TAMPA, FL. Fontaine Trailer is officially introducing a flatbed and intermodal chassis rebuild program that draws from its experience rebuilding similar units under contract for the U.S. military.

Todd Anderson, Fontaine’s vice president & general manager, explained here during a press conference at the 2012 Technology and Maintenance Council annual meeting that the company’s new rebuild program – dubbed Fontaine Renew – offers fleets a chance to return flatbed trailers and intermodal chassis to a “like new” condition at a third to one-half the cost of purchasing a new unit, which can cost on average anywhere from $23,000 to $28,000.

Yet the program also allows customers to upgrade their older units as well with better lighting packages, wiring harnesses, and even braking systems if so desired. “We can replace a wood-floor with aluminum, for example, or add anti-rollover systems if they want,” Anderson said.

[You can watch a video of Fontaine’s trailer rebuild process by clicking here.]

He noted that trailers entering this rebuild program – which the company started six months ago – go through an 11-station, 152-stop process on an assembly line dedicated to commercial operations within the plant its uses to recondition trailers for the military. “The military business is falling off, so we’re putting the experience we’ve gained refurbishing trailers in that market to commercial fleets,” Anderson said.

Any brand, make, or model of flatbed or intermodal chassis can be submitted to Fontaine for refurbishment, but they must first pass the initial inspection process to ensure that no major defects exist due to corrosion or other damage. “We’re finding that due to the more corrosive nature of snow removal chemicals today, it might be advisable for fleets to consider rebuilding such units at year seven or eight versus 10 years,” he said.

The key piece of Fontaine’s rebuild process is that it strips trailers and chassis alike “down to the bone,” in Anderson’s words, so the frame can be completely re-painted – first using an 80% zinc-based primer, followed with a polyurethane enamel for maximum corrosion resistance. “We also recommend they change out the wiring harness complete and upgrade the lights from incandescent to LEDs (light emitting diodes) as well,” he pointed out.

Right now, Anderson said Fontaine has a backlog of 1,500 trailers waiting to be refurbished via its Renew program, but expects that to drop significantly when it adds a second shift to its rebuild operations later this year.

“Right now, we’re refurbishing three trailers a day through our program, but we expect that, on average, by adding that second shift we should be able to turn rebuilds around in about 60 days start to finish – depending on the upgrades customers want,” he noted.

While Anderson admitted that Fontaine’s Renew program will siphon off some new trailer sales, it’s a service that the fleet market is demanding more frequently after surviving the recent downturn.

“The thing about refurbishment is that it makes sense whether the economy is good or bad; fleets are getting a second lifecycle out of their asset,” he explained. “Our customers also wanted an alternative to buying new trailers, so this fulfills a need in the market.”