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Flatbed trucking has become an increasingly popular method of transporting oversized and bulky cargo within the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Unlike traditional enclosed trailer shipping, flatbed trailer shipping offers more flexibility and versatility, allowing for the safe transport of a wide range of cargo. Today, we will look at flatbed trucking to help businesses better understand how it works, how to secure loads on a flatbed trailer, and choose the right flatbed shipping company for their unique needs. Whether you’re new to flatbed trucking or looking to improve your operations, we have everything you need to know right here.

Flatbed Trucking: The Basics

Flatbed trailers have a simple design consisting of a rectangular-shaped, open platform with no walls, roof, or doors to provide versatility for loading and unloading the cargo. Different flatbed trailers accommodate over-dimensional freight and freight based on load capacity, size, and delivery timeline. Here is a list of some types of flatbed trailers for freight shipping:

  • Tandem and Tridem Flatbeds – These flatbed trucks have axles consisting of two and three sets of tires, capable of carrying oversized and overweight cargo loads while ensuring stability and control during transportation.
  • Conestoga Trucking Trailers –  These are flatbeds covered by a retractable tarp system, which provides added security and protection for the cargo. They are ideal for transporting goods that require additional protection against the elements.
  • Step-deck Trailers –  Also called drop-deck trailers, step-decks have a higher front deck and lower rear deck to carry taller loads up to 10’ high legally. Some trailers are equipped with ramp systems to make loading and unloading easier.
  • Double-drop Trailers – Double-drop trailers have a lower deck than traditional flatbeds to accommodate taller cargo up to 12’ legally. Some trailers also have removable gooseneck features that make it easy to load and unload equipment.

Whether you’re shipping heavy equipment, building materials, or any other freight, choosing the right type of flatbed trailer is essential to ensure safe cargo transportation. 

Industries That Use Flatbed Trucks

From construction to manufacturing and everything in between, a flatbed truck is a go-to option for businesses looking for a reliable and versatile shipping solution. Let’s look at the industries that rely on flatbed trucks to haul freight and why.

  • Construction Industry: The construction industry heavily relies on flatbed trucking to transport building materials, such as steel beams, lumber, pipes, and heavy machinery, including excavators and bulldozers. 
  • Manufacturing Industry: Manufacturers often use flatbed trucks to transport their oversized machinery, equipment, and raw materials to factories or customers. Flatbed trailers are also ideal for shipping bulk goods, including auto parts, aerospace components, and industrial machines.
  • Oil and Gas Industry: The oil and gas industry frequently uses flatbed trucks to transport drilling equipment and machines, storage tanks, and large pipes. 
  • Agriculture Industry: The agriculture industry utilizes flatbed trucks to transport crops and farm equipment, such as combines and tractors.
  • Renewable Energy Industry: The renewable energy industry involves transporting large-scale solar panel equipment and small transformers, all of which can be transported on a flatbed truck.

Flatbed trailer shipping is a reliable and versatile solution for industries that need to transport large and heavy cargo safely and efficiently. This mode of transport is also an excellent option for delivering to remote sites or locations without a loading dock. By understanding how to transport a load on a flatbed trailer, businesses can ensure they are using the best transport option for their business needs. 

How do the Costs of Flatbed Shipping Compare to Other Modes?

Let’s take a closer look at the pricing methods for flatbed shipping, the factors that can affect freight rates, and how companies can get the best possible rates for their flatbed shipping needs. Traditional pricing methods include contract, spot rate, and project pricing.

The pricing of flatbed shipping depends on several factors, such as the type of cargo, mode of transportation, cargo weight and size, distance traveled, and points of pickup and delivery. Several factors influence the fluctuation of freight rates, including tarping, fuel cost, demand volatility, weather conditions, capacity, and equipment availability. 

When comparing flatbed shipping rates to other shipping methods, such as the dry van or reefers, flatbed shipping is typically more expensive due to the unique equipment requirements and skill sets required to move oversized items or cargo.

Companies should work with a reputable company like Logistics Group International (LGI) that offers competitive pricing to get the best possible rates for their flatbed shipping needs. LGI can help companies get the lowest possible rates by using industry knowledge and negotiating transportation costs on their client’s behalf. 

Flatbed Shipping Offers Key Benefits to Shippers

When it comes to shipping large and oversized cargo, flatbed trucking is the preferred method of transportation for many shippers. The reasons for this are pretty straightforward, as flatbed trucking offers many benefits, making it an attractive option for businesses looking to move their goods safely and efficiently. Here are some of the key reasons why:

  • Versatility – Flatbed trailers are tailor-made to accommodate a wide range of freight, from heavy machinery and construction materials to large pipes and steel beams. Unlike other trailers, flatbed options allow businesses to transport oversized,  and irregularly shaped items that would otherwise be difficult to transport.
  • Accessibility – Flatbed trailers are designed to be open-air and without walls, which makes it easier to load and unload goods using heavy equipment such as forklifts or cranes, making them ideal for businesses without standard loading docks. This accessibility increases efficiency and productivity, helping companies to save time and money in the long run.
  • Flexibility – With different open deck trailers available, such as step-deck and double-drop trailers, shippers can configure the trailers to accommodate different types of freight, especially large or awkwardly shaped items. This flexibility gives shippers options for transporting their cargo. For instance, chassis availability is often an issue for drayage operations. While there isn’t a specific flatbed shipping container, hauling shipping containers on a flatbed is an ideal option to keep freight moving. 
  • Cost-Effectiveness – Flatbed shipping can be a more cost-effective option for moving large volumes of freight, which can help businesses save money in the long run. By avoiding multiple smaller trailers, companies can use a single flatbed trailer to transport more goods and control shipping costs.
  • Reduced Risk of Damage – Using flatbed trailers to transport goods can reduce the risk of damage compared to other transportation methods. Since cargo is typically secured with straps or chains, it prevents load shifting or damage during transport. This means the shipment arrives at its destination safely and in good condition, reducing the risk of costly damage claims.

Flatbed trucking is an excellent option for businesses looking to move their large or oversized cargo safely and efficiently. In the next section, we’ll dive into some helpful tips on securing and loading your cargo onto a flatbed trailer for safe transport.

Five Tips for Flatbed Shipping

We know flatbed shipping can be an affordable and efficient way to transport large, bulky, and oddly shaped items. If you plan on using this method for your cargo, you should keep a few essential things in mind. How should you transport a load on a flatbed trailer? Here are five tips that will help you have a smooth and safe flatbed shipping experience:

  1. A Secured Load is a Safe Load. One should secure the load following FMCSA Cargo Securement Rules before hitting the road, for instance, using chocks or wedges to prevent freight from rolling or using the proper tie-downs. By adhering to these measures, the shipment can remain secure even over rough terrain or unexpected obstacles, allowing for a smoother and safer transportation process.
  2. Make Maintenance a Priority. Trailers should be checked daily before heading out and throughout transport. The FMCSA requires carriers to perform routine inspections and repairs and maintain records to ensure all equipment is in good working order. Monitoring tire pressure, for instance, reduces the risk of a blowout and helps ensure safe and efficient transportation to its destination. 
  3. Know Your Limits and Load. Shippers must ensure an accurate weight for hauling cargo via flatbed. Roads, bridges, and axles have specific weight limits to prevent damage or safety incidents. Exceeding weight limits can result in fines, penalties, injuries, and cargo or truck damage.
  4. Proper Placement is Key. Understanding how to place items of different shapes and sizes on a flatbed trailer is essential. It’s not just about getting everything to fit; balancing the load and evenly distributing the weight across the trailer reduces shifting and trailer sway. 
  5. Choose Drivers Wisely. Experienced flatbed truckers can guide you toward successful flatbed shipping. In addition to a commercial driver’s license and insurance, oversize or overweight shipments may require additional permitting.

These five tips give you a hassle-free, efficient, and safe flatbed shipping experience! Whether you’re a seasoned pro or new to flatbed trucking, these tips will help ensure your cargo reaches its destination without any issues.

Choose LGI for All Your Flatbed Trucking Needs

In conclusion, flatbed shipping provides companies looking to transport oversized cargo with a cost-effective means of transportation compared to other shipping options. With twenty years of industry experience, LGI has established itself as a reliable and efficient partner for shippers looking for flatbed trucking solutions. Some of the services offered by LGI include shipping over-dimensional legal freight, tech-enabled visibility for oversize loads, and real-time trucking spot market rates through a cloud-based rating engine. Remember, choosing the right flatbed trailer, knowing how to transport a load on a flatbed trailer, and working with a reputable flatbed shipping company can make all the difference in facilitating safe and successful cargo transportation. Choose LGI, and let us take the stress out of flatbed trucking, so you can focus on what matters – the growth and success of your business.