Trailer orders boom in June

Workers build a trailer at Wabash National's operation in Cadiz, Ky.

Workers build a trailer at Wabash National's operation in Cadiz, Ky.

Trailer orders for the month of June exceeded orders taken in May of this year, according to the latest data from FTR. It was the seventh month that orders have exceeded orders from the previous month, displaying a pattern of increasing sales for the first half of this year, reported Commercial Carrier Journal.

Compared to May 2017, sales increased by 12% . When compared to June 2016, the figure was 58% higher. Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles said orders over the past 12 months have reached 261,000.

“The trailer market had a fantastic month in June. Production was the highest since July 2015,” Ake said. “Backlogs are dropping, but that’s due to the high build rates rather than lower orders.”

The spot freight market is growing right now, which helps explains the monthly surge of trailer orders for the previous seven months. Furthermore, as DAT.com eventually discovered, there is a skyrocketing demand for flatbed trucks.

DAT.com’s load-to-truck ratio shows refrigerated trailers have a load ratio of 6.6 per vehicle and vans are at 3.5. Flatbeds, though, have a 43.7 load-to-truck ratio.

Based on statistics gathered since August 2016, the time when flatbed demand started increasing, orders have increased 102%.

One of the markets credited for the escalating demand for flatbed trucks is the wind energy market. Initiatives to shift from fossil fuels to alternative sources of energy meant business entities needing trucks to move around the country. Utility-grade turbines, for instance, require up to 8,000 parts, many of which are shipped via flatbed.

Many of these flatbed orders were traced to Texas, one of the states with the most activity related to wind energy generation and manufacturing. Flatbed trucks are used to ship and deliver parts like towers, blades and turbine assembly parts, especially in cities like Fort Worth, Dallas and Houston.

Flatbed demand in construction is also rising. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau dated April 25, 2017, and cited by DAT, there was a 15% increase in sales of single family homes, which has triggered an increase in new housing starts.

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight has covered the U.S. trucking and transportation community for more than 10 years, winning numerous regional and national editorial awards, including a Jesse. H. Neal Award. Prior to working on FreightWaves, Brian spent 10 years at industry trade magazine Fleet Owner, and prior to that managed daily newspaper editorial operations.