Navistar points to role of custom engineering

During these tough economic times, fleets need to know their unique requests can be accommodated in a timely manner by manufacturers

During these tough economic times, fleets need to know their unique requests can be accommodated in a timely manner by manufacturers. That’s where Navistar’s Custom Engineering group comes in, according to the OEM.

The cross-functional team analyzes customer requests, providing a thorough analysis before developing a business case that examines the costs and resources required to meet the challenges, Navistar said.

“Every change to our trucks comes at a cost,” explained Tom Smith, Navistar’s director of Custom Engineering. “However, by taking a strategic approach to meeting unique requests, closely analyzing potential modifications and providing the appropriate engineering assistance, we can deliver a higher level of support for our customers.”

The group makes modifications and adds unique features to Navistar heavy- and severe-service trucks, including military vehicles. Navistar design engineers conduct interviews and focus groups with drivers, service technicians and fleet managers to gather feedback on the products the company offers.

The OEM has used its military operations, which has required it to be responsive to the challenges of changing conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan, to help it develop the Custom Engineering group.

“Our quick and nimble approach to our military business has served as a great model to apply to other areas of our company,” said Jim Hebe, Navistar senior vp, North American sales operations. “Another chapter in that story is our Custom Engineering Group. We have a highly motivated organization made up of manufacturing, purchasing, engineering, sales and others focused on customer requests that fall outside of our normal product development processes. We’re able to take on these projects quickly and effectively, making us responsive to our customers and easy to do business with.”

During the last several months, Navistar’s Custom Engineering Group has helped develop several truck options and enhancements, such as air disc brakes, adaptive cruise control systems, electronics, controls, and interior cabinetry, as well as other customer- and vocational-specific options, the company said. Modifications are made either online at an assembly plant or offline at one of the company’s truck specialty centers.

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