What Is Upfitting?
Upfitting is taking an existing vehicle that technicians or people in the field are going to be using on a daily basis and customizing it in ways that will help them do their job better.
Upfitting may involve additions of extra storage space for special tools that are going to be used. Or lightening up the interior, so the payload can be higher for heavy equipment the vehicle is going to carry. Vehicles can be upfitted in a variety of ways to suit the purpose they’re going to be used for, to improve efficiencies and make the execution of jobs quicker, easier and more cost-effective.
It’s a powerful and practical solution for work trucks, but as any fleet manager will tell you, it is also a very complex process that involves careful analysis of needs versus costs and delivery timetables. To make the upfitting process easier, we’re compiling a list of 7 things you should remember when preparing to upfit your fleet vehicles.
# 1: Take Decisions Jointly
Fleet managers may be in charge of the fleet, but they’re not in the field, working with the trucks on a day-to-day basis. Therefore, any decisions they take vis-à-vis the upfitting may not have practical, real-world experiences to draw corroborative knowledge from. For this reason, it is prudent to call operators, drivers and technicians into the decision-making process and take their suggestions on board.
# 2: Standardize Wherever Possible
On occasion, field personnel may have different views on how a truck should be upfitted, but it is up to the fleet manager to cut through personal ideas and opinions and try to standardize a fleet based on commonalities. A careful analysis of the equipment that’s going to be used will usually produce a common set of specifications. The exceptions to this standardization will be easier to manage than a fleet with a variety of upfit specs.
# 3: Remember the 85% Rule
The widely accepted standard of 85% of Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) should not be forgotten when spec’ing for an upfit. Repair and maintenance costs both rise when vehicles are operated at or near its GVWR, so the payload needs to be balanced with the total vehicle’s weight for day-to-day operations.
# 4: One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Work trucks need to be upfitted for the unique jobs they’re being prepared to do. For example, upfitting an HVAC truck would involve storage of tanks and small parts, while a construction truck would require more flexible storage space. Upfitting has to be customized to be trade specific, and not planning for that early on can prove to be a costly mistake.
# 5: Look Beyond the Upfront Costs
By skimping on quality of materials and not getting things done right the first time, you risk the hassle and expense of replacements afterwards. An upfitting job that is done to last will pay for itself in the long run.
# 6: Don’t Use Multiple Vendors
A lot of fleet managers try to manage expenses by divvying up the upfitting tasks among several vendors. This is usually not a very practical solution. The truck has to move from one install location to another and the complications of working with multiple vendors soon begin to pile up, even as delivery schedules go awry and you end up wasting time and impacting productivity.
# 7: Upfitting is Not a DIY Project
Managers of small fleets may think they can pool knowledge and resources from their workforce and do an upfitting job by themselves to save money. This isn’t a good idea. Improper installations are not only expensive to fix afterwards, they can also prove to be dangerous and cause damage to your inventory of parts and equipment.
Let Custom Truck One Source upfit your truck! Our Roanoke location specializes in upfitting and can get you taken care of so you’re back on the road in no time. We upfit bodies from top leading manufacturers including Reading & Knapheide, Get a quote or give us a call: 844-282-1838.