without being excessively restrictive to vendors Don’t rely on the past Some fleet managers stick with what worked previously and won’t go beyond manufacturer changes from model year to model year. While this might sound like a concrete idea, it can become a slippery slope and result in outdated and inefficient operations. Take a step back and consider your current equipment functionality. Is the equipment that’s being replaced the most efficient for the task? Have job re- quirements shifted over time? Change can bring opportunities to increase ef- ficiency, so it’s important to overcome the mindset of replacing equipment with comparable items. Beginning the process Several steps are necessary for writing effective specifications — starting with defining the application. Don’t make decisions based on what everyone else is doing or assume past needs equal current. Look at operating environ- ment and drive and duty cycles, and identify valid functional requirements, such as payload and dimensional con- siderations. Define performance con- ditions like road speed and gradability, and outline design constraints such as operating environments, overall weight, vehicle dimensions and other regulatory barriers. It is critical to design second units such as body and auxiliary equipment before the chassis. Avoid the pitfall of buying a chassis and making it work. Once all of the details are finalized, then design the chassis and write the specification. Key resources Fleet managers are often expected to be subject matter experts in various ar- eas. With constant changes in available alternatives and regulatory require- ments, taking advantage of resources will help optimize equipment and chassis designs. Truck equipment man- ufacturers, distributors, upfitters and OEM representatives can be excellent sources when designing and spec’ing. NTEA offers data and resources to help fleet managers optimize their opera- tions and benchmark with others in the vocational community. Visit ntea. com/fleetresources for articles, training offerings, regulatory information, and more.