The growing popularity of online purchases is increasing demand for delivery vehicles, and based on some of the new truck bodies shown at this year’s Work Truck Show, truck body manufacturers are responding.

Even trailer manufacturers are crossing into the truck body market in an effort to meet the needs of long-standing customers and to generate some new ones.

Other trends apparent at this year’s show are the growing need for lighter vehicles. This is showing up with an increase in bodies made from lighter materials—particularly aluminum—and composite truck bodies that save weight with the added benefit of avoiding rust and corrosion.

Here are some examples of the introductions at this year’s event, held March 15-17 in Indianapolis:


Concept delivery truck. Supreme Industries unveiled a concept vehicle for delivering either beverages or packages. Conceived initially as a way to make delivery of beer kegs more ergonomic, the idea has been expanded to include other applications as well. Supreme is partnering with Precision Distribution Consulting to develop a loading and unloading system that moves shelves of product vertically inside the body to place them at a convenient height. The system is designed to eliminate the need for liftgates, loading ramps, and climbing in and out of the truck body for certain applications. Among them: beverage, snack and other food delivery, auto parts, and office supplies.

The truck shown here has the Precision Distribution Consulting system installed in one cargo bay. In practice, the system would be installed in all of them. This photo shows it being applied for keg delivery. A similar system for parcel delivery is installed on the street side of the truck.

To reduce tare weight, the body can be made of Supreme’s proprietary FiberPanel honeycomb composite sidewalls. The composite panels plus other customized features can reduce the weight of the body by 27%. This translates into a 1000-pound reduction on a 26-foot body. www.supremecorp.com
 

Going the final mile. Wabash National has entered the truck body market, leveraging its reputation among its motor carrier customers that are adding straight truck applications to complete in the growing “final mile” market.

Wabash has become North America’s largest trailer manufacturer thanks in large part to its DuraPlate sidewall design. The new dry-freight van shown here at The Work Truck Show uses new DuraPlate panels that incorporate a polypropylene honeycomb core to reduce panel weight by 22%. It also leverages the deep bottom rail design that has proved popular with trailer customers. The deep aluminum extrusion adds strength, and it provides an integral scuff plate for a snag-free surface during loading and unloading.

Wabash also offers a refrigerated body that touts 20% better thermal efficiency, the result of no metallic contact. The new composite body also saves weight by being molded in such a way that the strongest portions of the body are matched with the areas where stress is greatest. It has the same 16,000-pound floor rating as its dry-freight counterpart.

The body mounds to the chassis with a system of galvanized hangers and galvanized rail that is bonded to the body. www.wabash-trailers.com/products/truck-bodies
 

Great Dane delivers. Great Dane has been building trailers for over a century, but the company has begun expanding its products to include truck bodies, first with the acquisition of Johnson Truck Bodies of Rice Lake, Wisconsin, and more recently with its own line of truck bodies. The company’s latest—the Sahara dry-freight van—targets final-mile delivery operations. The 26-foot truck body shown here is sheet-and-post construction. The company has developed a new blade-lock design that strengthens the security of the side entry door. Multiple grab handles at the rear and sides improve ergonomics, and a Grote LED lighting system improves illumination and service life. www.greatdanetrailers.com


More maneuverable. This new Guardian refrigerated truck body mounts on a Ford Transit 350HD chassis, making the truck more maneuverable in crowded urban environments. The composite fiberglass body is 10’5” long and comes with a payload capacity of 3,200 pounds. It is illuminated inside and out with LED lights, including recessed DOT clearance and cluster lights. The body also has automotive door locks with keyless entry.  www.johnsontruckbodies.com


New upfit facility. John Forbes, president of Utilimaster, announces that the company’s upfit facility in Kansas City is now operational. Located near the manufacturing plant where Ford produces Transit vans, the facility installs cargo van equipment under the name Spartan Upfit Services.

“Spartan Upfit Services is a cost-effective, modernized fleet upfit assembly operation dedicated to the customization of cargo vans and other midsize fleet vehicles servicing the utility, telecom, health care, construction, food and beverage and parcel-delivery markets,” Forbes said.

Spartan offers a combination of kits and base packages with corresponding customized services, while common vocational packages are available for quick delivery. Recently launched in Kansas City, the operation is getting its start in a new 50,000-square-foot building allowing vehicles to be processed via the Ford Ship-Thru Program. www.spartanmotors.com/upfitservices/


Light and easy. Van bodies from ErgöVan USA offer weight savings, along with easy access to the cargo. The company, based in Stuart, Florida, specializes in creating custom service bodies from the company’s patented Coratec panels and aluminum extrusions.

An eight-foot service box weighs just 600-lbs, the company says. The panels, imported from Switzerland, are an inch thick and weigh 1.434 pounds per square foot. They are weather-resistant between -40°F and 176°F. The company offers a variety of options, including central locking systems, windows LED lighting, refrigeration, and shelving systems. ErgöVan USA is a subsidiary of Copanco USA. www.ergovan.net


Team effort. Morgan Corporation and CellTech Metals are working together to introduce this van body made of lightweight panels to the truck body industry. The companies have entered into an exclusive development agreement to integrate structural CellTech wall panels and all metal sandwich floor systems into Morgan’s fleet of dry freight truck bodies.

Sidewalls feature flush-mounted cargo management track system. The E Track systems are integrated prior to truck body assembly and are compatible with traditional captive decking and cargo management systems. The all-metal floor system is designed to reduce weight and increase cube. Retractable rear steps ease getting in and out of the truck body. www.morgancorp.com and www.celltechmetals.com


Up next. Morgan Corporation rolled out its NexGen ‘Next Generation’ of truck bodies for dry and refrigerated applications.

The body is 15-20% lighter than comparable designs, according to Morgan, the result of its non-corrosive panel construction and its floors—stain-resistant phenolic flooring in the dry freight body and an aluminum “silent floor” in the reefer. NexGen bodies are designed with elastomeric gaskets in the connection profiles that provide the ultimate protection from water intrusion. Current production is available from Pennsylvania, Oregon, and California plants with continued production rollouts planned for the Midwest in 2017. www.morgancorp.com/dry-freight/nexgen/features.php


Upfitter-friendly food truck. There are more than 200 food truck upfitters in the U S, and Morgan Olson thinks it’s time they had a walk-in van that they don’t have to remove standard shelving things out before they can begin upfitting the vehicle as a food truck.

“The design of the Foundation food truck gives food truck upfitters roughly a 25% head start on building these custom kitchens,” said Rich Tremmel, Morgan Olson’s vice-president of sales and marketing.

The new Foundation walk-in van is just that—the foundation for food trucks. Key features include heavy duty, reinforced steel roof beam support for various sized exhaust fans and ceiling mounted air conditioners. The entire width of the walk-in van body has been increased to 96” providing food truck operators additional “work space” in their mobile kitchens. The side-walls of the walk-in van body have received special attention with the addition of reinforced, extruded “H” beam sidewall studs (16 “ OC) featuring pre-drilled wire chase holes to help upfitters run the many wire service connections needed to power these mobile food kitchens. www.morganolson.com


More work from your work truck. TruckCraft has redesigned its TC-202 all aluminum combination service and dump body. Light enough for pickup box removal, the TC-200 combines the extensive use of aluminum with the absence of a service body floor to bring the weight of this versatile body to within a couple hundred pounds of that of the pickup box. The result is a dump body with a capacity of 7,000 pounds that also has the storage convenience of a service body. Designed for a single rear wheel truck with a 56-inch C/A, the kit bolts on to the chassis with virtually no modification. Kits are designed for full-size Chevy, Ford, and Ram pickups with box removed. www.truckcraft.com


Expanded product line. CM Truck Beds, known its ranch and gooseneck towing bodies, showed off its new service body product at The Work Truck Show. CM builds them in both steel (the SB model) and aluminum (SBA). The company offers them for mounting on 56”, 60”, and 84” C/A chassis. A variety of compartment configurations are available. www.cmtruckbeds.com


Gull wing about to fly? Reading Truck Body displayed this concept body—an aluminum version of its Classic II service body but with gull wings providing access to the compartments from the top. For certain applications, the gull wings help maximize storage. This particular body is designed for a Ram 3500. www.readingbody.com


New composite bodies. BrandFX launched the two composite service bodies at the Work Truck Show.

The UltimateFX service body is all-composite—including the understructure. The UtilityFX is the all-composite body for cutaway work van applications.

A crash test video was screened at the event revealing no permanent deformation or structural damage to the UltimateFX body/understructure after a simulation of a frontal crash in excess of 30 mph. Both products use advanced composite construction that is lighter than aluminum, designed to withstand the same rigors and working conditions of a steel body, and ultimately corrosion and oxidation free. www.BrandFXBody.com


A Stellar aluminum body. Stellar Industries displayed a new line of mechanic service bodies branded the TMAX Aluminum series. The body includes a tops made of aluminum extrusion. The extruded aluminum tops include two integral accessory mounting rails that eliminate the need to drill holes on the tops. The extrusions also include wire harness channels inside the compartments to simplify wiring while protecting it at the same time. www.stellarindustries.com


New and improved. RKI Inc displayed a number of new options at The Work Truck Show. They include a new weld-free shelf option for H series truck boxes that is adjustable in two-inch increments, an updated slide-out option for all of its service bodies (also adjustable in two-inch increments), and updated drawer systems for vertical compartments. The company also has a new service body for 37-inch Ram chassis. www.rki-us.com


Lightweight chipper. Drive Products is adding aluminum to their line truck bodies. This aluminum chipper body features D-rings inside all four corners of the body, tie-down rails on sides and tailgate to secure tarps and loads, tailgate dropdown safety chains, spreader chain holding retainer and LED lights. The one-piece floor design provides a smooth understructure and low mounting height for low center of gravity and increased stability. A choice of trunnion-mounted telescopic hoist or underbody scissor lift is available. Both hoist styles have greaseable pivots, fittings, latches and hinges. The Voth truck body brand remains following the recent acquisition by Drive Products Inc, a diversified company headquartered in Toronto, Ontario. www.driveproducts.com


Throwing deep. Buyers Products introduced a double-wall molded poly spreader that casts material up to 30 feet. It includes a 5.25” auger that is controlled inside the cab and driven by two 12-volt motors—one for the chain and another for the 14-inch poly spinner. Also included are a adjustable chute assembly, 200-pound vibrator, top screen, tarp, and tie-downs. www.buyersproducts.com


Lightweight landscaper. This 11-foot aluminum landscape body from M H Eby weighs only 1,185 pounds but can transport 10,840 pounds of payload. It has a 3/16” floor with three-inch crossmembers and five-inch J-section long sills. www.mheby.com


Modular truck body. Bedrock Truck Beds are built in modules in order to reduce SKUs. Example: the headache rack is adjustable to fit multiple trucks. The spare tire is modular, and the mudflaps are mounted on an adjustable mudflap kit. The company has been in operation for just over two years. It is a sister company of Ranch Hand Truckfitters. www.bedrocktruckbeds.com


Stainless steel dump bodies from Rugby Manufacturing are corrosion resistant and manufactured with 12-gauge material and a #4 polish finish. The stainless steel Eliminator LP is built with a one-piece floor, dirt shedding sides featuring a centrally located quick release lever on the fold down side doors. www.rugbymfg.com


Knapheide’s new gooseneck body. Knapheide Manufacturing Company introduced its aluminum platform gooseneck body. Available in 7’, 8’, 9’ and 11’ lengths, the body is made of marine-grade aluminum sheet and extrusions. The use of aluminum produces a body that is 40% lighter than a steel counterpart.

The reinforced stake pockets allow easy addition of sides—either by inserting 2” x 4” stakes or Knapheide-manufactured side accessories. Underbody tie-downs provide a reinforced points to attach cargo straps. www.knapheide.com 


Going pro. Blue Ridge Manufacturing LLC displayed its Freedom Pro-Contractor body that comes with a variety of features, including recess lights in the body and bulkhead, a 30,000-pound gooseneck hitch, and rear window visibility. Options include 10K bumper, toolboxes, and box extenders, ladder and material racks, and LED lighting. www.blueridgemfg.com

 

New trucks and equipment at The Work Truck Show

 

Removable liftgate. The new LiftGator removable liftgate earned the NTEA Innovation Award at this year’s Work Truck Show.

The Liftgator XTR model can lift 1,200 pounds. The LTE version has a capacity of 900 pounds. Each model mounts in a standard 2” or 2½ receiver hitch. It is equipped with a set of rollers that enable it to move easily to the back of the truck and slide into the hitch. It comes with its own battery mounted within the liftgate. More than 20 lifts can be completed on a single charge, and the self-contained battery system can be recharged using a truck’s seven-pin trailer connector or any 110-volt wall outlet.

It is designed to fit pickups or chassis cabs equipped with flatbed or utility bodies. No truck modifications are required. The Liftgator can be installed or removed in less than three minutes. It works with hitches with hitch heights of 24 inches or less and floor heights of up to 48 inches. When installed, LiftGator does not interfere with the sight line of the truck’s brake lights. When not attached, its three-section foldable platform gives the unit a small footprint that takes up little storage space. Liftgator’s Jason Russo demonstrates. www.liftgator.com


Off to a Smart Start. Parker Chelsea introduced a new option for the 249 Series PTO. The Smart Start design option manages the system pressure that is used to engage the PTO’s clutch pack, enabling it to absorb the torque spikes from the air compressor applications and provide a smooth engagement, free from the equipment damaging shock loads found on these types of applications. In addition, the Smart Start helps to protect the transmission by preventing the spike torque from being transferred downstream into the transmission, as Chelsea’s Jeff King explains.

Parker Chelsea also announced increased capacity for its 823 Series PTO. The extra capacity comes from high capacity bearings and gear designs that to provide a torque rating up to 750 lbs. ft. The 823 Series is an eight-bolt power take-off that offers four shift options. The seven internal gear ratios provide a wide variety of speeds. Seven output options range from companion flanges for remote mounted equipment to SAE “C” direct mount flanges and shafts. www.parker.com/chelsea


New Dogg, new tricks. Buyers Products introduced the new SnowDogg Generation II plow line with updates that evolve their most popular plow styles.

The Generation II plow line update includes a 20% expanded ground clearance as well as an increased stack and transport height for excellent snow stacking. Along with these improvements, Buyers engineered new prop feet for easy dismount. A new, single-piece chain lift and improved harness makes installation easier. New LED plow lights and a welded light bar design provide better visibility, and an improved A-frame optimizes support and balance.

The new VXF and HD/EX models are built to fit current SnowDogg mounting patterns allowing for easy transition. An easily removable panel provides for simple maintenance of the Generation II plows and the hand-held remote increases functionality. www.SnowDogg.com


Now in production. Mitsubishi Fuso announced that its all-electric Canter medium-duty truck is now in limited production and will be available in the U S before the end of this year.

The eCanter will be the first 100% electric work truck designed and produced by a major truck manufacturer, the company said. The Class 4 vehicle with have a 15,995-pound GVW rating and a payload rating of 9,380 pounds. It has a practical range up to 100 miles. It can be quick-charged in an hour and will fully charge in eight hours.

The eCanter may have a different powertrain, but it will utilize standard Canter specs, including 151.6-inch wheelbase, C/A, 33.5-inch-wide frame spacing, and body mounting system.

Fuso also announced at The Work Truck Show that it is partnering with PSI, General Motors, Powertrain, and Allison to offer gasoline-powered medium-duty trucks. Three models—the FE130, FE160, and FE180—will be available with the PSI-GMPT Vortec Series 6.0-liter V8 and Allison 1000 six-speed automatic transmission. They will have be available with PTO openings. They will be produced at Daimler’s Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation plant in Gaffney, South Carolina. Full launch will be in the first quarter of 2018. www.mitfuso.com