Supreme Corp. also shares its advice concerning how to buy the right truck body. Questions that the company advises asking include: What type of cargo you are hauling? How you load and unload the truck? How much interior cargo space you need? What options, from securing your cargo to special door and floor requirements to interior lighting, will make your job easier?
Hercules’ Caddick lists several items he says should be discussed during the truck body specification process. “A fleet desires to carry a certain amount of cargo so a body needs to maximize what they can carry up to the full GVWR of the chassis,” he points out, “so we talk about body length, width and height with an eye on weight and payload capacity. These days, we find that some fleets want to carry as much as possible in order to fully utilize the vehicle’s available payload capacity, while others try to minimize the impact of regulations by spec’ing delivery vehicles under 10,000 lbs. GVWR.”
For every application, Caddick notes, there are standard offerings and value-added offerings to consider. “On the dry freight side of the business, for example, we’re seeing more interest in composite flooring, where durability, longevity and minimizing weight are the key,” he says. “We’re also seeing a trend where customers are interested in load control systems typically seen in dry freight van trailers.”
“How products are going to get on and off the truck, whether the freight will be dock or hand loaded or both, palletized or in carts, determines which sub sill and crossmember combinations should be used,” Caddick says. “That brings different value-added options into play, such as extra crossmembers at the rear of the body for durability in heavy pallet jack or forklift loading and unloading scenarios.
“How the payload is taken off the truck, whether it’s a dock to dock transfer or delivery operation with the driver entering and exiting the body 15 to 20 times per day, is also important,” he continues. “The demands require different specifications and value-added features such as pallet deflectors and overhead door track protectors, side doors, steps or rear lift gates.”
When it comes to refrigerated or temperature control applications, Caddick advises, “Find out the temperature of the product when the truck is loaded, whether it is loaded in the morning or the prior evening and the product sits on the truck overnight, the route length and number of stops and door openings during the route. That information lets us work with customers to spec an insulation package and a refrigeration system that meets their requirements while also minimizing cost.”
“Interior lighting is very important for driver ease of use and safety,” Caddick says. “The advent of LED dome light options that pack a lot of lumens at a cost-effective price and have very robust life spans means the days of putting one dome light in a body because the bulb’s going to burn out in six months anyway are over. Especially in insulated bodies, we see customers moving toward motion sensor lights, which make it easier on the driver, minimize engine starting issues by not allowing interior lights to be inadvertently left on overnight, and help eliminate maintenance issues associated with switches and wiring.
“We also see customers focusing on making it safer to get in and out of the body based by specifying options that prevent slips and falls, such as a specialized bumpers, steps at rear and side doors, walk ramps and side or rear lift gates,” Caddick continues. “Some of our lift gate vendors have implemented systems that provide three points of contact when accessing the rear of the body with side steps, as well as platform railings to prevent a driver from falling off of a lift gate.”
One other body specification issue that suppliers raise is the use of graphics, particularly for fleets that provide delivery services. “The installation of standard or wrap graphics on bodies prior to delivery is becoming the norm,” he says. “Most customers realize that their truck bodies are mobile billboards and that they can market their brand through body graphics.”
Overall, truck body suppliers see it as their mission to understand each customer’s business and provide solutions to address the issues and challenges they face. Offering a range of standard and value added options, which minimize operating expenses and promote equipment longevity, is the approach they are taking to meeting fleet truck body needs.