When shipping freight over-the-road, a shipper can choose from a variety of freight trailer types. Each transportation mode has advantages and disadvantages to both the shipper and the carrier hauling the freight. Depending on your shipping needs and freight type, consider a few options before deciding which one will work best. Flatbeds are open trailers made for moving oversize freight like heavy machinery and large equipment.Here are the pros and cons of flatbed trucking.
How does it work
It is fairly common for a flatbed to haul oversize and/or overweight loads. Generally speaking flatbed drivers with many years of driving experience handle the largest of all oversize loads. Special trailers like Removable Goose neck Trailers (RGN) are capable of hauling very heavy loads as well as military equipment.
With freight being transported on an open platform it is imperative that the freight is properly secured to prevent movement and the possibility of losing a load.
Nylon straps are attached to one side of the trailer with a metal hook and the other end is attached to a winch that is then tightened down in order to secure the load. Using straps is great because they are more user friendly to work with, are soft and wont damage the freight.
Tarping is sometimes needed to protect a load from weather, condensation, dirt or exhaust fumes. Lumber tarps, steel tarps, coil tarps and smoke tarps are different types of tarps that can be used. Tarps can weigh up to 80 pounds and often more if wet or covered in ice. Tarping can be very dangerous work and one of the harder duties involved in flatbed trucking.
- Better Pay: The vast majority of flatbed trucking companies pay more per mile and have longer hauls than most other types of trucking jobs. In addition flatbed trucking companies also pay their drivers a set fee to tarp a load that must be protected.
- Better Variety: Traveling across America is a beautiful sight, but the same route can only be so beautiful for so long. After a while, you may long for a change of scenery or just to go home. Flatbed truck drivers typically get the widest variety of loads to haul, from military equipment to luxury vehicles. This tends to translate into a variety of clients and routes as well.
- Better Health: According to latest research, sitting is the new smoking. In other words, sedentary work is now leading to life-threatening complications at basically the same rate as smoking. This job requires manual labor and moving around. As long as you follow safety guidelines, it may help to ensure a longer and healthier life than your other trucking colleagues.
- Danger: Flatbed trucking compared to all other types of trucking jobs is the most dangerous for a verity of factors. Many loads require the driver to climb on top of tall loads in order to tarp or attach load securing devices. With the tarp being spread over the load it can be very difficult to detect were it is safe to step. There may be no material to stand on under the tarp. The chance of falling from from a high load is very likely if extreme caution is not used.Another reason that flatbed trucking is dangerous is due to the type of freight that is hauled. Pipe, I-beams and other heavy loads can be very hazardous to be near when unloading or while removing securing devices. Loads can become unstable and fall or collapse and then spill over the sides of the trailer killing or injuring anyone standing in the way.
- Damaged goods: When the trailer damage occurs or the cooling system breaks down, your products can be spoiled.
- Time consuming: The loading and unloading process can take a long time.
- Information: If you don’t have access to tracking trailer conditions, you won’t know what’s happening to the shipment.
Have you ever driven a flatbed? Which are your favorite pros and cons of flatbed trucking? Let us know in the comments section.