As we look ahead to a new year, Ryerson asks its market managers to identify key trends that will have the greatest impact on their markets going forward. For this post we look at the trailer industry.

What does it take to succeed in the market today? In a word, confidence. It’s the idea of being able to operate with the confidence that you can meet any request at any given time.

For those in the trailer market, that confidence is contingent upon many different variables. From the ability to source material to being able to process parts in a cost-effective manner, many of these variables can be addressed by having the right partners who understand your business.

We caught up with Amanda Seabaugh, Ryerson’s vertical market manager for the trailer industry, who gives us, in her own words, what it means to operate with confidence in the trailer market today.

Continuity of Supply

Seabaugh: “Despite capacity constraints that exist in the market today, the idea of continuity of supply isn’t out of the question. For customers in this market, that assurance of continuity is what will help them operate with confidence moving forward.

Take seamless aluminum roof coil, for instance. This is one product that has been severely impacted by the U.S. Dept. of Commerce’s self-initiated investigation into China dumping of common alloy sheet in November. Much of this product is imported from China, and now that leaves one mill in the entire U.S. that can produce wide trailer roof coil. That leaves many with a feeling of uncertainty.

This is where having strategic partnerships with the mill holds an advantage. For Ryerson, our relationship with this mill provides certain assurances when it comes to capacity. For customers, this translates into sureness that they can say yes to projects that require seamless aluminum roof coil.

Painted aluminum is another example, which is used for trailer skins. This product is continuous cast, which is a process used for reducing the cost of manufacturing for a variety of aluminum flat rolled products.

Our strategic partnership with the producing mill helps to ensure continuity of supply of painted aluminum. And that is a very big deal, as this is a material that is in high demand within this market.

Those customers who have chosen to partner with us on these products can sleep easier knowing they will be able to get what they need, when they need it. On the flipside, customers who typically shop or spot buy from multiple suppliers may find themselves in a tight spot when it comes to these products in 2019.”

Manage Unpredictability

Seabaugh: “Beyond material availability, I think one of the biggest opportunities for customers in the trailer market will be to focus on ways to increase throughput and decrease internal costs. This is true for companies in many industries, but specifically for the trailer market in periods of the year when production levels see unpredictable spikes in demand.

This is where partners like Ryerson play an integral role, given our ability to take on value-added processes. In particular, the fabrication of cut/formed plate parts. We have invested in world-class plate cutting technology and equipment and have facilities dedicated to plate processing. Together, this translates into fast and reliable turnaround for anything from simple cut pieces to more complex fabrications including beveling, machining, blasting and forming.

I see great opportunity for using tube laser services to cut parts as well. For customers, the mindset should be on how tube laser technology can help them rethink how they process parts. The technology provides a range of different benefits, including a reduction in storage of semi-finished parts and the ability to improve working capital management.

As I look ahead, while there are indeed challenges for those in the trailer market, there are many opportunities as well. For these companies, success will be defined by operating with the confidence that they have access to both the resources and capabilities to meet any request. And partners who are closely attuned to their production patterns, from large-scale production to specialized components, will play an essential role.”

Aluminum plate, sheet, coil inventory