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Utility Churning Out Trailer Enhancements

Sales are up 40% in 2011 for Utility Trailer Manufacturing Co., which is inspiring the company to introduce a variety of enhancements across its product line of refrigerated, dry van, curtainside, and flatbed models.

During a press conference at the Great American Trucking Show, Craig Bennett, Utility’s senior VP-sales and marketing, noted that the company is now making LED [light emitting diode] lighting a standard feature for its dry van and reefer models.

With the introduction of an LED midship clearance lamp in the fourth quarter this year – a lamp that will also do double duty as a turn signal – Bennett said all of the lights on Utility’s dry van trailers will be 100% LED units.

Utility is also rolling out a new version of its side skirts for its dry van trailer models. Dubbed the USS-120A, short for ‘Utility Side Skirt-Advanced,’ the new design now extends an extra two feet all the way to the trailer’s landing gear, covering the company’s unique five hole pattern in the gear’s wing plates to further reduce underside air drag. The skirts are also now constructed from a new fiberglass reinforced material featuring improved ultraviolet (UV) light protection.

Bennett noted that 30% of its dry van and refrigerated models are now being ordered with side skirts.

Speaking of refrigerated models, Bennett said Utility is expanding the use of its Versitex VR2 interior lining material, making it a standard feature covering the sidewalls and inside of the rear doors on its reefer trailers. The lining provides improved puncture resistance while simultaneously creating a better moisture barrier to help prevent corrosion and mildew formation, he said.

Finally, Utility is now offering a new optional tie-down system called the adjustable load securement system (ALSS) for its 4000A flatbed model as well as its Drop Deck, Tautliner curtainside, and Conestoga 2 products.

The ALSS features mechanically fastened side rails with integral tie-down and winch tracks, upon which 20 special J-Hook tie downs, rated at a 5,500 lb working load limit each, are used. When not in use, the J-Hooks are stored on two special lockable racks on the underside of the trailer, 10 on each side of the trailer.

Bennett stressed, however, that Utility does not recommend using its ALSS system to secure steel coils.

He added, too, that Utility is witnessing a strong uptick in flatbed trailer demand this year. Back in 2009, approximately 5% of all the trailers it built were flatbeds, with 45% dry van and 50% refrigerated. This year, flatbeds represent 15% of its production mix, with dry vans at 35% and refrigerated still at 50%.

“We’re not quite hitting the [trailer sales] peak we did in 2006 but we’re awful close,” he noted. “We’ll be about 10% shy of the 2006 peak by the end of this year.”

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