The North American trailer industry

Over the next five years, the commercial trailer market is set to experience robust growth and change in North America.

The significant impact on the trucking industry from the dramatic increase of diesel prices, operational costs and stringent government regulation has substantially amplified the interest and proliferation of trailer technologies.

No longer considered an afterthought of the trucking industry, trailer technologies such as aerodynamics, telematics, the use of enhanced body materials and part components has brought the trailer up to speed.

Aerodynamics

The trailer aerodynamics market may have just achieved its breakthrough moment towards industry-wide adoption, thanks to the recently mandated California Air Resources Board (CARB) regulation. In order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the fuel efficiency of 53’ box-type trailers, CARB now requires that these trailers be fitted with trailer aerodynamics and low rolling resistance tires.

Trailers entering California are required to use EPA SmartWay-certified trailers or technologies, such as the use of side skirts, gap fairings, trailer tails or rear fairings, and must achieve a 4 or 5 percent improvement in fuel consumption.

This regulation is significant in its influence across North America as fleets must now re-evaluate their daily operations and consideration in using trailer aerodynamics.

At the heart of the trucking industry is the need to effectively and efficiently transport freight across North America. Freight being shipped in trailers is under constant risk of being late for delivery, lost, stolen or damaged. This has resulted in a market for telematics systems which allow for transport chain transparency, with frequent functional data available to the driver, freight company and customers.

Telematics help increase the efficiency of truck logistics and operations, and provide the ability to respond quickly to problematic issues.

CSA

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program is a major cause for concern among OEMs and fleets in operation. It enables FMCSA to assess the safety performance of fleets to ensure the health of the equipment in use.

Fleets are being put under the microscope as failure to meet CSA requirements will lead to harsh consequences, and even to a cessation of fleet operations.

In order to comply with CSA’s strict standards, fleets are demanding innovative technology and design improvements on all new trailers.

Conclusion

The growing interest for advanced trailer technologies for greater productivity and reduced maintenance has established the changing landscape of the trucking industry. The proliferation of new trailer technologies will have a direct impact on the service and maintenance of trailers as these technologies have effectively extended the life of a trailer to 15 years.

The new trailer technologies will require maintenance laborers to adapt and learn new repair procedures. Plus, vertical integration of producing package components, such as an entire axle module with matching brakes and suspension, is expected to be a permanent trend.

Sandeep Kar is the global director of commercial vehicle research for Frost & Sullivan’s Automotive & Transportation business. Among his areas of expertise are global commercial vehicle markets and technologies, including powertrain, chassis, safety, telematics and regulation compliance technologies. Frost & Sullivan provides in-depth research and best-practice models to drive the generation, evaluation and implementation of powerful growth strategies for a broad range of industries. www.frost.com.

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