How do you repair a lowboy trailer whose deck structure has bent under overloading and lost its arc? That’s one thing that’s not among the ATA Technology & Maintenance Council’s recommended practices, and it came up at an exploratory session earlier this week during TMC’s fall meeting in Raleigh, N.C.
The session sought to identify trailer-oriented concerns that TMC members might formally explore, said Kevin Tomlinson, a former TMC general chairman and maintenance director at South Shore Transportation in Sandusky, Ohio. His company runs numerous flatbed trailers, and they are what he had in mind when opening the session on Monday, the first official day of the meeting.
“The session was not well attended, maybe a half dozen people, and no one was speaking up," he said. "So I figured, ‘Well, OK, there aren’t any issues and we don’t need to go further.' Then someone brought up that question.
"How do you repair something like that? We don’t have any gooseneck trailers (at South Shore), and the arcs in our flatbeds stay there for years. But this might be worth looking into.”
A new task force might do that. Or an existing task force that focuses on trailers, truck bodies and associated equipment might look into such issues, as it has many others over the years. Tomlinson said it could, among other things, bring in representatives of lowboy trailer manufacturers or specialty shops who can speak to it.
The inquiry came during TMC’s new emphasis on trailer maintenance as part of its annual technician skills competition held concurrently at the Raleigh Convention Center. It’s called a Trailer Track and was part of the skills testing held over several days, through Tuesday.
“The purpose of the new trailer technician track is to showcase the specialized set of skills these professionals use every day to keep North America’s freight rolling and recognize a group of technicians who otherwise may not have a chance to compete at a national level in a technician competition,” said Carl Kirk, TMC’s executive director and an ATA vice president, in a statement issued by TMC in July.
“The technology finding its way on today’s trailers is every bit as complex as what’s found on tractors and straight trucks.”
Winners of the competition, called TMC SuperTech, are to be announced on Wednesday.