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Flatbed Shipping: A Complete Guide

What's in this article?
  1. What Is A Flatbed Truck?
  2. How Does A Flatbed Work?
  3. What Are Some Reasons For Using Flatbed Trucking?
  4. What Type Of Freight Are Flatbed Trucks Used For?
  5. How Do You Load A Flatbed Truck Safely?
  6. 1) Plan The Cargo Placement And Use The Right Equipment To Tie It Down
  7. 2. Take The Appropriate Precautions
  8. What Are The Benefits Of Flatbed Shipping?
  9. 1)It Allows You To Optimize Your Trips
  10. 2) You Need To Worry About Loading Dock Restrictions
  11. 3) It's A Flexible Shipping Method
  12. What Type Of Flatbed Trailer Is Best To Use?
  13. Double Drop
  14. Step Deck
  15. Tilt Bed
  16. Straight Bed
  17. How Do I Choose A Reliable Flatbed Shipping Company?
Flatbed Shipping: A Complete Guide

The flatbed truck has a bed that extends across its entire length. This allows the driver to load or unload goods without climbing into the vehicle's back.

Flatbed trucks are versatile and efficient. They allow drivers to move loads quickly and safely.

What Is a Flatbed Truck?

A flatbed truck doesn't have a roof or sides like conventional trucks. Instead, it has a flat body that extends outwards from the vehicle's front, rear, and sides.

This makes it possible to load cargo onto the bed without having to lift it into place manually.

The unique design of a flatbed allows forklift operators to maneuver around the vehicle and access cargo from any direction.

As a result, flatbed trucks are often used for transporting oversized loads. These include a wide range of cargo such as pallets, containers, trailers, and shipping crates.

How Does a Flatbed Work?

When you drive up to a loading dock, you'll notice there's usually an area where the ground drops away. This is called a ramp.

It's designed to make getting your cargo loaded onto the truck easier.

You drive up the ramp and lower the tailgate to use a flatbed truck.

Then, you can either roll the cargo off the trailer or pull it off using a crane. Once the shipment is unloaded, you raise the tailgate and drive away.


What Are Some Reasons for Using Flatbed Trucking?

There are several reasons. Here are just some of them:

  • Flatbeds are more stable than other types of vehicles. They don't tip over as easily as other trucks. This can be an advantage if you're loading heavy items on your flatbed.
  • They're easier to drive. Flatbeds are much smaller than other trucks, requiring less room in parking lots and freeways. You'll also find fewer restrictions when driving on narrow streets.
  • You can load larger objects on a flatbed than you could with a regular truck. For example, you might need to transport a large piece of equipment that would otherwise be too big to fit inside a standard truck.
  • Flatbeds can carry heavier loads than other types of trucks. Because they don't have a roof, they can hold more weight.

What Type of Freight Are Flatbed Trucks Used for?

Here are some types of freight typically transported by flatbed truck:

  • Transporting heavy machinery and specialized equipment, such as cranes, bulldozers, and excavators.
  • Moving large pieces of furniture, including beds, sofas, household appliances ('white goods'), tables, and chairs.
  • Loading and unloading shipping crates.
  • Moving large construction equipment, such as dumpsters, backhoes, and tractors.
  • Carrying bulky cargo such as boxes, barrels, and pallets.
  • Moving large vehicles, such as cars, vans, and motorcycles.
  • Moving heavier items, like pianos, boats, RVs, and even entire houses.

How Do You Load a Flatbed Truck Safely?

Here is a step-by-step of how to load a flatbed truck safely.

1) Plan the cargo placement and use the right equipment to tie it down.

After loading and distributing the cargo safely and evenly, determine how many tie-downs are needed and where each should go, according to the FMCSA cargo securement rules.

A cargo securement rule provides guidelines for securing loads over 30 feet long and/or weighing more than 40 pounds. These rules apply to all commercial vehicles, including trucks, tractor trailers, buses, vans, and rail cars.

According to the FMCSA, you'll need at least one tie-down for every ten feet of cargo and no less than one tie-down per foot of width. If you want to use multiple tie-downs along the trailer length, ensure they're spaced far enough to properly distribute the cargo load.

This will help ensure damage-free delivery.

You should also factor in the maximum working load limit of the tie-down equipment, chain, and tie-down strap. The load limit should be no more than half of the total cargo weight and be marked on the vehicle.

You can check the limits online or on the manufacturer's manual.


2. Take the appropriate precautions.

Flatbed truckers must exercise caution when loading and unloading cargo onto and off trucks. This includes ensuring that cargo is secured correctly and loaded and that no one gets hurt.

Drivers must also be aware of potential hazards, such as obstructions and narrow ledges, that might lead to injury.

To prevent accidents and life-threatening situations, drivers must follow specific rules and regulations when loading, securing, and unloading cargo.

For example, they should ensure that the cargo is secured correctly and that no loose items are lying around.

They should also ensure that people aren't walking near the trailer when it is being moved. These steps help keep everyone safe.

When handling cargo, drivers should always wear appropriate gear, including boots, gloves, and eye protection.

If possible, they should also use anti-fatigue mats under the load to protect themselves from slipping and falling.

Lastly, drivers should ensure that their employees know how to load and secure cargo safely. This includes making sure that they are following the same procedures that they do every day.

What are the Benefits of Flatbed Shipping?

Here are a few benefits of using flatbed shipping.

1)It allows you to optimize your trips.

Flatbed trailers are great because they allow you to haul large amounts of material in one trip. This saves you time and money.

But flatbeds aren't just limited to transporting regular commercial goods; they can also help you transport odd shapes like furniture, appliances, and even vehicles.


2) You need to worry about loading dock restrictions.

Flatbed trucks are ideal for deliveries because they don't require a loading dock. This allows you to reach locations that aren't easily accessible, such as industrial parks, warehouses, and apartment complexes.

You can even use a truck to deliver packages within a neighborhood. A key benefit of using a flatbed truck is that it doesn't require a ramp or loading dock.

This makes it easy to access areas without room for a vehicle to pull up.

3) It's a flexible shipping method.

A flatbed truck's design lets you load cargo from all directions. This makes it easy to transport heavy materials like machinery and equipment used in the construction industry.

Flatbed trucks are also great for hauling heavy loads because there's no need to lift items into the bed. Instead, workers place the item onto the floor of the truck bed.

What Type of Flatbed Trailer is Best to Use?

There are many different flatbed trailer types available. While some are adaptable enough to carry virtually any kind of weight, some are constructed solely to transport a particular type of cargo.

It is helpful to understand how each one operates before deciding which option is best for your requirements. This section will examine some of the most popular kinds of flatbed trucks.

Double drop

This type of flatbed features two parallel decks, each capable of carrying up to six tons. This allows you to load heavy equipment like tractors, trailers, concrete mixers, and dumpsters.

Step deck

A step deck is similar to a double drop, except it has three levels instead of two. They typically hold up to seven tons of goods, making them ideal for shipping large machinery such as forklifts, generators, and bulldozers.

Tilt bed

These flatbeds feature a tilt bed design that allows you to maneuver your cargo into place easily. Tilt beds are usually used for transporting vehicles, parts, and equipment.

Straight bed

The straight bed is the simplest type of flatbed truck. Typically, the bed is either level or slightly tilted forward. This type of flatbed is best for hauling small items like furniture and appliances.


How Do I Choose a Reliable flatbed Shipping Company?

When choosing a flatbed shipping company, it's essential to look at several factors, including safety, insurance, and customer service.

You first want to check whether the company offers 24/7 emergency services. The driver will be available to answer questions and handle any issues if something goes wrong during delivery.

You'll also want to consider the amount of experience the company has had delivering shipments. If the company has been around for years, this shows that they have a good track record of providing quality service.

At A1 auto transport, we offer competitive rates and top-notch customer service. We work hard to ensure that all our customers get the highest service possible.

Our drivers are professional, courteous, and experienced. To learn more about how we can assist your business, contact us today.

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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.

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A-1 Auto Transport is a disclosed agent for the following shipping companies:

Trans Global Auto Logistics, Inc.
3401 E Randol Mill Rd
Arlington, TX 76011
NO. 018191NF
CFR Rinkens
15501 Texaco Avenue
Paramount, CA 90723
NO. 013055NF
ABC Worldwide LLC
2840 NW 2nd Ave #105
Boca Raton, FL 33431
NO. 025472F
CSI Logistics
435 Division Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
Intl Cargo
45 Campus Drive
Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
ShipYourCarNow LLC
1160 South Rogers Circle Suite 1
Boca Raton, FL 33487
NO. 025646
Merco Air & Ocean Cargo, Inc.
6 Fir Way
Cooper City, FL 33026
NO. 021869F
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