This truck manufacturer uses Oracle Configure, Price, Quote to help buyers sort through thousands of product and safety options.
By Linda Currey Post | September 2020
McNeilus Truck and Manufacturing, a maker of refuse collection trucks, focuses much innovation on making a job that never takes a break safer for workers—and the people who share the road with them.
When the pandemic started, US trash collectors “didn’t miss a beat,” says Jeff Koga, vice president and general manager of the McNeilus refuse collection unit. “When everyone else was holding down at home, they were out there on the front lines, courageously picking up the trash. We’re proud to back them.” Most people realize how important the work of these “waste warriors” is for keeping neighborhoods clean and healthy. But many don’t know how dangerous the job of collecting refuse can be.
The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics rates refuse collection fifth on its latest list of most dangerous professions, based on 44.3 fatal incidents per 100,000 workers per year. Wide trucks traveling narrow roadways raise the risks of collisions with other vehicles, as well as pedestrians and cyclists.
“We needed a better, stronger, more powerful tool, to be able to configure the product and price it more consistently and get a faster quote turnaround to our customers.”
Technology lets a driver use a joystick to control an automated arm that hoists a trash receptacle weighing up to 10,000 pounds. McNeilus trucks can load from the front, rear, or side. Operator aids include radar-based sensors that detect motion around the truck—sensors that work even when crusted with ice, battered by rain, or scorched by desert heat. Cameras let drivers know when it is safe to back up or make tight turns. The sensors and cameras connect with McNeilus CODE Controls, an onboard computer system that drivers can access in the cab. While making the trucks safer, McNeilus also has made the trucks quieter, while reducing environmental impact, by pioneering compressed natural gas as a fuel option.
For someone who buys refuse trucks, all this work to make collection safer and cleaner has meant one thing: a potentially mind-boggling number of options, with more than 12,000 features to choose from on one vehicle. Turns out, though, McNeilus has innovated that selection challenge, too.
In 1917, Oshkosh Corporation, the parent company of McNeilus Truck and Manufacturing, patented the four-wheel-drive system and began making equipment to clear snow off runways for World War I bombers. Today, Oshkosh and its subsidiaries build vehicles for the toughest jobs, from mine-resistant military vehicles to airport firefighting trucks. Oshkosh holds more than 850 patents for truck innovations.
McNeilus builds its refuse collection trucks in its Minnesota factory. To help customers sort through all the available features, the McNeilus sales team needed a better tool to configure, price, and prepare quotes for customers. First, the company streamlined the number of options, focusing on the features that offer the most value to customers. Then McNeilus began to evaluate its tools.
“We needed a better, stronger, more powerful tool, to be able to configure the product and price it more consistently and get a faster quote turnaround to our customers,” Koga says. “As we looked at the universe of configure, price, and quote products, it was pretty clear to us that Oracle was the leader. And, as an industry leader ourselves, we like to partner with other industry leaders. So we implemented the Oracle CPQ tool, and it’s done nothing but produce for us since.”
In the process of evaluating the performance of the cloud-based Oracle CPQ tool, McNeilus ran benchmark tests comparing time saved configuring and quoting prices for identically equipped new refuse trucks using Oracle CPQ versus using previous processes. McNeilus reports that the Oracle tool slashed by 87.5% the time it takes for the sales and support team to configure and price a new truck, Koga says. “The time saved allows the salesperson or account representative to focus less on the quoting process and more on what the customer really needs,” he says. “The sales process is much simpler.”
Refuse collection is the fifth most-dangerous profession in the US.
The McNeilus sales team can now act as consultants to customers, exploring their needs. Will they use the truck to pick up trash from residences, businesses, or manufacturing sites? What is the area’s geography—flat, mountainous, coastal? How wide are the streets along the route and how well are they maintained? What is the traffic like? With that insight, they use the Oracle tool to add the right features and calculate the price.
Oracle CPQ also integrates with the existing JD Edwards ERP system, works well on mobile devices, and scales effectively, Koga says. And it automates the parts-ordering process so that the right parts are available when it’s time to build the custom truck. The CPQ tool operates with built-in “rules” that Koga says are easy to use and to change when necessary.
“Oracle CPQ greatly improves the accuracy of our build process, so we can spend more time integrating the technologies that make the important job our customers do easier and our communities safer,” Koga says.
Photography: McNeilus and ABC Fine Wine and Spirits