A semi-trailer truck is not always the best option for distributing freight, particularly when the cargo is not a straightforward fit into a closed trailer. Fortunately, flatbed trucking represents a solution for a wide variety of less-conventional over-the-road shipping needs. Flatbed trucks have long, uncovered horizontal beds that can accommodate large, heavy or uniquely shaped products and raw materials.
For those needing to ship those kinds of items, it is crucial to find a flatbed provider with the background and skills to manage their particular type of cargo. A seasoned 3PL such as Star Distribution Systems, which offers flatbed service as part of its extensive transportation services in Florida, can ensure your delivery receives the care and attention it deserves.
Here are some of the key characteristics of flatbed trucking and how to determine if it might be right for your shipping needs.
Flatbed trucks typically transport items that can be exposed to the elements en route or that can be sufficiently protected by a tarp. Although flatbed trucks sometimes transport items packed in pallets, they often are loaded with raw materials or products that do not fit in a pallet. Flatbed trucks’ open nature makes them the best – and often only – option for transporting large items of unconventional size or shape that would not fit easily or at all through the door of a typical trailer. Flatbed trailers are made of different kinds of materials, including aluminum, steel, and composite, and they can include additions such as curtain-sided walls, extendable decks, and multilevel decks.
Common types of cargo
Flatbed trucks are used to carry materials for a variety of industries. Some of the most common items include lumber, bricks, scaffolding, steel, metal racking, flooring materials, automobiles, heating and cooling equipment, and construction, agricultural and manufacturing equipment ranging from backhoes to conveyors and tractors. Flatbed trailers are built with durability as a primary characteristic. There are different styles of flatbeds for different types of cargo. Items are stored and secured on flatbeds using a variety of tools, such as chains and binders, straps and tarps.
Convenience and efficiency
Because flatbed trucks offer larger storage space than semi-trailer trucks, they have higher capacity to carry larger loads. That means shippers can transport materials using fewer trips, helping to increase efficiency and save both time and money. Flatbeds offer convenience because items can be loaded or unloaded on either the sides or rear of the flatbed using tools such a crane, winch or forklift. This can cut down on the loading and unloading time on either end of the materials’ journey. It is essential to work with providers who have the training and access to equipment to manage that loading and unloading process to ensure it goes smoothly.
Finding the right partner
Flatbed shipping can be complex and requires the expertise of an experienced partner. A 3PL provider such as Star has the relationships, experience and access to reliable drivers to make sure your deliveries are made safely, securely, on time and at the best possible rate. Star specializes in inbound Florida transportation, and offers not only flatbed service but truckload moves, expedited service with team drivers, refrigerated and frozen options and dry van transportation. All of Star’s carriers are highly vetted, insured and ELD compliant. A 3PL such Star that has access to a variety of transportation options can determine which mode is best for your particular cargo and tailor their solutions to fit your needs.