Forklift buyers are increasingly looking for more customizable and unique truck modification request (TMR) options, such as advanced technology, specialized overhead guards and company-branded paint jobs, to meet the needs of the environment in which they operate. In an effort to provide timely responses to ever-increasing truck modification requests, UniCarriers Americas (UCA) has consistently made improvements to its TMR process.
Mark McGee, supervisor of modifications engineering for UniCarriers Americas, attributes a more streamlined paperless process as a key factor in reducing TMR order processing times. “All the information and details we used for design used to be heavily focused on paper, and now it’s completely electronic from beginning to end,” said McGee. “Moving to a fully electronic process has allowed us to perform at a more efficient rate.”
In addition, the TMR team has pivoted to hosting a cross-functional meeting as soon as an order comes in. “We’re monitoring more complex orders in real time. As soon as an order comes in, we get together as a cross-functional team to review the customer requirements and commit to deliverables to meet those requirements,” said McGee.
Paul Berkes, director of production control and logistics for UniCarriers Americas, said his team has improved the way it communicates with the sales team. “Our process of reviewing TMRs with the sales team in the past was very manual and often focused on process issues rather than the orders themselves,” said Berkes. “Moving from a manual, paper-based system to a more automated system has allowed us to focus our efforts less on the process and more on what actions need to happen to deliver results that exceed both internal and external customer expectations.”
Berkes’s team monitors and measures the performance of UCA’s TMR process. “Our most important responsibility is to deliver every order on time no matter how complex or challenging the delivery commitment is,” said Berkes. “And we’re doing a much better job at keeping our delivery promise.”
In the last year, TMR processing times have gone from 25 days to 18 days and committed ship dates have been achieved at a 95.9 percent rate, an increase of 5.9 percent.
For one of UCA’s customers, a major freight company, TMR processing times have improved over the last year, going from 13 days to 8 days. “This year, we met 100 percent of the client’s requirements. We’re very happy with how pleased they’ve been, and we strive to continue delivering that level of performance,” said McGee.
Advanced TMR options are having an effect on buyers’ purchasing behaviors. Carl Modesette, director of product engineering for UniCarriers Americas, states their National Accounts have very specific needs and wants, and most of their trucks have to be designed the same way. More complex features are being added and more technology is being integrated into the trucks, so UCA is streamlining and improving the TMR process in the factory. “Some of the National Account orders we’ve received in the past would not have been secured if not for our advanced TMR options,” said Modesette.
Modesette states more options with quick turnaround times is a big focus of the company and that UCA is rolling out projects that meet customers’ demands. “In the last year, we introduced Model Refresh 2017 that released a lot of high-volume TMR options. Now for customers who seek more customized options, they’re available as standard price book options.”
Modesette said UCA is currently working on another project that will release additional high-volume options. “This will unload the burden from the TMR team, allowing them to focus their time on the more complex, heavy-customizable solutions,” Modesette adds.
When asked what the most unique feature about UCA’s TMR process is, Modesette states the on-line customization. “Integrating TMRs into our online manufacturing process allows us to offer more options than competitors. We’re able to meet customers’ demands at a higher rate, a real game changer in the industry.”
“A lot of our customers request variable features, and we’re willing to do it,” Modesette adds. “For example, telematics is huge right now. Our end customers have different preferences to their telematics system and often request UCA to install them at the factory. We’ve deployed many different telematics systems.”
UCA is also monitoring areas of improvement more closely. This year, UCA has implemented cross-functional meetings that bring in a pilot truck and perform a walk around to spot any issues and review all requirements for delivery and installation.
As TMRs increase and become more and more prevalent among forklift customers, so are the needs to constantly improve the TMR process. UCA is staying ahead to make sure customers’ needs are met and quality and reliability never waiver.
To learn more about UniCarriers Americas’ TMR options, contact TMR Support at TMRSupport@UniCarriersAmericas.com.