What is Flatbed Trucking and Why is it Common in Heavy Equipment Towing?

What is Flatbed Trucking and Why is it Common in Heavy Equipment Towing?

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Francisca Olive / September 2022

As the name flatbed trucking suggests, a flatbed trailer has no roofs or sidewalls. Instead, the vehicle has a robust flatbed trailer for transport, usually with a layer of wooden material to cover the spaces between the trailer frames. Flatbed trailers come in different shapes and sizes designed for various trucking jobs. From the federal bridge weight formula, a standard flatbed of length 48 feet and width 8.5 feet (without outriggers) has a maximum weight capacity of 48,000 lbs. and a limit of 8,5 ft. load height.

Flatbed trucking is the most common type in the heavy equipment towing industry. This is because of the versatility and the availability of a large pool of flatbed trailer types. Also, loading and unloading of flatbeds are much easier and faster and can be done from any side. A Removable Gooseneck is a common type of flatbed that has a removable neck that can be used as a ramp for easier and safer loading. Step decks and double drops are flatbed trailers ideal for moving over height loads up to 10 ft. 2 in. Another variation of a flatbed is a stretch trailer, which is suitable for trucking extra-long loads.

Particular Skills a Flatbed Trucking and Towing Driver Needs

A propane truck transported on a flatbed trailer.

Flatbed trailers have no walls to secure the loads firmly. For safe delivery with a flatbed, a driver needs a particular skill-set, which includes;

Tarping: Ideally, flatbeds are designed for trucking oversize loads that are not vulnerable to environmental changes such as scorching sun and heavy downpours. Having said that, there are circumstances where drivers need to cover the load. For instance, a customer may request for privacy while moving the load. As such, the driver will be required to hand tarp or use the available tarp system to cover the load before leaving the pickup point.

Quick and Efficient Load Securement; The time spent loading and securing cargo has a significant impact on the overall annual mileage that a driver covers. So, the quicker the load is secured, the faster the truck leaves the pickup point. Also, the absence of sidewalls requires a driver to ensure that the load is adequately secured to avoid weight shifting or back and forth wobbling of the cargo while towing. The driver needs to know the protocol to follow and the down downs of the straps and chains that are permitted under the safety road regulations. With such skills, the trucking process will be smooth, and the loading and unloading process will be fast and safe.

Loading and unloading. Both the processes will be done by special handling equipment such as forklifts and cranes. Even though such equipment will be handled by trained operators, a driver’s skills will be required when positioning the load. Load distribution and balance are very important and have to be done right while loading. During unloading, the driver needs to ensure the process is safe, and the load is not damaged.

Shipping a Kubota tractor

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Specialized Flatbed Trailer Trucking for Heavy Cargo Moving

When a regular flatbed weight limit is reached, specialized multi-axle trailers present the most viable solution. Specialized multiple axial trailers are designed to move up to 160 tons of oversize load over a long distance. There are also dual-lane flatbed trailers that can tow up to 250-ton cargo. To carry such a load, you need a trailer with at least six-axle configuration. Other common axle configurations include; 7,8,9,10,11,13, and 20. The capacity of multiaxial trailers to tow over 200 ton of weight is derived from an equal distribution of the weight of the shipment over a large surface area created by the many wheels. What limits the trucking capacity of the multi-axle flatbed trailer is the towing power of the tractor. To avoid this limitation, multiple tractors can be used. In such a scenario, one tractor will be used to push as well as pull the trailer.

Common Heavy Equipment That Are Best Delivered by Flatbed Trailers

  • Flatbed Trailers Are Best Suited When Trucking;
  • Moving Building Supplies Like Lumber, Steel Metals, Pipes Plumbing Equipment, And Oversize Metal Sheets.
  • Equipment Hauling
  • Towing Airplane Wings
  • Any other oversized load cannot fit in an enclosed trailer due to its abnormal shape or size.
William Thomas

William Thomas

Heavy Transport Specialist

Being able to lead a team of such talented logistics agents has been a wonderful experience over the past ten years. If you would like to know anything more about the heavy equipment transport services we offer, don't hesitate to give us a call!