NATM Debuts 2021 Guidelines

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The National Association of Trailer Manufacturers (NATM), known as the resource for safety and compliance for the light- and medium-duty trailer industry, has published the 2021 edition of the Guidelines. This massive document takes the guesswork out of meeting federal requirements governing the manufacturing of trailers under 26,000 lbs. GVWR and is a benefit of NATM membership.

Building trailers to meet the federal regulations outlined in the NATM Guidelines is the law. But it can be very time-intensive for trailer manufacturers to research the numerous federal rules, regulations, standards, and accepted industry practices that govern trailer construction.

NATM addresses this by compiling the Guidelines for Recommended Manufacturing Practices for Light- and Medium-Duty Trailers. The document consists of over nearly 500 pages of laws, regulations, rules, standards, and industry best practices. While NATM’s Compliance Verification program focuses on federal regulation, the Association provides specific additional state regulation as reference. The Guidelines is updated annually by industry experts that stay abreast of changing regulations and vet the addition of recommendations and best practices.

This year through the annual revision process, the 2021 edition of the NATM Guidelines received several updates. These include:

  • Updating 49 CFR §571.139 per recent NHTSA amendments, removing the reference to §571.109, an earlier error when the regulation was written
  • Added 49 CFR §567.1 through 567.7 (567.4 previously included) to cover requirements for manufacturers of vehicles in 2 or more stages and alterers, as well as relevant background information for those regulations.
  • Updated the Quick Guide and Checklist, adding question 7.41 regarding underride labeling and correlating regulatory information.
  • Added a Recommended Practices Quick Guide to support members in meeting voluntary recommendations

Members report substantial time savings by utilizing the Guidelines, particularly on the topics of lighting and reflectors, VIN and data plates, gross vehicle weight ratings, and state brake requirements. While the Guidelines focus on U.S. regulations, many may have an interest in Canadian compliance. For more information, visit Transport Canada’s website at www.tc.gc.ca/en/transport-canada.html.

NATM assists its trailer manufacturing members in avoiding costly fines and decreasing liability related to trailer compliance through the NATM Compliance Verification Program (CVP). The NATM CVP is an unbiased, third-party audit of the trailer manufacturing process and uses the Guidelines as the backbone for the program. The CVP provides biennial on-site consultations to trailer manufacturers and technical assistance throughout the entire process to ensure companies are manufacturing trailers consistent with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and other industry best practices.

Once a trailer manufacturer has successfully passed the Compliance Verification Program, the company is able to purchase NATM Decals and market their company’s dedication to fulfilling their safety requirements by participating in an unbiased, third-party audit of their trailers. While participation in the NATM Compliance Verification Program is an additional, voluntary cost for manufacturers, there are economic benefits of participation.

“The first-year sales saw a 20 percent boost and blew past the forecast over three years for the sales improvements for revenue targets for the existing trailer product. We will continue to use up the [NATM] labels we have in stock, and then order more,” said Pete Dixon, Engineer at Karcher North America, Inc., regarding the benefit of being a member of the National Association of Trailer Manufacturers.

For more information about how the National Association of Trailer Manufacturers can assist your trailer manufacturing company, contact us, email NATMHQ@natm.com, or call (785) 272-4433.