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Understanding Truck Trailer Types and Uses

Truck shipping services help you ship heavy products or equipment smoothly by land using various types of truck trailers. The kind they use depends on their applications and weight limit. This blog outlines the different types of truck trailers widely used for shipping.

What Types of Truck Trailers Do Shipping Companies Use?


  1. Flatbed

Flatbed trailers mainly carry huge manufactured parts, construction goods and diverse oversize loads. These trailers come with flattened surfaces that are open, with no top or sides. Because of their design, they are a better option than a standard 53-foot trailer to load and unload large freight. They can be loaded from all directions, including forklift rear, forklift side and overhead crane. Tarps, straps and other locking devices are used to secure your valuables. As flatbed trucks have a maximum capacity of 48,000 pounds, they are perfect for heavy shipments.


  1. Extendable Flatbed

Extendable flatbed trailers are also known as stretch or trombone trailers. These are the right choice when your freight is too long for a standard flatbed. Such trailers can easily carry 48- to 80-foot-long shipments such as bridge parts, high-rise structures and wind turbines. They carry a maximum load of 45,000 pounds.


  1. Dry Van

Dry van trailers are mostly used to move cargo. They are fully enclosed and do not have temperature control, making them perfect to move commodities like plastic, electronics, building products, textiles and clothing. Dry van trailers provide excellent security for your valuables during transit, and their length usually ranges from 48 to 53 feet. Although they can haul loads up to 45,000 pounds, 43,000 pounds is a more standard size.


  1. Refrigerated

Refrigerated trailers, naturally, ship food items that must be kept frozen. They can only be loaded and unloaded from the rear using a forklift and dock. Its deck height is standard (which is four feet from the ground). This type of trailer can carry goods of approximately 40,000 pounds.


  1. Step Deck

Step deck trailers are open with two deck levels. The upper and lower decks drop down after the tractor unit is cleared. These trailers are used to ship commodities such as building materials, as well as large pieces of machinery and equipment. They usually haul taller loads and have ramps for unloading. As they are close to the ground, they can be safely used for forklift pickups. The main deck is lowered to more easily haul the higher material. These trailers can be loaded or unloaded from the side or top. To even out the lower deck with the top one, load levellers are used.


  1. Double Drop Deck

Double drop deck trailers are perfect for oversized freight, i.e., taller than 10 feet. As these trailers have a lower centre of gravity, they can load heavy shipments with ease. The middle portion of the trailer, known as the well, ranges from 25 to 29 feet and dips under trailer axles. Such trailers have two or more axles and a flip axle that can flip up and down to create an extra axle to balance weight. Double drop deck trailers help to ship irregularly-shaped products and overweight freight.


  1. Lowboy

Do you need to ship goods that are taller than the legal height of other trailers? Lowboy trailers can fulfil your needs. They are mainly used for heavy-duty construction equipment and have numerous axles to help haul larger loads. The weight varies from 40,000 to 80,000 pounds, according to the number of aisles. (Two axle trailers can haul approximately 40,000 pounds, for instance.) Most lowboy trailers are operated using hydraulic systems. The hydraulic rams lift the trailer to meet the unit after loading.


  1. B-Train

A B-Train trailer consists of two trailers linked together by a fifth wheel. From flatbed to step deck and dry van, B-Trains come in different styles. As the entire length of a B-Train is usually 60 feet, it is ideal for hauling a huge amount of freight. Because of its design, the two trailers can be easily broken up. Then, the smaller trucks ship goods to their destinations. Sometimes, the fifth wheel at the end of the first trailer makes driving a little difficult. The driver needs to implement their additional skills when backing up.


  1. Specialized

Specialized trainers are specifically designed to move certain products, especially hazardous materials and liquids like fuel, although the driver needs a special license and permission. Specialized trailers can pull a maximum of 200,000 pounds, but their shipping costs are higher than traditional truck shipping.

The shipping industry mostly uses the above-mentioned types of truck trailers. Now that you understand their features, capacities and types of loads they can carry, you have a better idea of how the process works. Get in touch with a reputable truck shipping company that can suggest the trailer best suited to your shipping needs.

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