THE National Association of Trailer Manufacturers supplemented its slate of convention speakers with two key announcements: the creation of an engineering committee and the possibility of making its trailer compliance program mandatory.
The formation of the engineering committee is intended to help NATM address engineering issues. The association announced its intentions at a special meeting of engineers held just before the official start of the convention.
The association has been addressing engineering concerns through its technical committee, an organization populated with NATM board members — many of whom have come up through the sales and marketing side of their companies. The new committee, open to all industry-related engineers, is expected to strengthen the association's engineering efforts.
“Our technical committee tends to address regulatory matters, but a lot of regulations involve engineering input,” said Michael Terry, NATM president. “We need to bring our engineering talent together. We are forming a committee where supplier and trailer manufacturer engineers can work together to address issues that the industry has in common.”
The committee will operate as a subcommittee of the NATM Technical Committee. Plans call for it to work on one to three projects annually. Potential topics include paint performance, electric and hydraulic brake performance criteria, underride and lighting regulations, coupler and safety chains, and tow vehicle trailer rating.
The intent is not to set specifications for trailers, but the group is expected to generate recommended practices for light- and medium-duty trailers. The standards, however, are not to be so specific that they eliminate some manufacturer's products from the marketplace, Terry said.
“We aren't here to affect competition,” Terry said. “But where we can find common ground, we want to make this a better industry.”
Meanwhile, the convention provided NATM with the opportunity to survey its members on the idea of making its compliance program mandatory for membership in the association. The program, currently optional, sets minimum standards for trailer manufacturers — including having processes in place for meeting applicable safety regulations. Based on the responses of those attending the convention, NATM will put the issue to a vote of its members later this year.