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Trailer orders in the United States in September hit the third highest level this year, reaching 28,000. But that was far from volumes of a year ago, according to ACT Research.

ACT said net orders were 28,127. A year earlier, net orders were 51,208.

September was a smooth opening of the orders board, according to industry analysts.

Companies have held back while waiting for more supply chain clarity that has fostered a new business model for managing uncertainty, Frank Maly, director of commercial vehicle transportation analysis at ACT, told Transport Topics.

“I’m going to switch modes,” Maly said. “Ever been near a train leaving a dead stop?” Bang, bang, bang; all the cars are bumping into each other. Nothing is smooth at this point. This is kind of where we are.

Maly

Maly said he heard of a trailer maker creating an hourly bonus if workers show up for a full work week – to ensure the manufacturer has a consistent level of staff.

“And even with that, they have issues with people showing up for five days in a row,” Maly said, and noted that the blanket shutdown during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic may have caused people to ask themselves what is really important to them and how much money they really have. need.

Maly also said production increased significantly in September as some “red tag” trailers – which were underway due to unavailable parts – were finally completed. “Everyone says they have trailers on the sidelines waiting to be completed.”

Researcher FTR put net orders at 28,300.

“This is a very misleading number in September. It’s skewed by several large fleets of dry vans placing large orders, ”said Don Ake, vice president of commercial vehicles at FTR. “If you took them out of the mix, the number would actually be lower than August.”

August orders were 12,366.

Ake said the state of the market means unfulfilled orders are carried over to 2022 from 2021, and there is uncertainty over commodity prices and component costs, making pricing difficult. the cost of a trailer beyond the first quarter.

“We’ve never seen anything like it now. In other years, regardless of the fluctuations, trailer manufacturers had great certainty about [first quarter], “he said.” It’s just unprecedented. “

Hyundai Translead told TT it recently opened quotes and orders for 2022.

“We anticipate that we will be able to fill up quickly for 2022,” said Sean Kenney, sales manager at Hyundai Translead. “It is highly doubtful whether the industry will be able to produce enough equipment to meet the demand for the year.”

He agreed that the supply chain remains highly contested on several fronts.

Road signs

Research shows that 41% of technicians leave the industry within the first two years. Host Michael Freeze asks how can tech recruiters and maintenance managers reduce this percentage? We spoke with Ana Salcido from Navistar and Stacy Earnhardt from TMC. Listen to a sample above and get the full schedule by heading over to RoadSigns.TTNews.com.

Ake said that all aspects of the trailer manufacturing business are affected – marketing, financing and purchasing present challenges they have never faced before.

“I worked for a component supplier and I just can’t imagine the vibe where all the departments in your company have different interests and goals and they all have to try to coordinate and come together in that environment. “said Ake. “It’s difficult.”

Stoughton Trailers continues to pass on price increases and while customers don’t like it, “none of us have left,” said David Giesen, vice president of sales at Stoughton. “In fact, our customers keep asking for more trailers, even though we give them a price increase. “

He said Stoughton didn’t have an “open-ended control board” simply because there was still too much uncertainty over costs, availability and manpower.

At Great Dane, the order board is open for part of the year, said Chris Hammond, executive vice president of sales. “Customer demand continues to exceed the capacity of all trailer manufacturers. “

Chris Hammond, Executive Vice President of Sales

Hammond

He added, “I think employee retention is a concern for anyone doing business in the United States and we are not immune to this situation. “

At the same time, notions of what a basic trailer is and what it should contain are evolving to emphasize the intelligence of the equipment.

This focus on smart trailers is guided by operational improvements, emerging food safety regulations and the advancement of self-driving trucks.

“The pandemic has just slowed down some of the technological transitions. They didn’t stop, ”Ake said. “The pandemic and the supply chain issue right now has just trumped a lot of that. “

Great Dane sees six trends that will define the future of truck and trailer connectivity:

  • Increased use of electronic control units in trailers.
  • Advances in advanced computing [done at or near the source of the data].
  • Autonomous vehicles will control the way connectors are designed.
  • Changes in the physical form of trucks and trailers will determine the needs of the new units.
  • There will be closer collaboration between truck and trailer manufacturers.
  • Improvements in manufacturing and implementation will help advance these new technologies and bring them to market.

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