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Standard vs. Custom Truck Bodies

September 16th, 2016

Standard vs. Custom Truck Body


Should you choose a standard or custom body for your job? The decision can be a difficult one. As the name suggests, custom implies a truck body built to your exact specifications. While “custom” sounds like a perfect fit, there are cons that coincide with going that route. Let’s explore the pros and cons of both standard and custom truck bodies to better understand which option is the best for your next truck body.


Standard

Standardization was first pioneered in the automotive industry by Henry T. Ford. The same principle has been applied to the truck body industry. Today, truck body manufacturers offer standard models of service, utility, platform, gooseneck, dump bodies and more to choose from.


Pros

In many cases, standard bodies are in-stock and readily available. If stock isn’t available, the lead time to build the standard body is much shorter in comparison to a custom body. If you are in dire need of a truck body, you will be able to obtain a standard body much quicker.

Cost is an important factor when spec’ing a new truck body. The difference in price between a standard and custom body can be monumental. The higher the cost, the longer it will take to get your return on investment. Standard bodies are typically much more cost-effective. The standardization of production with standard models translates into lower acquisition costs. If your next truck body purchase is heavily dependent upon the financials, the standard body is your better option.


Cons

Picking the right size of body can be as important as choosing the right type of body. The body length, width and height needs to be right to hold or haul the tools, equipment and parts for your job. Standard bodies offer a finite selection of different sizes. They are pre-engineered and thus your choice of standard truck bodies is limited by the manufacturers catalog size.

Similar to body size, available options are limited to the pre-configured catalog. Very few manufacturers offer a comprehensive selection of catalog options to choose from that appeal to multiple vocations and applications. Your selection of options will be confined to the capabilities and product portfolio offered by that particular truck body manufacturer.


Custom

Custom bodies can be seen all over the roadways today. The idea of customization isn’t new and provides more benefit as the truck body is built to the exact jobsite requirements of the operator.


Pros

Custom truck bodies offer unlimited combinations of different configurations and sizes. Pest control, railroad, telecommunications and utilities are just a few of the vocations that employ overwhelming numbers of custom truck bodies. Highly specialized technicians commonly require customized truck bodies that fit their specific application. Your truck body is your workshop on wheels, so building it to fit exactly what you do and how you work will provide productivity and safety benefits.

With custom bodies come custom options and as long as those options you dream up are in compliance with federal vehicle regulations, the sky is the limit. From highly customized bumpers to material racks to lighting, custom options can add even more value to that custom body. Similar to the custom body, custom options can be tailored to your specific application.


Cons

The farther away from standard, the longer it will take to build. As truck body manufacturers have strived to mirror the Ford assembly line approach for standard products, custom bodies have historically been manufactured in a bay instead of a line. More progressive manufacturing techniques have allowed many truck body makers to decrease the build time for custom bodies. However, there is still a substantial difference between standard body and custom body lead times.

The more specialized the product, the higher the cost. This rings true with nearly any product and truck bodies are no exception. Since the parts are not produced in mass quantities and the body will require additional labor to manufacture, the cost will reflect this. Customize your next body far away from a standard model and prepare to pay a substantial premium.

You may run your work truck into the ground in order to extend the life cycle or you may focus on a limited life cycle in attempt to maximize your resale value. Regardless of how long you keep your service trucks, the more customized your vehicle to your application the smaller the resale market will be.


Summary

If you’re in immediate need of a truck body or you have a limited budget to work with, standard truck bodies will be your best choice. Keep in mind your choices of body sizes, configurations, and available options will be limited with the standard approach. Custom bodies enable you to dream up exactly what you want but demand a longer build period and a higher acquisition cost. For your next truck body purchase, work with a manufacturer that offers a large catalog of standard body sizes and options. Knapheide offers the most comprehensive selection of standard bodies and options for service, utility, and platform bodies.


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