In the custom-design world, visuals are everything. Hearing how an upfitted truck will look is a far cry from seeing one with added shelving, partitions, storage bins, cabinets, drawers, and/or ladder racks. But if the van’s not customized yet, and there’s not an artist in the room, how is it possible to see the finished—or at least a graphic depiction of the finished—product? That’s where configurators, including the new 3D Configurator by Ranger Design, come in.
A prototype of the Ranger Design Configurator is available on the company website, and is programmed to show add-on options for Ford Transit and Ford Transit Connect commercial vans, and what those add-ons look like in place. The company plans to have the program beyond the prototype stage in early 2018, and also plans to add an array of truck makes and models to the customizable selection.
“These two (initial) models represent a major part of the market (in terms of vehicles sold and upfitting),” says Yves Léveillé, marketing director at Ranger Design. “We thought it would be best to do our prototype on these vehicles, as we would gather sufficient data and feedback with them.”
When users sign onto Ranger Design’s website and click through to the Configurator, they first select the Transit model they want to customize, and options such as wheelbase length and roof height. Next, users select a trade they are upfitting for and the product they are considering installing, including “Electrician Van Shelving,” “HVAC Van Shelving,” “Mobile Service Van Shelving,” “Delivery Van Shelving,” and “Contractor Van Shelving.” Or, they can opt to start the process with a blank van interior. From that point, depending on the trade selected, there are additional add-on options such as cabinets, drawers, and roof ladder racks, some with a selection of materials they are manufactured of, and the included warranties.
A depiction of the van’s interior layout, separated into numbered zones, then appears on the screen, allowing users to select what will fit, and be most useful, in each zone. A graphic of each item can be added, deleted, or swapped out, until customization is complete. Then the user can revolve and twist the digital image to see it from various angles.
“What differentiates the user experience of Ranger Design’s Configurator, from that of other configurators in the automotive industry, is that it configures in 3D, in real time, providing a full view from all angles—not just limited to a few perspectives,” Léveillé says. “Other configurators on the market use pre-rendered images that are superimposed at fixed angles.”
Ranger recruited Vortex Solution to create the software application. Vortex is a website-design and digital-strategy company based in Québec, Canada. The platform uses native 3D web technology, which reduces load time and offers the best performance on many browsers. It also allows users to access the Configurator without having to install plug-ins.
WORKING IT OUT
While users might notice the program needs some tweaking, Léveillé says the response so far indicates it is already a hit.
“The response has been very positive,” he says. “We’ve received many high-value quote requests. More importantly, our end users report that they are enjoying the experience. Obviously, there are a few glitches and improvements that need to be reviewed. These will be taken into consideration in the next phase.”
Andrew Burrowes is lead inside sales representative at Transform Van & Trucking, a Canadian light commercial vehicle outfitter serving commercial- and municipal-fleet clients.
His firm transforms vans, pickups, cube vans, enclosed trailers, and SUVs into work platforms for a variety of industries. He says the Configurator has already become an important sales tool for his team.
“It’s great to add it to our sales process toolbox,” Burrowes says. “I can send a link to clients who are still waiting on factory orders or maybe just at the tire-kicking stage, trying to choose between the many different van models on the market. Or clients who are further afield geographically, and/or cannot conveniently meet face to face, but still need something more visually interactive than a phone conversation in the sales process.”
He anticipates sharp upswings in the Configurator’s popularity once the current platform is finalized early next year, and also when more truck makes and models are added to the program.
“I believe it will see a real spike in usage by upfitters and end users alike, when it transitions from limited prototype to a comprehensive platform, covering Ranger’s full product offering and the other van models on the market,” Burrowes says. “It takes away the guesswork and uncertainty.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Ranger Design manufactures specialized shelving, racking, partitions, storage systems, and ladder racks for commercial vehicles. The company has a network of more than 300 distributors across North America. Find out more about the Ranger Design Configurator, visit www.rangerdesign.com.