Even small changes can make a big difference. Do you know what OEM changes impact your current...

Even small changes can make a big difference. Do you know what OEM changes impact your current or planned upfits? 

Photo: Canva/Work Truck

Today’s the day — your brand-new trucks are delivered, and technicians get to work transferring upfits. But something is wrong. It doesn’t fit. Or, perhaps you forgot to double-check that the equipment you always order still fits your new trucks. And surprise, it doesn’t.

“There are various changes an OEM can make, ranging from minor tweaks to wholesale updates that may alter your upfit strategy. Whether it’s electrical wiring changes, a shift in battery placement, body molding updates, fuel line routing, etc., one seemingly small change can significantly impact an upfit package and how an upfitter completes the build,” said Blake Heiser, fleet & strategic sales manager, manufacturing & distribution for Holman.

Even small changes can make a big difference.

“If an OEM changes the fill cap (gas) or any type of attachment system, that can affect the install of our accessories,” said Mike Bykowski, director of product management at Weather Guard.

More major changes, such as changing the geometry of the vehicle (wheelbase, roof height, etc.) might be obvious, but even “changing from one model-year body style to another can change the interior package as it may fit differently,” said Chad Heminover, president of Shyft Fleet Vehicles & Services.

The same can be said with moving from one OEM to another. The body of the vehicle from one platform to another may necessitate changes in the upfit.

“The latest tech options from an OEM can also affect upfit add-on items. For example, OEM reverse sensors and larger ‘shock’ style rear bumpers don’t always play nicely together and may require adding or deleting specific chassis options from the OEM vehicle build spec, or removing something from your upfit package,” Heminover added.

Top Tips for Mitigating Changes First

It’s not all doom and gloom; there are a few things that fleet managers can do so they aren’t caught off-guard with increased vehicle downtime as a result.

Probably the most straightforward solution: “Call in advance and see what the trucks are compatible with,” Bykowski recommended. 

And don’t forget to work with the upfitter during the quoting and planning process to ensure vehicle option and upfit package compatibility are key to a successful build.

“Working with the OEM and upfitting BEFORE the chassis is delivered from the OEM is key,” Heminover said.

One specific tip comes in for vocational open-deck trailers.

“Make sure to specify a Double L winch track or C channel slider winch track and watch out for proprietary designs from trailer OEMs. Some manufacturers have custom designed-track or winches. But, if you damage one and you’re in the middle of Dubuque, Iowa, and need to get a replacement, it’s not very easy. Stick with the most popular common products in terms of load securement winches and winch tracks. That way, you assure yourself that there’s a ready supply nationwide,” said Ralph Abato, president, managing director for Doleco.

Changes are Inevitable, But There is Help

Remember, you aren’t alone and don’t have to do all the research yourself.

“Virtually all leading upfitters have visibility to these types of changes well in advance and will be prepared to help fleet operators adjust specifications accordingly,” Heiser said. “This is a perfect example of why a multi-year relationship with your fleet management provider and upfit partners is extremely beneficial for most fleet operators.”

Heiser recommended fleets should ideally look for a collaborative partnership to help them overcome these supply chain challenges and bring continuity to the entire process.

“If you find yourself in a cycle of constant change, always looking for the fastest or cheapest option, you’ll likely have a harder time staying ahead of these changes and experience a greater number of disruptions that will impact your fleet stakeholders,” Heiser said.

Bykowski agreed that help is important.

“We are always staying ahead of the new trucks and their changes. Changes can make a big impact on overall product availability and overall fleet decisions,” he said. 

Now you know more about what fits your truck, but do you know where your truck is? Check out current info on truck orders and acquisitions

About the author
Lauren Fletcher

Lauren Fletcher

Executive Editor - Fleet, Trucking & Transportation

Lauren Fletcher is Executive Editor for the Fleet, Trucking & Transportation Group. She has covered the truck fleet industry since 2006. Her bright personality helps lead the team's content strategy and focuses on growth, education, and motivation.

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