The NATM Innovation Award recognizes members that “exemplify great feats of creativity and innovation” in the areas of technological advancement, green practices, and workforce development.
LANE Trailer Manufacturing Co. of Boone, Iowa, took home the 2023 prize for efforts to become greener, improve efficiency, locally develop welding talent, and automate a range of processes to improve productivity.
The company, which specializes in trailers for the fiber optic, natural gas, and electrical distribution industries, highlighted the new equipment.
Investments included the addition of a C & G Systems High-Definition plasma table, Ermak 176-ton CNC press brake, LDR Motion Systems CNC plasma tube cutter for manufacturing cable trailer main frames, and the installation of two robotic welding cells that can build one reel trailer every hour.
Their software upgrades include the Autodesk Inventor, which offers finite element analysis, 3-D sales modeling and improved prints which improve repeatability and efficiency of products.
Product innovations at LANE included Auto Locking Reel Trailers which feature a patented clamping mechanism that eliminates manually locking safety pins and a clamping reel bar. Additionally, they have added a lighted reel bar height system that provides a visual warning for users.
LANE Trailers also boasts several green initiatives. The company has installed numerous solar panels that produce a combined 74,264 kilowatts of electricity, eliminating over 50 tons of CO2 emissions. LED lights have replaced all incandescent lights, and all welders run more efficiently.
Air purification methods have been amplified with their installation of a CNC plasma water table, ACCU Pulse MIG welding, Miller Capture 5 Machines and Ceiling Mount Donaldson machines that capture 95% of weld fume particles. The company also has an extensive recycling program and was awarded the Waste Reduction and Recycling Award by the Boone County Chamber of Commerce.
Additionally, LANE Trailers has made concerted efforts to build ties with their community and raise the next generation of the trailer industry workforce.
They have a high school outreach program and serve on the Career & Technical Education Advisory Council (CTE) which provides industry input for local schools, approves standards for CTE programs and recommend equipment, machinery, and technology for weld programs. Lane has both paid yearlong internships and paid summer internships for graduating seniors that have led to jobs directly out of high school—a major win for students and employers alike.
To diversify their prospective network of employees, Lane participates in Veteran Outreach initiatives by partnering with Home Base Iowa that focuses on hiring veterans. Lane Trailers has also hosted onsite Trailer Safety Week events and has been a longtime advocate for the NATM and its educational initiatives.