Pickups Transform to Jobsite Tools

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.

There are several other storage compartments, as well. "Additional storage locations are built into the instrument panel, front and rear door panels, seat backs and even the floor," Benvenuti notes. "In the crew-size cab, two in-floor bins located in the rear foot wells of the crew cab offer storage enough for ten 12-oz. cans... Upper and lower glove boxes provide a total of more than 800 cu. in. of storage."

Optional accessories from Mopar allow the truck to be customized for your particular needs. These include both permanent-mount and sliding storage boxes and a ladder rack.

Electronic devices also promote productivity. "Dodge offers uconnect phone, which uses Bluetooth technology to provide voice-controlled wireless communication between the occupants' compatible mobile phone and the vehicle's onboard receiver. The hands-free option promotes safety, freedom, value and flexibility," Benvenuti points out. In addition, the uconnect navigation system is integrated into the radio and features a 7-in. in-dash screen.

Designed for multi-tasking
If you need to stay in touch with the office while transporting gear and people to/from the jobsite, the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups offer several options.

"All full-size trucks have Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free calling and other Bluetooth functionality," says Brian Goebel, Chevrolet Communications. In addition, Onstar 8.0 offers advanced features, including turn-by-turn navigation and Destination Download, which automatically downloads requested directions to the navigation system. Available with XM Satellite radio service, NavTraffic delivers real-time traffic advisements through the navigation system.

For transporting gear, GM offers a cargo management system. Three rails that run the length of the box sides and the forward box wall are secured with high-strength anchors and incorporate upper and lower tracks. "Cargo management system rails can support ladder carriers, bed dividers/extenders, mounted toolboxes of different sizes, etc.," says Goebel.

Four adjustable tie-down brackets are included with each system, and can be located anywhere on the tracks. Each is rated for a load point of 500 lbs.

A group of specific accessory products is designed to integrate into the cargo management system. The rails enable use of an overhead utility rack rated at a 500-lb. loading capacity; a sliding diamond plate toolbox; sliding bed divider; and diamond plate side storage boxes. These accessories use either the upper or lower rails, allowing numerous combinations that can easily fit together or bypass one another as they slide along the rails. The toolboxes use a code-able lock, enabling the vehicle key to be used for locking and unlocking these accessories.

GM also places an emphasis on storage with its lockable under seat storage and a large-capacity, double glove box integrated into the instrument panel.

A simple solution
While some desire a truck laden with productivity-enhancing features, others want just a basic truck minus the expensive options. Many truck manufacturers have responded with work truck packages.

While Toyota offers a Platinum Package with such features as a navigation system and ventilated leather seats, it has also become the latest manufacturer to offer a Work Truck Package. The package is designed to deliver only the features commercial truck buyers need to get the job done, and is priced accordingly.

On the outside, black bumpers and grille surround will replace chrome. Power mirrors are replaced by manual outside rearview mirrors.

Inside, the truck features washable vinyl bench seats and rubber floors. Several standard personal use features have been replaced or removed. The package also excludes cruise control and the remote keyless entry, although separate Work Truck packages will be offered with these features.

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