How Technology Can Improve Efficiency for Trailer Manufacturers

Posted By: Darren Opsahl NATM News, Trailer Safety,

Demand for trailers is growing. On the flip side, labor, parts/components, and supply shortages restrict production speed. Meeting demand and setting prices is now more challenging than ever for trailer manufacturers.

Digitization, particularly with the 4.0 revolution in manufacturing, has spread throughout the manufacturing industry. Many manufacturers have realized the benefits of digital technology. Low and no-code software solutions are reducing barriers to entry, enabling manufacturers to build mobile forms and other functional solutions that use apps and mobile devices to solve current issues with production quality, material waste, lack of efficiency, and rising costs.

Common Issues Shared by Trailer Manufacturers

Material Shortages and Pricing Issues

Recent events have adversely impacted the supply and pricing of raw resources such as semiconductors, steel, aluminum, and copper. Additionally, more recently, magnesium, silicon, pig iron, carbon black, and oil.

Skilled Employee Shortages

The American Welding Society projects that the industry will face a reduction of 400,000 welders by 2024. Welding is a skill that trailer manufacturers rely on, making dependency on welding expertise critical to operations. As a result, the labor market for welders has become intensely competitive.

Many experienced welders are aging, with a shortage of younger talent to replace them. The average age is 55 years old. As they reach retirement age, a new wave of job vacancies will increase the pressure on companies to find skilled welders.

For many manufacturers, labor shortages have hurt inventory and, as a result, trailer sales. As Matt Arnold, President of Look Trailers, told Reuters,  “We [only] hired two from the classified [ads]”. Yet these two new candidates represent only a tenth of the 125 employees he needs to return to full capacity of 673 people. For example, half of the welding jobs at his Texas company remain vacant, creating a bottleneck in an operation that produces trailers on metal frames.

How the Wave of Low-Code Has Helped the Manufacturing Industry

Many manufacturers are using tablets and smartphones to gather production data rapidly, speed inspections, and identify product defects quickly. Employees use cell phones and productivity applications for shopping, banking, and communications daily and are more comfortable adopting this technology on the production floor as well. Employees are now taking inventory, ordering materials, and recording inspections with mobile devices that instantly share data and initiate follow-up activities.

Low-code and no-code software enable teams within manufacturing companies – even quality managers without coding or IT experience -- to create applications that improve production efficiency. Here are some ways that trailer manufacturers can combat staff shortages by building applications.

Streamlining Work with Increased Efficiency and Accuracy

Adopting smartphones  and tablets on the manufacturing floor can reduce or simplify routine or unnecessary work. Productivity tools inherent in mobile apps allow employees to finish more high-value work while spending less time on repetitive and unnecessary tasks. Companies can use mobile devices to execute inspections, inventory ordering, and other tasks in far less time than using paper forms or terminals.

Increased Data Accuracy

By going digital, employees avoid filing, rekeying, or searching for missing paper forms. Since digital data is instantly available and shareable, employees won’t need to recreate missing paper forms. Why use error-prone paper forms when you can utilize digital clipboards that capture more timely, detailed and accurate data?

Enhanced Speed of Data Collection

Mobile apps can speed up the collection of production data. By automatically capturing location or time stamping, material bar codes, capturing an image of a product defect, and other data, mobile devices can save employees time on their daily data collection activities. Using their employees' time wisely allows manufacturers to increase productivity and job satisfaction.

Digital Inspections and Maintaining Quality Control

Mobile no-code applications can speed up quality control and inspection processes. Technically skilled workers can work with IT to design apps to automate data capture, produce reports, and send notifications to red flag any production issues.

Scheduling Your Production

Businesses can create apps that integrate with their enterprise systems, such as ERPs and MRPs, to offer real-time access to data on inventory levels, production capabilities, and other aspects that influence production schedules.

Management on the Shop Floor

Developers and line-of-business teams can work together to create applications to manage shop floor control operations. These apps track the flow of supplies, equipment, and employees on the shop floor, providing immediate insight into production processes and supporting data-driven decision-making.

The advantage of these collaborations is a reduction in IT workload while enabling development teams to get insight into everyday working processes from non-technical employees.

Accessible Training Videos

Recording videos or written best practices on an app can guide less experienced workers or onboard new employees.

Integrate Applications with Existing Record-Keeping Systems

Applications can be built to integrate with record-keeping systems to activate processes or notify workers of a new task or inspection.

Reduce Risk

Mobile solutions reduce risk by rapidly gathering accurate and comprehensive production and assembly data, minimizing data-entry errors, expediting access to essential data, and documenting critical data for regulatory compliance.

The Benefits of No-Code and No-Code Platforms for Trailer Manufacturers

As market demands increase, so does the workload for trailer manufacturers and their employees. While there is an increasing skill shortage, applications can help fewer employees get more done, and quickly guide new or less experienced employees through more advanced processes.

Mobile manufacturing apps, from companies like Alpha Software, help production and quality teams quickly digitize their processes. They are proven to save time and costs while increasing efficiency in quality control, production, and distribution.

If you want to learn more about mobile manufacturing apps or Alpha Software manufacturing solutions, please reach out to Darren Opsahl,, 218-443-3661,