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Ford Shows Intelligent Upfit Technology at Work Truck Show

March 09, 2018

Photo Super Duty pickup courtesy of Ford.
Photo Super Duty pickup courtesy of Ford.

Ford will be showing how upfits can become “smarter” at this year’s NTEA Work Truck Show.

Originally released with the 2017 Ford Super Duty, now available on the 2018 Super Duty, and slated for the 2019 model year, Ford will be demonstrating the capabilities of its programmable upfitter interface module at its booth at the NTEA Work Truck Show.

“We’re going to be showing off the functionality of our module," said Kevin Koester, Ford's medium duty and F-Series fleet marketing manager. "You’re going to be able to see a demonstration of how if a certain condition is not met, then the truck [with the module installed] will react in a certain way,” 

In a traditional upfit, an upfitter cuts into a vehicle’s wiring in order to install their hardware, Koester noted. Ford’s module is designed to not interrupt the wiring or hardware that is installed in the vehicle, he added.  

“What that module allows an upfitter to do, in a repeated manner, is install their upfits in essentially a plug-in, play mechanism, in terms of wiring,” said Koester.

Ford’s module is an optional factory installed device available exclusively on Super Duty trucks for fleet customers. Through a Ford-provided program computer program, upfitters can modify and input their code for programming to deliver a smart upfit for their customers.

Ford’s module differs from other aftermarket upfitter modules in the fact that it is warranted by Ford and will not interrupt a vehicle’s Computer Area Network data.

Koester shared two scenarios where the module would intelligently adapt itself to a vehicle’s operation: with a salt spreader plow and a bucket truck.

In the salt spreader plow scenario, a driver is driving down the road in his or her truck, spreading salt. That driver is driving at a consistent 45 mph until he or she reaches a stop light. In a truck without Ford’s module, the truck would continue dumping salt at the same rate unless the driver manually changed the rate. With the module installed, as the vehicle slows down, the vehicle would begin to slightly tilt the bucket holding the salt down, and slow the speed of the spinners in the salt spreader.

In the bucket truck scenario, an operator is about to go into the bucket. With Ford’s module installed in that vehicle, an upfitter could program the module to not allow the bucket to move without the downriggers deployed.

The module "has the potential to require actual vehicle users to be interact with a vehicle in a certain way, only if certain conditions are met,” said Koester.

The module was first available on the 2017 Ford Super Duty. The module is also available on the 2018 Super Duty, as will be available on the 2019 model year. Reception of the module from fleets has been positive, the module has been doing well, and upfitters have been showing a lot of interest in it, Koester added.

While Ford is always looking for opportunities to expand its offerings, the plan is for the module to remain exclusive with the Super Duty series, for the time being.

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