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7 Questions to Ask When Spec'ing a Service Body

Service technicians utilize a variety of tools and equipment that must be kept organized and within reach. With the multitude of available options, these seven questions will help narrow the field.

November 2010, Work Truck - Feature

by Sean Lyden - Also by this author

Service bodies, also known as utility beds, are essentially heavy-duty toolboxes on wheels. They are available in a full range of configurations, sizes, materials, and other options, enabling service technicians to haul tools, equipment, and parts they need - organized for quick and easy access - to maximize jobsite productivity. Service bodies enable employees to focus time on doing the job, instead of fumbling through cluttered piles of parts to find the right one.

Typical industries that use service bodies include electrical, plumbing, mechanical, heating and air, mobile equipment service, and general construction. However, chances are, whatever the industry, if tools and parts of any kind are hauled in fleet trucks and vans, a company either utilizes service bodies or has at least looked into them.

What steps should be taken to spec a service body that's right for fleet? Use these seven questions as a guide.

1. What equipment will be hauled in the body?

Create a list of what a full load would contain, including estimated quantities and weight per unit. Include equipment, tools, parts, materials - whatever will be placed in the truck.

The list will dictate what compartment configuration will work best. Also ask an upfitter about bins, trays, and other options offered to determine how best to organize equipment for maximum productivity.

2. What will be hauled outside the body?

Will the vehicle haul ladders? Pipes? Conduit? A crane? Compressor? Auxiliary fuel tank? This will impact payload and whether racks and/or reinforcement are needed for the body to support the equipment.

"If you're going to mount a crane, for example, you need a heavier duty body," said Jim Brown, product manager for Omaha Standard Palfinger. "The body moves away from a standard service body and moves into a crane body, where the body can take the abuse of the day-to-day crane operations."

Whether or not equipment is mounted on top of the body also determines if a flip top can be spec'ed, which offers greater accessibility to tools and parts due to the ability to open the side box from the top. If equipment will be installed on top of the side compartments, the flip top won't work, requiring a standard solid top.

3. Will the vehicle's payload require an enclosed body for more space, or protection from the elements and theft?

A standard service body is open in the center with a tailgate, similar to a pickup bed. If materials can be thrown in the back of a truck without concern of corrosion or theft, an enclosure is not necessary. However, if extra hauling capacity with greater security and protection is necessary, consider enclosure options, which typically include a low-profile sliding roof or high roof available in several heights.

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