“OLD-SCHOOL” BUT STILL OPEN TO HIGH-TECH IDEAS
We often forget how much technology has affected the work truck industry. Like the story of the bullfrog placed in a pot of water that is gradually heated to boiling, but who doesn’t notice the gradual increase in water temperature (until he boils to death), we don’t notice a change until long after it has occured. The current microchip shortage has certainly underscored this fact. The dependence on technology has permeated the design, production, and operational use of trucks and truck bodies.
In addition to the microchips used by engines to manage many aspects of motor and electrical system performance, newer technologies are implemented in back-up video cameras, keyless entry and ignition, as well as driver-assisted safety features and next generation 4G wifi, and much more.
Design and Production
When it comes to the Design and Production of work truck bodies, evolving technologies have changed many processes. At Scelzi Enterprises — a company that cherishes its’ “old-school workmanship” roots and “we cut no quality corners” mindset — the transition to using the latest and greatest technology does not come easily. Despite utilizing one of the industry’s first robotic welders, and using CAD for many years as well (first AutoCAD and now SolidWorks), embracing other “high tech” production techniques has been very deliberate.
“We have tried-and-true Production methods,” states Mike Scelzi, “that brought us to where we are today. While we are always looking at better ways to do things, we are probably less likely to jump on some new bandwagon than others in our industry.”
But as the dependability of a new technology proves itself, it is implemented on the Production Floor. “We were very careful when we bought our first programmable Amada punch press many years ago,” Scelzi recalls, “ and we ran so many sample punching runs that our crew was getting frustrated with all the practice. We were just not going to rush into using a new tool until we had run it thoroughly through its paces.” But when the Scelzi veterans on the Brake and Shear line became more confident with the laser, they told senior management “let’s stop the practice runs and roll this into production.”
The results have been astounding. Scelzi credits his Production team with their pride in workmanship and the fact many love what they do and take great pride in the high quality results of their efforts. Since those first baby steps with concerns about IF the new equipment was worth the investment, many more Amada presses and more advanced laser cutters have been added to various production lines. The technology has reduced Scelzi’s dependence on suppliers for many precision-tooled parts they now make for themselves – with a far faster turnaround.
The same evaluation methods are used when evaluating other high-tech implementations. That includes the use of bar coding and QR codes to manage inventory, and smartphones and pad devices to track time spent on jobs and the flow of materials through production.
Distribution, Sales and Marketing
Perhaps the greatest changes caused by evolving technology have been on the sales and distribution side of the business, including logistics. Utilizing satellite imaging and telemetry to track delivery of chassis cabs for pool use, as well as final delivery to dealerships, has increased efficiency in those areas. Aerial photography using drones have been used for both logistics, training, and promotional purposes. And webcam, and other videoconferencing methods, have improved communications among departments when members of a team cannot meet at one place at a given time.
OLD-School But Open To NEW Ideas
For Scelzi Enterprises, change has not always come easily. Staying open-minded to new ideas and technologies without jumping in too quickly to embrace something yet unproven is a never-ending balance for the team. “If you try too hard to stay on the cutting edge of some new technology,” adds Gary Scelzi, “sometimes all you gain is a bunch of cuts. We have to be smart about adopting new methods. We try to never forget what got us to where we are today, and that is our customers and dealers who can count on the Scelzi name to mean premium quality truck bodies and support.”
For more information, contact Scelzi Enterprises or visit www.seinc.com