CASE STUDY: Flatbed Aluminum Trailers

Process: Aluminum GMAW Welding/Material Handlingcase-study-flatbed

Industry: Tractor/Trailer

Parts: Aluminum Flat Bed Trailers (48-53 ft. in length)

Company: Manufacturer of Flatbed Aluminum Trailers


Project Results

Robotic system meets or exceeds project requirements for welding trailer components and material handling. Visual welds along entire length of 53 ft of trailer. Robot systems and material handling systems for new plant start up achieved 100 man-hour savings per trailer versus 100% manual operations the company previously achieved.



  • Understanding component repeatability and which processes could be automated and which ones should remain manual
  • Aluminum welding of a product required strategic placement of weld wire and torch angle requirements
  • Arrange equipment in a startup facility to optimize safety, material handling, and throughput while minimizing manning requirements



Tennessee Rand successfully engineered, fabricated, programmed, and installed this complex multi-operational system at a trailer manufacturer facility in the US.  Experience in aluminum welding was vital for this challenging project. As the individual components were previously manually welded, they were not conducive for robotic welding and required much engineering investigation to determine which processes could be automated.

Tennessee Rand’s tooling experts providing a tooling design that automated welding and assembly where applicable and achieved dimensional repeatability.  Our engineers also developed material handling systems utilizing large headstock/tailstock carts to hold and locate the entire 53’ trailer to assist with the final assembly processes.

The process was broken down into 4 main areas:

  1. Material handling devices utilizing overhead crane
  2. Robotic welding of spools and pockets on side rail assemblies
  3. Gantry weld system that welded entire seam welds along 53’ length and automatically drilled and screwed planks into correct position
  4. Material Handling carts that allowed customer to manipulate entire 53’ flatbed trailer to assist in final assembly operations

The side rail cell was equipped with 2 Panasonic® robots with aluminum weld package.  The gantry operation consisted of 4 fixed tooling guns with seam tracking and servo controlled locations for drilling and screwing operations.