NATM Gearing Up Engineering Efforts

The National Association of Trailer Manufacturers (NATM) kicked off its 2010 convention in Reno, Nevada, not with a keynote speaker, but with a meeting geared to substantially increase its engineering services.

The meeting, held first thing during the convention’s first day, laid the groundwork to form the association’s first engineering committee.

The association has been addressing engineering concerns through its technical committee, an organization that has been populated with NATM board members. Primarily presidents and marketing executives for their respective companies, they frequently need more engineering representation.

“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.

“We are not out to duplicate what the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association provides, but it’s our goal to be a group that people look to as the experts in our segment of the industry. NATM is establishing itself--NHTSA and others are calling for our input. The engineering committee that we are putting together will help us provide needed expertise.”

The committee is open to all industry-related engineers. It will operate as a subcommittee of the NATM Technical Committee. Plans call for it to work on one to three projects annually on topics such as 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, while at the same time not developing standards that would in effect eliminate some manufacturers’ products from the marketplace.

“We aren’t here to affect competition,” Terry said. “But where we can find common ground, we want to make this a better industry.”

As former NATM president Travis Eby pointed out, the number-one bullet point in the NATM mission statement is to “improve trailer safety and performance.”

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