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Flatbeds to Pace Trailer Market in 2018

A stronger and faster comeback for flatbed trailers, along with increases in other trailer segments, offers more business opportunities for commercial vehicle trailer manufacturers, along with fabricators that supply parts and assemblies to the heavy-haul trucking industry.

Posted: December 17, 2017

Heavy-duty lightweight trailers at Utility Trailer Sales of Utah in Salt Lake City, UT. As North American Class 8 truck production reaches 300,000 units in 2018, flatbeds are making a stronger and faster comeback than expected based on demand by dealers. (Photo courtesy Utility Trailer Sales of Utah)

As North American Class 8 truck production reaches 300,000 units in 2018, commercial vehicle trailer production will see a modest increase, paced by an improving flatbed market, while dry van production should remain even at 178,000 units in 2018, according to Don Ake, the vice president of commercial vehicles at FTR (Bloomington, IN).1 In contrast to the dry van market’s consistency over the past several years, Ake forecasts 2018 refrigerated van production to slip to 42,400 trailers. However, flatbeds are making a “stronger and faster comeback” than expected based on economy-driven demand. “Dealers are back in the game,” said Ake said. “They’re ordering trailers, stocking trailers, selling trailers. They’re positive for the first time in a couple of years.” He expects a 5 percent jump in 2018, to 23,200 flatbed units. He also anticipates a recovery in dump trailers (up 5 percent) and liquid tank trailers (up 16 percent), based on improvement in the energy and chemical sectors.1


  1. “FTR Forecast: Flatbeds to Pace Trailer Market in 2018,” Kevin Jones, Trailer/Body Builders, September 15, 2017. Retrieved from

Commercial vehicle trailer manufacturers see these trends as big opportunities to grow their business, along with fabricators that supply parts and assemblies to the heavy-haul trucking industry. To help these shops stay competitive in their welding operations for trailers and other assemblies, here is some of the latest welding equipment, filler metals and accessories, PPE and more that can help shops increase their welding productivity, improve process quality and safety, and reduce their overall process costs:

Automated Seam Welding of Trailer Tanks and More
Ideal for trailer tank fabricators, Jetline LWI Internal Longitudinal Seam Welders from Miller Electric weld flat sheets or tanks with diameters larger than 55 in and lengths up to 300 in.

Systems for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Industrial Welding
Aristo industrial welding systems from ESAB combine new and improved components in 21 ready-to-weld packages that increase quality and lower the cost of operation in welding aluminum, stainless and carbon steel.

Metal-Cored Wire Reduces Time Spent on Non-Value-Added Tasks
FabCOR Edge metal-cored wire from Hobart is ideal for robotic and mechanized welding, heavy equipment manufacturing, agriculture, transportation and mining applications, and for welding non-alloyed and fine grain steels.

Fully Automatic Multi-Gun Resistance Welder
This multi-gun resistance welding cell from Taylor-Winfield joins and assembles multiple components in one operation and can complete 20 different spot welds within five seconds, with minimum operator interaction.

Laser Welding that Forgives Imperfections
FusionLine technology in the new TruLaser Weld 5000 laser welding cell from TRUMPF overcomes part imperfections when welding by closing gaps up to 0.04 in wide, with welding seam results and process times that significantly outperform conventional welding techniques.

Laser Welding Lines for Powertrain Components
Based on their standard laser welding modules, Coldwater Machine Company customizes each system to suit specific application requirements.

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