, and a history of updates to a vehicle.

DTNA has also introduced a new online configurator tool for Freightliner M2 106 medium-duty trucks. The program presents choices for a wide range of bodies and chassis-mounted equipment, powertrain options such as Detroit DD5 and DD8 engines, and interior seating, upholstery, grille styles and mirrors. Fleets can also use the tool to review safety solutions, such as WABCO OnGuardActive collision mitigation or Bendix AutoVue lane departure warning systems.


The Kenworth Medium Duty Body Builder’s Manual for K270 and K370 models and the Peterbilt Medium Duty Body Builder Manual provide information and guidelines for body planning and equipment installation processes. The manuals contain dimensional information, and guidelines for mounting bodies, modifying frames and electrical wiring configuration.

With the medium-duty body builder manuals from Peterbilt and Kenworth, fleets and body manufacturers are offered helpful details for specifying vehicles during the definition and ordering process. The information in the manuals, the manufacturers note, will help reduce overall costs by optimizing integration of the body and its installation with vehicle selection. Vocational truck body integration support is also available to fleets, body builders and upfitters through online access to the latest technical information, video tutorials and assistance.


For fleets operating Mack trucks, a Body Builder Portal offers specification and upfit tools and resources. Included is an mDrive PTO Pump Speed Calculator for PTO or hydraulic pump selection. Additionally, there are body builder manuals for information on electrical, PTO, hydraulic pump, parameter logic, programming, and wiring diagrams to assist with electrical interface specifications and upfitting.

The Navistar Body Builder Resource Center assists truck equipment manufacturers and body builders with guidance and support for all International trucks and components. Included is direct access to technical service information and circuit diagrams for designing and building vocational truck solutions.


Technical assistance for upfitters is offered by the General Motors Upfitter Integration group in the form of electrical schematics, dimensional data, or guidelines for modifying frame rails. The group also maintains online body builder manuals, technical bulletins, and best practice manuals.

Another role for the Upfitter Integration group, according to the manufacturer, is to serve as a liaison between upfitters, customers and GM Engineering, Marketing and Service organizations. That interface, the group notes, is required when a technical solution is not obvious or a product feature that is required is not available and needs to be added.

The Ford Body Builder Advisory Service offers a range of resources, including Body Builder Layout Books and Application Guides that are designed to provide a quick and easy method for matching truck length and load carrying requirements with the appropriate vehicle. Also available are guides for interior systems on commercial vans.


The Ram Commercial Upfit Center, according to the manufacturer, provides on-site upfit capabilities to reduce order-to-delivery and upfit time. Offerings include factory completions, option installations, vocational packages, graphics and decals, electrical packages, dry freight and refrigerated bodies, lift gate and ramp installations and drivetrain solutions. 

Additionally, the Ram Commercial Upfit Center offers Body Builder Guides for pickup, chassis can and cargo van models covering dimensions, electrical systems and other technical information. The center also has direct links to a range of suppliers of upfit products and services.

All of these resources are in place to better serve vocational fleets’ unique needs. “Cutting edge tools,” says Richard Saward, general manager, vocational sales for DTNA, “combine extensive customization options with forward-thinking technology to deliver the right truck for the job, as quickly as possible.”

Fleet Equipment Magazine