A high, consistent on-time percentage is an indicator that a manufacturer can maintain lead...

A high, consistent on-time percentage is an indicator that a manufacturer can maintain lead times despite order requirements and outside influences.

Photo: Marion Body Works

Time is often not a luxury for commercial truck body buyers who need their bodies on time or sooner to keep their operations running efficiently. However, the meaning of “on time” may differ from one manufacturer to the next, and lead times can vary depending on capabilities, partners, and outside influences.

So, what can you expect when waiting for your commercial truck body orders?

Here are a few insights:

Lead Times for Commercial Truck Body Orders

A stock body that does not require customizations can potentially cut lead times down to 10 days if you are aligned with your manufacturer and everything goes according to plan. 

The lead time for stock bodies can increase if you place a large order, which we will cover more in a moment.

For custom-engineered vehicles (CEVs) and body orders that are more complicated, lead times can start to vary between operations and will take multiple weeks.

Where a standard stock body can potentially cut lead times to 10 days, highly customized truck...

Where a standard stock body can potentially cut lead times to 10 days, highly customized truck bodies can take multiple weeks to complete. Order sizes and market influences can also affect lead times.

Photo: Marion Body Works

Custom Truck Body Lead Times

Manufacturers that build in customization can usually keep their lead times consistent for custom commercial truck bodies, regardless of body type. They achieve this by including engineering time in each order time slot to anticipate customizations. Because of this, future standard and repeat custom orders may be completed faster because engineering time is either not required or already finished. 

If a custom order is very complicated, additional time may be added to the order to make sure the body is properly engineered. 

As a buyer, you’ll want to determine how fluid your builder is when it comes to these customizations. 

A manufacturer that primarily builds standardized truck bodies may require more time if the end user wants a custom solution, whereas a manufacturer that works specifically in customizations can stick to their typical schedule because the engineering time is already built in. They can give you a consistent lead time up front so you can make proper decisions based on the urgency of your needs.

Lead Times for Large Truck Body Orders

As we touched on earlier, large orders can increase lead times for commercial truck bodies.

If a manufacturer has capacity to build 20 truck bodies a week but receives an order for 60 bodies, the lead time to receive the full order may extend by a few weeks. When this happens, they should explain this right away and lay out when you can expect to receive the final truck. 

A benefit of large orders for multiple of the same truck body is that the manufacturer can find efficiencies in how to build the body and ultimately decrease the amount of time it takes the trucks to go down the line. 

The faster the floor can assemble the body, the faster you can get your trucks.

As a commercial truck body buyer, you should always be given a clear timeline for when you can...

As a commercial truck body buyer, you should always be given a clear timeline for when you can expect your finished product. 

Photo: Marion Body Works

Outside Influences on Lead Times

Unfortunately, lead times are occasionally affected by things beyond the control of the manufacturer. For example, shortages in building materials or add-on components can increase order lead times. 

Chassis, Fiberglass Reinforced Panels (FRP), lumber, and lift gate demands are just a few examples of such shortages.

A good manufacturer will control what they can and monitor supplies like FRP materials, but if they do have to cut into their stock and then there is a shortage, they may have to resort to extending their lead times.

Another influence is general economic conditions. If the economy is good and more people are ordering bodies, a manufacturer may reach its weekly capacity and therefore must extend lead times. 

Your inside sales rep can try to let you know when this might occur so you can place your orders before lead times extend.

On-Time Percentage for Truck Body Orders

One of the most important things to keep in mind is a manufacturer’s on-time percentage for truck body orders. 

A manufacturer that can maintain a consistently high on-time percentage despite customizations, order sizes, and market influences will make the body-buying experience better and less stressful.

Be sure to ask about this early in the process.

Quality Truck Bodies on Time

Like any industry, there will always be anomalies in lead times when it comes to commercial truck body buying and building. However, a strong manufacturer will understand what it takes to overcome challenges to remain consistent in delivering quality bodies on time.

As a buyer, you should never be left wondering where your body is. 

About the Author: Cal Kanowitz is the marketing and dealer development manager at Marion Body Works. Kanowitz has worked at Marion for over five years. This article was authored and edited according to WT editorial standards and style to provide useful information to our readers. Opinions expressed may not reflect that of WT.