The most common format of specifications for work truck bodies and equipment is the hybrid. Functional and performance specifications are also useful when issuing requests for proposals (RFP) or requests for information (RFI). Truck chassis specifications are typically a special variation of an engineered specification where the writer calls out specific components and design requirements based on the engineering work that has already been done by the chassis manufacturer.
Beyond the various types of specifications, there are two common formats for writing specs. Using the matrix format, the writer lists a specific item or requirement in one column and then provides a brief description in another column. This format works very well for chassis. Using the narrative format, which is popular for bodies and equipment, is the narrative style, where the writer provides longer, more detailed descriptions for each requirement.
While a properly written specification can save you money and ensure that the finished product meets your requirements, a poorly written specification can cost you money. If the specification is too loose, the vendor's product may not meet your requirements and you could incur additional expense in the form of change orders, reduced productivity, or higher maintenance costs over the life of the unit. On the other hand, a specification that is written too tightly may force suppliers to make changes to their standard products that serve no real purpose.
When writing specifications, it is critical to strike the appropriate balance between defining exactly what you need and allowing vendors to utilize their standard components to the greatest extent possible.
A significant amount of information on truck specifications is available to fleet managers through the National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA). The information is currently posted on the association's website at www.ntea.com.
Several educational sessions on work truck specification development are slated for The Work Truck Show® 2011, which runs March 7-10, 2011, at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, IN. Topics include: designing work truck bodies and equipment, chassis specification development, powertrain analysis, and truck frame basics. Throughout the year, the NTEA also offers a two-day training seminar on developing and writing work truck specifications. For more information about either opportunity, visit www.ntea.com or call (800) 441-6832.
Robert "Bob" Johnson is a former fleet manager and currently serves as director of fleet relations for the National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA). He will lead three technical sessions on work truck specification at The Work Truck Show® 2011: "Optimizing Work Truck Body and Equipment Specifications," "How to Ensure Your Next Truck Chassis Matches the Job Requirements" and "Spec'ing Your Next Truck Powertrain for Optimum Efficiency & Performance." He is also co-presenting the expanded Fleet Management Symposium on March 7-8.