THE 2012 Work Truck Show was one of the record books.

With more than 500,000 square feet of exhibit space and 563 exhibiting companies, this year's event was the largest that the National Truck Equipment Association has ever produced.

Here are some of the highlights of the work truck innovations that were on display:

Smart Body by Zip Truck Equipment

Smart Body qualifies for its name for several reasons. It is based on a modular subframe that can be mounted with multiple compartments to produce a highly customized truck body. The four-compartment version shown here essentially is a service body, while a two-compartment version has the compartments in the front and a platform in the rear half much like a ranch body. It also can be equipped with stake pockets and tie-down points.

Individual modules are available for either single- or dual-wheel chassis.

Developed initially for the towing industry, the body has upward-acting doors that do not open out into the flow of traffic. The compartments were designed to enable a tow truck to carry 18 automobile batteries. However, the design also attracted other end-users at The Work Truck Show who have asked for options more often used by utility fleets. The compartments shown here are 34 inches deep and can be equipped with dividers and shelving.

The design provides a high level of customization without an equally high level of inventory. The modular concept also offers shipping efficiency — enabling 16 bodies to fit on a single trailer. The Smart Body is a product of Zip's Truck Equipment, New Hampton IA. (www.zips.com)

Under control. Glenn Beck explains the new Charge electric control system for medium-duty trucks produced by Henderson Products, Manchester IA. The system brings control of all snow-control components under one central electronic system — snowplow, dump body, spreader, and liquid deicing equipment.

Designed to replace a central hydraulic system, the Charge uses a CAN bus system to bring all functions related to the snow control equipment under the control of a single joy stick. The electronics take advantage of GPS technology to regulate the spreader based on the desired application rate and the speed of the vehicle.

The customer benefits through improved fuel economy and more precise application of snow and ice control materials, the company says. Meanwhile, plug-and-play installation reduces shop time, according to Henderson's Marty Ward. Compared with the 120 hours typically required to upfit a medium-duty truck controlled by a central hydraulic system, the Charge system makes it possible to trim installation time by 40-50 hours. Henderson equipment is tailored for Ford, Dodge, and the International Terrastar medium-duty trucks. (www.hendersonproducts.com)

Van conversion. Knapheide Manufacturing has developed a cab enclosure for GM cutaway vans, enabling the 14,500-lb GVWR chassis to be used for a variety of commercial truck body applications, such as the platform body shown here. (www.knapheide.com)

No rust here. This aluminum platform also offers aluminum stakes. The body includes aluminum diamond plate floor, three-inch channel crossmembers on 12-inch centers, five-inch J-section long sills, and 3 ½" × 5 ½" extruded side rails. LED lighting is standard. It is a product of M H Eby, Blue Ball PA. (www.mheby.com)

Body up, weight down. TruckCraft, Chambersburg PA, displayed its new TC-120 dump body made of weight-saving aluminum. Build to fit within a standard pickup box, the TC-120 has a floor made of aluminum extrusions that is reinforced every five inches — a tongue-and-groove design used in roll-back car carriers. The result is a rigid design, but one that puts the bottom of the payload a mere 3 ¼” above the floor of the pickup box. It includes three-way tailgate, three-stage telescopic hoist, and a Monarch hydraulic pump that can be controlled remotely up to 12 feet away. (www.truckcraft.com)

Tipping the scales. Crysteel Manufacturing brought its Aluminum E-Tipper dump body to Indianapolis. The company claims that the design tips the scales as much as 50% less than traditional carbon steel dump bodies. Drop-down sides provide convenient access to the load. (www.crysteel.com)

Cold plates. Morgan Corporation has developed insulated van bodies that use cold plate refrigeration systems. According to Morgan, a cold plate blower system offers low maintenance, reduced operating costs when compared with an engine-driven system, and the ability to hold temperature longer in the event of an equipment failure. The body shown here is designed for medium temperature applications. (www.morgancorp.com)

Cool and clean. Michel Tétreault displays the transport refrigeration system from Frygy Cube International of Sherbrooke, Quebec. The electrically powered system relies primarily on shore power to cool the plates, but the compressor can also be powered by a truck-mounted inverter. Frygy Cube developed the system with the help of the LTE (Hydro-Québec's research center) and the Agence d'efficacité énergétique du Québec. (www.frygycube.com)

Instant crane body. Just add the Challenger bolt-in crane reinforcement from Stahl, and existing service bodies can accommodate corner-mounted cranes. To make the conversion, drill some mounting holes, bolt the crane reinforcement option to the body, and mount the body to the chassis. Joe Halpin explains the process. (www.stahltruckbodies.com)

Making more room. Duane Smith displays the new drawer modules, one way to maximize the storage capability of service body compartments. They are available from Pro Tech Industries, Vancouver WA. (www.protech.net)

Composite service body. LEER introduced a composite service body labeled the CP98.

Standard features include aluminum powder coated subframe, front spring mounting system, LED lighting, 3/16-inch aluminum bulkhead, rear aluminum step bumper, 1/8-inch aluminum tread plate floor, and removable tailgate. Door hinges are mounted with no exposed hardware, providing clear open areas for easy installation of exterior graphics.

The LEER CP98 can be customized with optional features like ladder racks, a transverse compartment, storage bins, slide trays, a master locking system, compartment lighting packages, and a Pace Edwards retractable utility bed cover. (www.truckgroup.com)

How low can you go? For those who get a little concerned about driving a heavy piece of equipment up a ramp to load it onto a trailer, here's a solution. The Lo Riser platform trailer from Advance Metalworking Co knows how to get down. Hydraulic cylinders put the deck at ground height, providing a 4° loading angle.

The company's new four-wheel, 16,000-lb capacity trailer, is now available. It has a GVWR of 19,850 pounds and maximum payload capacity of 16,000 pounds. It also offers a lockable storage area and four-position hitch height adjustment. (www.lift-a-load.com)

Working van. The TerraMaxx van from Turtle Top provides more than 600 cubic feet of cargo capacity or working room. Mounted on either an E-350 or E-450, the vehicle can be equipped with specific packages for electricians, plumbers, and other contractors, parcel delivery service, and dry cleaning conveyor systems.

The one-piece fiberglass body offers plenty of inside working height — up to seven feet. The TerraMaxx is a product of Turtle Top Inc, New Paris IN. (www.turtletop.com)

Filled with sand. It would take far more than an hour for the sand inside this service body to pass through an hourglass. Brand FX loaded this fiberglass service body with 3,000 pounds of sand to drive home the fact that its low tare weight enables it to be loaded with 3,000 pounds and still be within the 10,000 pound GVWR of the chassis. According to the Fort Worth TX company, the 56 LS Multi-Purpose Vehicle is about half the weight of a comparable steel body. (www.brandfxbody.com)

Combination service and van body is the latest from Unicell Body Company, Buffalo NY. The Servicell van body starts with a one-piece fiberglass outer shell. A translucent skylight and two LED lamps in the ceiling provide light inside. Options include sliding access door in the bulkhead, aluminum ladder racks, and aluminum or steel diamond plate floor overlay. (www.unicell.com)

New foam in place. Johnson Truck Bodies announced that its Rice Lake WI plant has been equipped with a new foam insulation process that will improve thermal performance of its refrigerated van bodies. The new process was expected to be used on all Johnson vans by the end of March.

By combining new high-pressure injection equipment and improved foam chemistry, Johnson expects to improve the R-value of its truck bodies by 5%. The tighter cell structure of the foam makes the material resist heat more effectively, and the new foam injection equipment improves consistency of the mix ratios.

The company also expects a 9% gain in structural stability of wall and ceiling panels, the result of higher injection rates that enable the foam to fully react to the panels. A more stable blowing agent reduces the amount of “out gassing” that can degrade the thermal resistance of the foam. (www.johnsontruckbodies.com)

Bigg Dogg. Buyers Products displayed the biggest dogg in its litter of SaltDogg spreaders. The new SHPE 6000 shown here has a six-cubic-yard capacity and can handle 1,344 pounds. The polyethylene hopper feeds a six-inch auger powered by a 12-volt DC motor. It can deliver material up to 30 feet away. (www.saltdogg.com)

Find the NTEA Work Truck Show Report archive with articles from 2012 to present