How To Approach Fleet Upfit Planning

One of the more complicated fleet management job aspects is performing upfitting on a vehicle. So, to put together an entire fleet upfit makes the job even harder. There are numerous ways for things to go wrong. To assist in the process, we’ve put together information from some of the experts when it comes to upfitting and commercial fleets. With better spec’ing and planning – and therefore, fewer mistakes – the upfitting process can be optimized. The following are some fleet upfit process improvements.

OEM Cut-Offs

Get your orders placed in advance. There’s no sense making more work because of sporadically considered cut-offs and build-outs. Reworking can be prevented if orders are placed long before the cut-off point. This also prevents out-of-stock solutions, which can be costly. Establish a backup plan, as well.

Planning Fleet Upfit Lateness

Before it’s too late, devise your plan. New model upfits must meet certain requirements. Leaving adequate time for transportation, upfitting, and production, begin your planning cycle early. You can better meet your fleet’s needs by establishing the requested delivery date up front.

Upfit Versus Out-Of-Stock

You can save considerable out-of-stock vehicle interest charges if you (for example) order a chassis at the same time you order upfitting. You’ll also be saving money on options that are unnecessary because you will get a chassis at your spec rather than some out-of-stock purchase. To be sure they understand your needs, stay in close contact with your upfitter or FMC.

If Possible, Standardize

Frequently, too many options or specs are allowed by fleets. Whenever possible, you should standardize your upfit package. Without certain levels of standardization, it becomes more difficult to move vehicles from one location to another.

Communication Is Key

Communicate to all parties any spec changes. Make sure that the FMC is involved as well as material or upfit vendors. This will help lessen the chances of incorrect upfits.

Document Everything

To ensure that an agreement is in place, have a process for document approval that identifies the end-user and the spec development provider. Additionally, the process should be memorialized. Lessons learned from your entire outfit process should be included in documentation which will lessen the chance for errors being repeated.

All Options Should Be Considered

At the time of your chassis order or vehicle order placement, all options should be considered. You certainly don’t want required aftermarket up-fitting being left out, or a vehicle with an incomplete chassis, showing up at the vendor or dealer. Months or weeks could be added to the overall lead time if a vendor is not aware that the vehicle is on the way, or if they are not aware of upfitting requirements.

There Is No One-Size-Fits-All

Never assume that what worked in the past will work once again. This is a common mistake. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to upfitting.

Be Realistic with Expectations

What are your expectations? Before matching them with the capabilities of the supply chain, make sure they are well established. The entire process, from selectors/specs creation all the way to the driver’s hand holding the keys, should be considered. This is referred to as the full ODT scope (order-to-delivery). To avoid last-minute placement of orders, stay current with OEM build schedule information. Make sure that timing estimates are realistic.

Operational Requirements Should Be Well Understood

Much consideration and thought goes into the vehicle upfit process. It will cost fleet managers work inefficiencies, time, and money if details are missed. Things to think of:

  • The vehicle’s operational requirements
  • For the job at hand, which upfitting options are correct

Also consider the following factors:

  • Cargo loading requirements
  • Cargo
  • Maintenance
  • Payload
  • Annual mileage
  • Weather
  • Terrain
  • Usage

Finally, End-Users Should Be Involved

In upfitting spec discussions, the actual end-user should be involved. Fleet managers make the mistake of neglecting this step far too frequently. In every upfitting discussion, the following people should be involved:

  • Field technician
  • Branch manager
  • Actual end-user

In this manner, everyone will be familiar with how their ability to do their jobs efficiently, effectively, and safely relates to the equipment. Mickey Genuine Parts has certified service centers located throughout the United States. We can help with not only upfitting your fleet, but a regular maintenance plan, accessorizing, and more. Contact us today to find out more about what Mickey can do for you.

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