BOB Aquaro was in Room B310 at the Georgia World Congress Center during the first day of this year's Work Truck Show.
Dick Toner and Louis Kleinstiver had just concluded their session, “Simplifying Vehicle Weight Distribution Calculations,” and Aquaro was preparing to participate in Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America Inc's chassis update. Aquaro noticed that many people who had attended the previous session were remaining in the room for his.
Aquaro had never before demonstrated Mitsubishi's TruSpec weight-distribution program. But it occurred to him that he had it loaded in his laptop and that this might be the time.
“I told them, ‘Maybe you guys would like to see what we do,’” he says. “They did, and we showed it to them. I think it generated a lot of interest. I don't think most of them had any idea we had anything like this.”
TruSpec originally was developed in 1995 by Mitsubishi through Truck Marketing Systems in San Diego. The idea was to create a truck spec'ing module for Mitsubishi's dealers to help them assemble the correct truck for the customer.
“We thought it would be valuable because if you could properly train dealers to use this and you built in defaults like a warning system, then the dealer would be able to produce a very spontaneous result,” Aquaro says. “He wouldn't have to call here and get someone on the phone. We wanted the dealers to have that power — and have it immediately. We thought that if we could develop a program that would make a dealer independent, then it would be an asset.
“This gives the dealer a way of spec'ing the truck more quickly for the customer, instead of saying, ‘I'll get back to you tomorrow.’ And for the body companies, it also produces a safety net. If there's something questionable or marginal about the application or they're not sure what to do, they get a piece of paper from us showing the truck and calculated weights with instructions.”
Gain in popularity
Over the years, it has become much more popular and valuable than Mitsubishi ever envisioned, largely because of the proliferation of laptops. A dealer can install the program in his laptop and go out and call on customers.
Once a customer has been inputted into the program, the dealer picks a truck, transmission, wheelbase, and other information. Liftgates, rail gates, or tuckaways can be added, along with toggle boxes, if the dealer is producing a dump body with a tool box behind. On certain models, such as the 4-wheel-drive FG, snowplows can be entered.
The program then will produce a weight distribution and an illustration of what the truck will look like when it's finished.
If that application is incorrect, it will print a caution on the screen: YOUR FRONT AXLE WEIGHT IS TOO LOW or YOU'RE IN EXCESS OF GVW or YOUR FRONT AXLE WEIGHT IS OVERLOADED. The caution will include a warning — THIS APPLICATION DOES NOT MEET MITSUBISHI'S GUIDELINES AND MUST BE REVIEWED — and provide telephone numbers to call or fax, or an e-mail address.
Mitsubishi's Production Applications Group will review the plan and offer suggestions. Once the figures have been recalculated, the red flag will be removed and the dealer will receive a new spec sheet with a signature of approval.
“We wanted it to be graphically scaled correctly, so a customer sees what he's going to get,” Aquaro says. “It's evolved since then. It will show the liftgate deployed and a load on the liftgate to show you what is happening to the truck statically. From a weight-distribution standpoint, it calculates up to 12 different point loads. It does water level loads, water level with a predetermined weight, a best load, so that if you're loading a truck in a certain specific place, it shows where you would maximize the payload capacity.
“It's evolved even further, so that we put in a database of truck specifications. We've got a whole data book, pricing, financing, and pre-selectable cover letters.”
Aquaro says the next step is to develop a similar program for bodybuilders.
“I think that's coming,” he says. “We've got some good ideas of what we want to do and what we can do. It's just a matter of implementing them.”