Changes occurring in the tank trailer manufacturing industry over the past year will reduce annual production capacity by at least 1,000 units a year, according to the results of an informal survey conducted by Modern Bulk Transporter. The remaining annual capacity is 3,000 to 4,000 units if plants are fully staffed.
Stainless steel trailers used to transport chemicals and liquid edibles are most affected by the cut in production capacity, according to tank builders interviewed during the National Tank Truck Carriers annual conference May 6-8 in Boston, Massachusetts.
The production capacity loss is the result of plant closings in New York, South Carolina, and Wisconsin. A steep drop in new tank orders precipitated the plant closings, and there is general agreement that more plant closings are likely if the tank truck industry remains in the economic doldrums much longer.
Manufacturers say it will be difficult to rebuild production capacity when the economy rebounds once skilled workers find jobs in other sectors. These workers include ASME-qualified welders. They add that it would take at least a year to fully staff the remaining plants.