"We continue to engineer compromises between aesthetics, ergonomics, and functionality."

Trucking in the new millennium will continue to address the inherent challenges which result from the key role the trucking industry plays in America's economic infrastructure. Today's issues of safety, on-time delivery performance, product reliability, cost containment, driver retention and environmental responsibility will continue to drive the product development efforts of truck manufacturers and component suppliers. Our challenge, in turn, is to deliver products that expand our existing technologies and meet fleet owners' expectations.

At ConMet, we provide products that address three separate, but often related, needs: (1) styling, (2) weight savings, and (3) extended maintenance. Each area presents unique problems, but some solutions have a positive effect on more than one area. There's a word for it: synergy.

ConMet molded plastic components are found in many of the new truck models, from instrument panels, door assemblies, and sleeper componentry to various exterior applications. Along with the ever-present challenges of styling issues, we continue to engineer compromises between aesthetics, ergonomics, and functionality.

For example, a new instrument panel must not only have excellent visual appeal, it must accommodate a wide array of driver body sizes, provide all necessary gauges, and include cup holders capable of handling the biggest Big Gulp. And that's just on the show side! All those wires, HVAC ducting, fuse relays and satellite trucking hardware found on the back side must be considered too. This is a daunting task for the truck OEM and requires a great deal of coordination among the various component suppliers.

It's no secret that most of the interior cab/sleeper enhancements have an additive effect on the tare weight of the vehicle. So another challenge looms large on the product development horizon: How do we put the truck or trailer on a diet and also improve performance? We are continually working with our customers to develop aluminum castings that deliver maximum value at optimum weight. ConMet relies on state-of-the-art computer design and modeling techniques to improve product performance. Part consolidation is a constant underlying goal during any redesign effort. And finally, validation testing methods continue to become more sophisticated as an ongoing means of ensuring product performance.

ConMet's other challenge as we race towards the millennium is to continue to deliver products that provide extended maintenance intervals to fleet operators. Through our PreSet wheel ends we've been able to design a systems approach that improves product reliability and thereby minimizes equipment downtime. PreSet was not the result of our efforts alone, but resulted from multiple suppliers devising a singular solution to a complex problem.

How will ConMet meet the challenges of the new millennium? We will continue to invest in our core competencies of engineered solutions through world-class manufacturing processes. And we will continue to participate in the various communications forums, such as TMC, which help to identify the future needs of our industry.

We look forward to the challenges of the future. We're proud to be part of the trucking industry, the backbone of American commerce in this century - and the next.