What to Consider When Choosing Dry Van Trucking
If you've ever looked for dry van trucking, whether to hire the services of a company or buy a vehicle for your business, then you know that things can get confusing pretty soon. With so many types of available trailers out there, figuring out what you need can be difficult. Not to mention that your requirements can change from one transport to another and what worked for you once may not work again.
So, here's what you need to know when looking for dry van transport.
An Introduction to Trailer Types
Before learning how to choose the right dry van for your needs, let's take a look at what it does and how it compares to other transportation solutions.
If you are new to the hauling industry and everything looks the same to you, then this short description should give you a better idea of what type of trailer you will need for your freight.
Flatbed trucking is the most common type of freight trailer. It's a versatile and reliable solution that can suit most of your needs. And it's easy to see why by looking at its construction: this open platform allows you to tie up large or odd-shaped cargo and transport it safely.
Its construction can also be a be a downside as you always need to ensure the cargo is secured properly.
The great thing about flatbed trailers is that you can transport almost anything from water pipes to lumber or crates. You can also adjust the dimensions of your cargo if needed as long as you respect the regulations.
Another great advantage of flatbed shipping is that loading and unloading them is considerably easier than with other trailers. Due to its design - open at the top and sides - you can easily maneuver the cargo by using cranes, forklifts and other equipment.
Dry Van Trailers
As its name suggests, a dry van trailer is designed to protect the cargo from the weather and other external factors, keeping it dry and untouched by the elements. It looks like nothing more than a box mounted on a platform, but don't let its simple construction fool you. It's waterproof and wind resistant, and it will protect your cargo from dust and debris. So, if you have to ship products or materials that are water sensitive, then dry van trucking is the perfect option.
Dry vans are typically loaded and unloaded through the rear, with a forklift or other machinery. You can also load some dry trailers through the side, but they are an exception. Dry vans come in different sizes, so you need to ensure that your cargo fits their base and don't weigh too much since this type of trailer weighs more than a flatbed.
Dry van shipping is ideal for cargo like clothing, produce, electronics, paper-based products, and so on.
If your cargo isn't only weather-sensitive, but also perishable, then you need a refrigerated trailer. Mainly used in the food and pharmaceutical industries, this shipping solution maintains the temperature inside the trailer constant regardless of the weather conditions. They are more expensive and weigh more than other types of trailers, but they are highly specialized and crucial for their purpose.
If you are transporting cargo that is taller than the legal limit, you will need a lowboy trailer to move it around. This type of container has a very low platform that is sustained by wheels at the ends so that it can accommodate tall freight.
Because this shipping solution is usually used for heavy freight, it requires special permits. Not to mention, you will need to reinforce their structure with additional axles.
Removable gooseneck trailers are ideal for bulky and heavy loads, such as ships and aviation, water pipes, and other industrial equipment and machinery. The operator can create a ramp by dropping the front of the trailer on the ground.
RNG trailers can carry massive loads as well as fit long pieces. Similar to a lowboy, extra axles are necessary for stability and strength.
That was only a short introduction to help you differentiate between the most commonly used type of trailers. If you decide that dry van shipping is indeed what you need, here are some things to keep in mind.
Choosing Between a Dry Gan and a Flatbed Trailer
For a lot of cargo types, the choice is quite clear. But in some cases, it can be difficult to tell what shipping solution fits your needs best as different types of trailers seem to meet the requirements.
Remember that some goods are weather sensitive and must be protected from the elements. The same easy decision is to be made when the cargo has unusual measurements and would go beyond a dry van.
Loading is also an essential factor to keep in mind if you want the logistics to run smooth. Flatbeds might seem the obvious option here, but it all comes down to the type of cargo you need to ship.
Choosing Between a Dry Van and a Refrigerated Trailer
These shipping solutions offer similar features at first sight, but as with most things in life, the devil is in the details.
If you can't keep the temperature inside the dry van at a constant value, then you should opt for a refrigerator trailer. The same goes for cargo that needs to be kept at high temperatures. Either way, make sure that the shipping solution you choose comes with temperature regulating function and isolation against the difference of temperature outside. They are more expensive than other available services, but they are essential if you want to transport your cargo to your destination safely.
So, you have decided that a dry van trailer is the way to go. Your merchandise isn't perishable, but it does require protection from the elements. Now the question is: how can you tell the dry van trailer will meet all your needs and requirements? Here are some tips.
Choose Something That Is Reliable
If you are considering purchasing a truck trailer, then you need to know that it should be a long-term investment that needs to last for decades. Know what you need, invest in its maintenance and avoid picking the cheapest trailer you find, since it can cost you more in the long-term.
The same goes when renting one or working with a transportation company.
Always look for a dry van with high-quality materials, a solid floor that can take the weight of your freight and a resistant carcass. Keep updated with the newest technological updates and features, because it will end up saving you money, even if the initial price is bigger than with other options.
Choose the Proper Size
Estimate the volume and weight of your typical cargo. Get a dry van trailer that can transport what you need and a little more extra. You never know. Also, remember that loading and unloading the van will add extra pressure on the flooring. The bottom line is that you need to have the certainty that you won't overload the van and cause expensive damage. Not to mention the losses that come from having rented a trailer that doesn't meet your needs.
Consider Getting Two Trailers
Maybe renting one trailer puts a strain on your budget, but give this idea a thought. The main argument in having two trailers instead of one is that you can apply the “drop and hook” method, where you drop off the entire container and then switch it for an empty one.
If this system would suit your business, then you should go for it. Do you need to save time with the loading and unloading of your freight? Do you need to transport goods between locations? Then you can move everything around without having to wait for the trailer to be unloaded and loaded again for the next shipment.
Use intermodal containers that you can store on the ground and use on ships, extending the possibility to transport cargo at greater distances.
Always Keep the Law and Regulations in Mind
One essential step in your research that you mustn't overlook is ensuring that you will always be complying with the regulations of the states you are crossing. These can vary slightly, and it would be a huge waste of time and resources if the authorities would stop your transport for exceeding the legal limitations.
The most important step in choosing a trailer that will optimize your dry van transport is to know what you need. Good luck in finding the one that will make your business more efficient and your job more pleasant.
Written By:Joe Webster
Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing.
After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood.
With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.