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Navistar responds to customers with flexibility through innovative custom engineering group

Published on 5 May 2009

Navistar have created a Custom Engineering group to better respond to the needs of their customers
Navistar's Custom Engineering group enables them to be more responsive to customer needs
Company's specialized product development unit takes on unique customer request

Navistar is taking customer responsiveness to a new level, recently launching its Custom Engineering group to make modifications and add unique features to many of its heavy and severe service trucks.

Navistar's Custom Engineering group takes a close look at an assortment of customer requests, with each project receiving a timely, thorough analysis. The cross-functional team develops a solid business case that examines the costs and resources required to meet the customer's needs.

"Every change to our trucks comes at a cost," explains Tom Smith, Navistar's director of Custom Engineering. "However, by taking a strategic approach to meeting unique requests, closely analyzing potential modifications and providing the appropriate engineering assistance, we can deliver a higher level of support for our customers."

Navistar continues to be focused on gaining the insight of its customers. During the last several years, Navistar's design engineers have conducted hundreds of interviews and focus groups with drivers, service technicians and fleet managers. That feedback has helped shape some of the most innovative products to hit the market. From the aerodynamic and fuel-efficient International® ProStar® to the groundbreaking design and comfort of the International LoneStar®, customer input has helped refine a broad range of features that deliver improved driver comfort and satisfaction, simplified and efficient maintenance, best-in-class fuel economy and low operational costs.

In addition, that same level of flexibility and customer responsiveness has been a major driver for Navistar's success building MRAP (mine-resistant ambush-protected) vehicles for the U.S. military. The International MaxxPro® MRAP, a vehicle optimized for performance and survivability, had six variants developed, each with significant armoring design changes, in only 18 months. With a strong and dependable foundation, the MRAP design changes and modifications were developed based on emerging threats and changing conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Our quick and nimble approach to our military business has served as a great model to apply to other areas of our company," said Jim Hebe, Navistar senior vice president, North American sales operations. "Another chapter in that story is our Custom Engineering Group. We have a highly motivated organization made up of manufacturing, purchasing, engineering, sales and others focused on customer requests that fall outside of our normal product development processes. We're able to take on these projects quickly and effectively, making us responsive to our customers and easy to do business with."

During the last several months, Navistar's Custom Engineering Group has helped develop several truck options and enhancements, such as air disc brakes, adaptive cruise control systems, electronics, controls, and interior cabinetry, as well as other customer- and vocational-specific options.

Following design and engineering work from the Custom Engineering Group, changes and modifications are performed on-line at Navistar's assembly plants or off-line at the company's nearby TSCs (truck specialty centers).

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