Pickup trucks serve many diverse roles on the jobsite - people mover, mobile office and tool box, to name a few. Manufacturers recognize the need to address the unique demands placed on these trucks, and have developed packages and options that allow you to tailor your vehicles for maximum return.
Package focused on productivity
Ford Motor Company recently developed its Ford Work Solutions options for its F-Series trucks, E-Series vans and Transit Connect. They are comprised of four product offerings: an in-dash computer, Tool Link, Crew Chief and a cable lock. You can configure a package tailored to your operation.
"All of the features are available individually (a la carte) with the exception of Tool Link, which requires the computer to display its list of what's missing," says Bill Frykman, product & business development, Ford Work Solutions.
The dash-mounted computer uses Internet connectivity (Sprint Mobile Broadband Network, Bluetooth-enabled hands-free calling and navigation by Garmin) to bring the office to the jobsite. "Access the Internet to review wiring diagrams or reference documents. Navigate to a jobsite with Garmin's navigation application. Use the word processing application to develop a job estimate," says Frykman. "With LogMeIn, remotely access an office computer, open QuickBooks, edit an invoice and print it in the truck - on the work site - while saving the data back on the home/office computer."
Tool Link by DeWalt helps ensure you have the right tool for the job. "Tool Link uses RFID technology to read durable RFID tags (each less than $1) in the pickup box or in the back of the van," Frykman explains. "Tag tools and other critical equipment, add them to Ford's patented job list application on the computer and you will know if anything is missing. No longer will you forget to load a tool for a specific job in the morning, or leave a critical tool behind at day's end."
Any tool you currently own can be tracked with this technology. "The Tool Link tags can be applied to virtually anything using their adhesive backing or a zip tie," says Frykman. "One contractor told us he tagged his estimates clipboard to help make sure it's not forgotten."
Crew Chief is an OEM-installed telemetry solution that remotely tracks where fleet vehicles are and how they are operating. "Using GPS technology, Crew Chief will monitor where the vehicle has been and when it stopped," says Frykman. "Hours of operation or geographic boundaries can be monitored.
"In addition, the telemetry box monitors the vehicle's (and driver's) performance via a direct connection into the vehicle's electrical system," he continues. "Now the fleet manager can remotely monitor fuel economy, jack rabbit starts, engine idle time and even seat belt usage. The dispatcher can easily identify the location of all the vehicles via the Crew Chief web site."
A Master Lock-developed cable lock mounts in the pickup bed and offers 10 ft. of 3/8-in. braided steel cable to lock up generators, compressors, etc., stored in the open bed. "When not in use, the cable retracts into a spool mechanism, so it's out of the way," says Frykman.
As with any technology, you need to weigh the benefits vs. the acquisition costs. The MSRP for Ford Work Solutions is as follows: computer, $1,195 with two price plans for connectivity; Tool Link, $1,120; Crew Chief, $380 with a $20 monthly service fee; and Cable lock, $120.
Everything has its place
Storage space is a critical issue when trying to store and retrieve gear day in and day out. To address this, the 2010 Dodge Ram trucks feature innovative storage solutions.
"The 2010 Dodge Ram (2500/3500) heavy-duty pickups and 2011 Dodge Ram chassis cabs feature a new center console with an upper bin that is large enough to hold a laptop computer - with an available 115-watt, 150-amp power outlet in the instrument panel - and a lower bin that accommodates hanging files," says Roger Benvenuti, manager of Jeep/Dodge Truck Communications.