Fleets are faced with a myriad of options when it comes to spec’ing their new vehicles. In addition to products that are currently in use, products are updated and new ones come on the market all the time.
Conduct a thorough review of your existing equipment looking at the specifications in detail. Ask the shop manager to give you a detailed history of any problems with the unit and performance data on specific components. They can tell you which components have performed well for you and which have been less reliable. Ask them about which vehicles have routinely been in the shop between preventive maintenance (PM) services. This can tell you a great deal about problems with existing specs. Properly maintained trucks should not be in the shop between scheduled PMs.
Once you have the maintenance and service history of your exiting vehicles, start a paper pilot review of the new trucks that interest you. If possible, without sacrificing desired performance, try to specify like equipment to minimize inventory creep in the parts room. This may be easier with items like lights, harnesses and brake components. Consistent specs should streamline your maintenance efforts which can be a time and money saver.
Prior to ordering new vehicles have a conversation with your service manager to make sure you are prepared to support the equipment being spec’d. Do you have the proper tools to maintain and service any new components? Do your technicians have the necessary skills to work on the new components? If not, what is it going to cost to get them trained?
Once you have determined initial specs, perform a physical pilot review. Make sure you have assembled the right team of people to help you with this. Be sure the maintenance and service managers are part of the team. They will be able to tell you about how easy the vehicle will be to service. Something as simple as battery placement on a chassis can impact the way the unit has to be maintained.
Look the unit over closely. Remember that things as simple as air line and electrical routing can have a big impact on performance and costs down the road.
Verify that the unit meets your expectations before going into full production of your order. This is the time to make modifications before you take delivery of a large number of units.
Finally, once you take delivery of the new units and put them into service, make sure you monitor their performance. Gather feedback from drivers as well as technicians.
It’s important to loop back with your shop manager to get their feedback. What you learn from them should become part of the body of knowledge that informs your next spec’ing discussion.