Heavy-duty truck orders more than doubled by late summer as shipping companies maintained a torrid order pace that has several major producers reporting growing backlogs of unbuilt vehicles (see Infographic, pg. 16).

Columbus, Indiana-based ACT Research estimates that companies ordered a record 53,100 Class 8 trucks in August, far more than doubling the corresponding month in 2017.

“Preliminary data indicate that during the month of August, NA Class 8 orders rose 0.9% month-over-month and 150% from August 2017,” says Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst. “Super-strong orders in June and July are likely pulling large fleet orders ahead in the schedule, as truckers race to reserve build slots in a market where demand is running well above capacity.”

Fleets ordered 38,200 trailers in August as well, according to ACT preliminary data, up 30% from July and 140% from August, 2017.

“The summer has shown amazing strength, reflecting [the] commercial fleets’ positive outlook in response to solid freight rates, volumes, and capacity challenges. After seeing the strongest July volume in industry history, August followed suit, surpassing the previous record in August 1994 by more than 11,000 orders,” says Frank Maly, ACT’s director of commercial vehicle transportation analysis and research. “Year-to-date net orders of more than 238,000 trailers are greater than 40% versus last year. Eight of the 10 trailer categories are in the black year-over-year, with seven of those posting double-digit or better gains.”http://www.actresearch.net

Porsche, Schuler partner for press shop

Porsche and Schuler have formed a joint venture to create the Smart Press Shop using a networked, Industry 4.0 approach. New technologies will enable flexible production of complex car body parts, focusing on small-batch production of aluminum body panels.

“Porsche wants to use the joint venture to lay the foundations for the future of sports car manufacturing,” says Albrecht Reimold, member of the executive board for production and logistics at Porsche AG. “By dovetailing design, development, car body planning, toolmaking, and production within the Porsche Group, we can significantly influence the quality of our sports cars.”

Schuler CEO Domenico Iacovelli says the joint venture will set standards in “manufacturing performance, as well as the digital networking and readability of data streams... Not only Porsche will benefit from this major step forward, but ultimately other manufacturers as well.”

The companies hope to collect end-to-end production data from networked equipment, eventually providing machine learning via artificial intelligence (AI). Goals are to improve predictive maintenance and production control.

The joint venture will use Schuler’s Servo 20 technology, raising maximum output to 20 strokes per minute (an 11% increase) while reducing energy consumption per stroke and per part.

The 50-50 joint venture will create more than 100 high-skill jobs. http://www.porsche.com; http://www.schulergroup.com