Universal Trailer Corp. held a ribbon-cutting for its new $25 million-plus, state-of-the-art cargo trailer facility.
Speakers for the event included Universal Trailer CEO and President Terry Carlson, UTC Plant Operations Manager Keith Shockey, UTC Vice President of Marketing Jeff Howes and local and state dignitaries, such as Elaine Bedel, president of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. Carlson explained how the facility, which is located on 43 acres in Bristol, Ind., is two years in the making, as it incorporates automation adapted from the automotive industry to produce lighter and more durable Wells Cargo and Haulmark cargo trailers.
The 200,000-square-foot plant also features a work-friendly environment for its employees, including modern lighting, shop floor break rooms and numerous other amenities.
At the Bristol facility, Universal Trailer is using a modular production approach to create trailer kits, which will be shipped to its other facilities around the country to be finished and customized.
“The modular production process enables us to continue to scale to meet global market demands, producing twice as many Haulmark and Wells Cargo trailers per week vs. the traditional production methods used, all the while keeping our quality high,” Carlson said.
Other trailer innovations include: proprietary construction material; intelligent robotic welding for square and true frames; HSLA (high-strength, low-alloy) roll formed steel; double-flanged cross members to minimize road vibrations; frames dripped in paint providing advanced anti-corrosion protection; and automotive fastener technology for perfectly aligned trailer chassis, walls and roof.
To verify these new materials, production techniques and fastening methods, Universal Trailer stress tested its trailers onto commercial truck test tracks for over two years, and used 3D modeling and computer vibration to further validate the new design. Its research indicates that these trailers have three times the life expectancy of many competitors’ models.
“The status quo is not good enough, so we embarked on a mission to create a more durable trailer that can go anywhere and withstand the test of time,” Howes said.
Technological advancements employed to build frame kits include:
- Robotic Welding: Three automated, gantry-style quick changeover welding stations with micron-precision welding will result in higher quality, squarer and truer cargo trailers. Automation allows for increased speed, efficiency and consistency achieved through repetitive welding.
- Anti-Corrosion Dip Tank: Every Trailer frame (chassis, walls and roof) is dipped in ArmorTech™, an advanced protective coating from Valspar. This environmentally friendly corrosion treatment is proven, through laboratory testing, to deliver real-world protection against rust creep.
- A-Frames: Sealed with an automotive quality topcoat finish.
- Stronger and Lighter: Trailers are made with High-Strength, Low Alloy (HSLA) Roll Formed Steel, with Grade 50 steel used on the chassis and wall attachment flange. This produces a new trailer frame that is up to 15 percent lighter yet stronger, delivering increased fuel economy and cargo capacity.