EDITOR’S NOTE: RISE Award winners will be highlighted in the March/April edition of RVBusiness magazine and featured in a special episode of “Rollin’ On TV” that will air concurrent with the RVB issue.
In addition to eight other finalists, an advanced display and control system by Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. and a product improving towing safety by CURT Manufacturing are the top winners in the 2nd Annual RISE (Recognizing Innovation & Supplier Excellence) Awards, which are designed to honor the best and most innovative new products marketed by RV industry component suppliers for the 2020 model year.
Also, in an unexpected move, Integrated Dealer Systems (IDS) received special recognition for its development of a RECT (Repair Event Cycle Time) component into its dealer management software (DMS).
In a program facilitated by RVBusiness, two independent panels of judges selected four finalists and one overall winner in two categories — OEM and aftermarket — based on innovation, functionality, customer acceptance, competitive impact, performance measures and other criteria. Suppliers were free to enter products that had been brought to market in 2019. Older products with a significant demonstrable innovation implemented last year also were eligible.
The overall winner in the OEM category, Freightliner’s DriveTech was first introduced at the RVX show last March and, company officials noted in their entry, it is the “most advanced display and control system in the RV industry.” DriveTech is the first RV driving system to prioritize safety by putting every command in one easy-to-reach location, the company said, while the all-new ergonomic steering wheel and column-mounted controls are paired with OptiView’s all-digital gauge display to create a more automotive-like feel.
While noting DriveTech’s advanced key fob that includes two buttons for OEM-programmable actions, one judge noted that DriveTech is a “much-needed upgrade to catch up to the interiors found in today’s cars and trucks.”
The four finalists in the OEM category include:
• The Elite Series Range by Suburban Manufacturing Co.: A new line featuring modern aesthetics and robust customization, with a staggering 36,864 possible range combinations.
• Volta Power System by Volta Power Systems: Found on the Winnebago Boldt and Travato GL/KL, the Volta Power System creates an off-grid power and environmentally responsible experience that eliminates the need for a generator.
• PD4500 All-In-One Power Converter Series by Progressive Dynamics Inc.: The PD4500 Series features AC/DC distribution panel, built-in Charge Wizard, genuine Wago quick-flip connectors and, thanks to an innovative switch mechanism, is compatible with either lithium or lead acid batteries.
• Cordless one-inch Pleated Shade by United Shade: The tried-and-true one-inch pleated night shade is now cordless, which is not only more convenient but, more importantly, is safer as it eliminates the potential hazards of cords that have been addressed by numerous residential and commercial laws.
The BetterWeigh Mobile Towing Scale by CURT Manufacturing, which recently became a subsidiary of Lippert Components Inc., was the overall RISE Award winner in the aftermarket category. A Bluetooth-enabled, smartphone-compatible mobile towing scale, BetterWeigh is an innovative, compact device that plugs into a tow vehicle’s diagnostic port (OBD-II) and measures the real-time weight of the vehicle and trailer, cargo/payload, tongue weight, pin weight, weight distribution and trailer brake gain. The patented BetterWeigh mobile towing scale also won the Best New Product Award at the 2019 SEMA Show in Las Vegas in the Exterior Accessories category, and the 2020 Global Media Award.
“This is an excellent product that takes trailer towing safety to the next level,” said one judge. “To me, this is a big deal in the RV marketplace, and from a competitive viewpoint it will only make other RV companies strive to make towing a trailer safer and easier for the consumer, which is a win-win for everybody.”
The four finalists in the aftermarket category include:
• Furrion 32-inch Sense All-in-One Entertainment System – Featuring a built-in soundbar and built-in, two-zone stereo, the entertainment system withstands extreme climates and vibration thanks to Vibrationsmart and Climatesmart technologies.
• Power Watchdog Surge Protector by Hughes Autoformers – Available in portable and hardwired 30- and 50-amp models, the next generation of the Power Watchdog Surge Protector combines its patent-pending Bluetooth functionality with Emergency Power Off (EPO) protection.
• CombiMaster Inverter/Charger by Mastervolt – The “most compact, lightweight inverter/charger on the market today,” according to company officials, the CombiMaster combines delivers pure sine wave inverter power and multichemistry battery charging plus the ability to integrate into a comprehensive power conversion system.
• SureShade ATF Automated RV Shade by Lippert Components Inc. – Introduced to the RV industry at the RVX show, the SureShade features Sunbrella marine fabrics for optimal outdoor performance, no vertical support poles to disrupt head clearance and patented cambered roller and cross-bar components for aesthetics and rain run-off.
Judges singled out for special mention IDS, as the company has taken the lead to develop a RECT reporting function into its DMS. Reducing the Repair Event Cycle Time is a crucial issue for the industry, they said, and the potential impact of measuring such data cannot be overestimated.
More than 180 dealers are allowing IDS access to their repair order data; in turn IDS is providing them with monthly reports about their RECT performance, which helps dealers pinpoint their biggest bottlenecks and provide them with a clear path toward improvements.
Another advantage of IDS’ RECT data is that it allows RV dealers to anonymously compare their service department data to that of other dealers across North America — almost 20,000 work orders are analyzed each month in that regard. This, in turn, enables them to see where they stand in relation to their industry partners and understand the impact of key bottlenecks, such as parts availability and warranty coverage, on their repair time.
IDS worked closely with RVDA and RVIA to develop the RECT standards, and IDS General Manager Sean Raynor was the recipient of the RVDA Chairman’s Service Award for his work on RECT.