“Past performance is no guarantee of future results”, and it’s as true in fabrication and the truck trailer industry as it is in finance. The trailer industry is coming off a good year – a surprisingly good year in fact – so we’re trying to figure out if 2023 will be better or worse. Forecasting is notoriously difficult, but we think the omens are promising. Here’s our view of how the year ahead looks right now and what that means for those making and buying fabricated parts and assemblies.

A Tumultuous Couple of Years

When everything came to a halt in March 2020, who foresaw the boom in semi-truck trailer orders that was about to burst upon us? Business had been healthy in the previous couple of years, so a pause was always on the cards, but after a brief hiccup at the start of the pandemic orders rebounded strongly as 2020 turned into 2021.

That fizzled as supply chain issues, material shortages, and workforce challenges hit through 2021. These combined to limit trailer output to 249,400 units, and a shortage of Class 8 trucks meant companies were hesitant to receive trailers they couldn’t use.

Things changed for the better in 2022 though. Industry analysts ACT Research report that 361,500 semi-truck trailers were ordered last year, and some 306,000 were delivered. That means backlogs have grown – ACT estimates they’re at about 10 months – and trailer manufacturers are working hard.

Outlook for 2023 and Beyond

At Wiley we’re fabricators, not economists, so we won’t get into the outlook for interest rates and so on. What we can discuss though is what’s going on in the industry and what that means for those like us who fabricate and supply parts to trailer manufacturers.

Material supply issues are easing, and price increases are moderating. That will bring some stability to what has been a volatile situation. As metals industry website MetalMiner.com notes though, aluminum remains expensive by historical standards, due at least in part to higher energy costs. (Aluminum smelting is an energy-intensive process.)

Workforce issues remain too, particularly as older workers start moving into retirement and younger people remain reluctant to consider careers in manufacturing. At Wiley we’re blessed with hardworking and dependable teams in every aspect of our operations, but we’re careful not to take that for granted. We’ve been reorganizing and taking steps to strengthen our family culture so we will continue to be a place where people want to come to work.

In addition, we will continue to seek ways to improve quality and efficiency, and where it’s needed we’re also expanding capacity. Judicious capital investment means new equipment coming in, and of course, training and professional development are going on hand-in-hand with that.

Truck Trailer Parts Fabrication Capabilities

We have a long history of supplying leading truck trailer manufacturers with parts, and over that time we’ve built up an extensive portfolio. The list of truck trailer components we fabricate includes:

  • Crossmembers
  • Bumper legs
  • Fantails
  • Apron plates
  • Thresholds
  • Door track protectors

In fact, if you don’t see the parts you need listed it doesn’t mean we don’t or can’t make them. They just got left off because very long lists don’t make for interesting reading.

Fabrication Specialists Serving Indiana, the Midwest, and Beyond

The bottom line is this: 2023 looks good for truck trailer manufacturers, and we’re standing by ready to help. If you need fabricated parts for trailers, we can almost certainly assist. And if you’re in need of fabrications for applications that aren’t trailers, don’t discount us. Our client list ranges from producers of agricultural equipment and industrial manufacturers to logistics, distribution, and storage companies. We can even produce architectural elements if that’s what you’re looking for, so contact us and let’s talk.