Freightliner Trucks on Wednesday introduced a “Frameworks” program for truck equipment manufacturers, with the aim of making upfitting easier and quicker.
Close co-ordination between Cargotec and Freightliner eased the installation of a complex materials handling body with crane, forklift and tag axle on a 104SD chassis.
“We’re working on options to fill niche spots in the overall market,” said Dave Hames, general manager of marketing and strategy. “We knew we had to work with truck equipment manufacturers to make Freightliner as strong in vocational markets as it has been in the on-highway market.”
The program officially kicked off at a press conference just before the opening of the National Truck Equipment Association’s Work Truck Show, which is largely attended by makers of bodies and equipment and the people who install them on truck chassis. The show runs through Friday at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis.
“Frameworks formalizes what we already do today,” Hames said. It should put Freightliner closer to upfitters in the process of designing, building and installing truck bodies and equipment, and reducing errors and delays in such projects.
“We want to get out of the traditional finger-pointing that sometimes happens between truck and body manufacturers and the customer” when things go wrong, he said.
Framework will include education to help upfitters understand Freightliner’s chassis, SmartPlex electrical system, and the many options for frame rails and crossmembers, power take-off devices, and exhaust-system configurations.
A “visibility” package will allow them to see where their truck is in the manufacturing and transporting process so they can plan their work and notify their customer when the truck will be delivered. The program should reduce buyers’ frustration with not knowing when they’ll take delivery of their trucks, and save them money due to increased efficiency, he said.
“If we know what the upfit is going to be,” Hames added, “we can set up the frame, electrical system and other details to eliminate problems down the line. Our goal is to look at this industry as an extension of our manufacturing process.”
Signing up gives upfitters dedicated access to the program and, if they qualify, access to financing. Beyond joining they have no obligation to participate, but Freightliner hopes they will when they see its benefits.
Frameworks has different levels of membership featuring various benefits, said Mary Aufdemberg, director of product marketing. Interested truck equipment manufacturers can inquire about membership through their Freightliner vocational sales manager or email [email protected].