LAS VEGAS, Nevada — Freightliner was showing off its 114SD, equipped with a 38-meter concrete Z-boom, at World of Concrete 2017 (WoC); a truck that highlights what the company can do to tailor its vehicles and make the upfit process hassle-free for its customers.
Truck West spoke with Phil McEwan, manager of vocational sales, Western Canada for Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA), who said the company’s main goal as a chassis manufacturer is to make the upfit – mounting the body, equipment and all the components – as easy as possible.
“We work closely with the truck equipment manufacturer (TEMs) or a body builder, as we commonly call them in Canada, to ensure all of the components are located in such a manner that they don’t have to move anything,” McEwan explained.
Powered by a Detroit diesel DD13 with an Allison transmission, McEwan underscored how the 114SD’s fuel tank was mounted in a specific location to ensure the outrigger did not interfere, much the same with the placement of the pusher, tag axle, and exhaust.
“If we just order a stock truck, it’s just going to come (with components) wherever the engineers feel it’s going to best suit the chassis,” McEwan said. “However, if you get a body builder that has a complicated machine such as this…if we have a component that is in the way, they can’t build on our truck.”
Freightliner’s dealer network works with McEwan’s group, as well as the engineers, to make sure the components on the truck are not encumbering in any way in an effort to lessen the time it takes to upfit.
“If we took a stock truck that was sitting in somebody’s yard, and we didn’t know that it was going to have a 38-meter pump on it, with these outriggers on these locations,” McEwan said, referring to the 114SD with 38-meter concrete Z-boom, “they would have to do hundreds of hours of rework on the chassis to put their body on it. So our goal, as that chassis is rolling through their production facility, is to reduce the throughput hours. That means no drilling of holes for them, no moving components and plug and play to the best of our ability to ensure that the time it takes for them to complete that package is more conducive.”
McEwan said they are able to push through two to three of these types of customization packages each week. They can also do specialized wiring and switch layouts depending on whether the truck is a mixer, concrete pump, garbage, or dump truck.
“It’s all driven to make our product easier to upfit on and to throughput through their factory,” McEwan said. “It’s an evolution. People ask for things, we research, see if we can do it, we achieve it and it gets added to the data book and we just keep growing. We have a lot of our body builders and TEMs come to us and ask, ‘We’d really like to have this.’ And we see what we can do.”
The process starts at the customer level, McEwan said, and depends greatly on the relationship Freightliner has with its dealers and its dealers have with the body builders to ensure the customer is provided with the easiest platform to build on.
The 114SD product is designed to be a “stouter, more rugged” option, according to McEwan, for vocational applications.
With the release of trucks like the 114SD in 2009, McEwan said Freightliner has managed to capture a leadership position in the six vocational truck sub-segments – specialized hauling, food and beverage, government, utility, construction and refuse – placing first in four and second in two.
“That flexibility,” McEwan said, “has given us the confidence in both our customers and the body builders of the world to take our chassis as their platform.”
Sonia Straface is the assistant editor of Truck News and Truck West magazines. She graduated from Ryerson University's journalism program in 2013 and enjoys writing about health and wellness and HR issues surrounding the transportation industry. Follow her on Twitter: @SoniaStraface. All posts by Sonia Straface