Manufacturers Build Your Ideas

As an equipment manufacturer, Wayne Engineering's role is to work with fleet managers to design a body that will fulfill their operational needs. Fleet managers are the experts in determining those needs; manufacturers are the experts in designing and building trucks and bodies.

In this country, the chassis manufacturer is the entity that bids on a municipal refuse truck contract. The truck body is considered a subset bid it is bid to the chassis dealer, along with all the other accouterments manufacturers of cameras, lifters, tires, etc.

The fact that a body manufacturer is a bidder to the chassis manufacturer complicates most refuse collection vehicle purchases. While the belief is that this process provides the lowest, "qualified" bid, it typically means that quality suffers in the name of price.

The method Taiwan uses to bid on refuse vehicles illustrates a different approach: Manufacturers bid using two sealed envelopes. The first envelope contains the response to the request for specifications. If the specifications bid does not meet muster, then the second envelope, which contains the price, is never opened. Thus, if the quality isn't there, the fleet manager is not influenced by a low bid.

Some U.S. operations have discovered that their refuse bodies are wearing out at twice the rate of their chassis. Not too long ago, these same customers were having the reverse experience.

If this is the result of the low-bid-over-quality rationale, then it seems like a false economy. To alleviate this:

* Buy from companies that have licensed engineers on staff. Professional expertise in manufacturing means a professional perspective in the handling of your specs.

* Demand that the bidding manufacturer prove its ability to deliver your specs.

* Start your selection process early enough to assure the equipment will be ready when you need it, without any compromise in quality.

* Emphasize life cycle costing, rather than low initial price. Excessive down time and early equipment death can give new meaning to the word "cheap."

* Specify the performance quality that is in your area of expertise, such as refuse density or product longevity.

Finally, as you spec equipment, review your operation's needs and spec'ing procedure, asking questions such as:

* How important are rapid delivery times?

* Is the lowest bid a dominant factor in your equipment selection?

* How often is quality your most important bidding consideration?

* How many of your specs are requirements that were borrowed from another operation or were developed for older generation equipment that needs to be updated?