The auto industry can learn from trucking

Dec. 12, 2016
I would like to turn the tables and talk about what we in the trucking industry can teach our compatriots on the auto side.

In a recent blog I talked about what the trucking industry can learn from the automotive industry. This time I would like to turn the tables and talk about what we in the trucking industry can teach our compatriots on the auto side.

  • Listen to the customer: I think truck makers and component suppliers do a pretty good job of listening to what their customers want. All you have to do is look at all the advancements in the areas of driver comfort, safety and fuel efficiency. Truck makers and component suppliers continue to make huge strides in these areas while focusing on reducing costs.  The entire supply chain actively spends time with the fleets and truck drivers and collaboratively bring excellent products the fleets need.
  • Manufacturing flexibility: Automakers offer packages for various model vehicles. They bundle certain options together in a take it or leave it choice. Truck makers, on the other hand, allow their customers great latitude when it comes to specifying the components for their trucks to meet individual needs. Sure in recent years they have made some limits on data book options — do there really need to be 400 different shades of white to choose from — but truck owners still have lots of choices when it comes to what’s on their trucks. They get a truck that meshes best with their needs.
  • Build what’s needed: Maybe it is the more custom nature of trucks but rarely do you see rows and rows and rows of new trucks sitting on dealers’ lot. Truck makers and truck dealers have gotten good at building and ordering only what’s needed. You rarely see fire sales on last year’s trucks when the new model year trucks are introduced.

I am sure there are other things we can teach the automotive industry just as there are things we can continue to learn from them. And I guess it wouldn’t hurt if instead of just learning from similar industries we looked at the best of the best regardless of industry and tried to learn some lesson from people who have already figured out a better way. What’s that they say about imitation?

About the Author

Michael Roeth | Executive Director

Michael Roeth has worked in the commercial vehicle industry for nearly 30 years, most recently as executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). He serves on the second National Academy of Sciences Committee on Technologies and Approaches for Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles and has held various positions in engineering, quality, sales, and plant management with Navistar and Behr/Cummins.

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