Everything You Need to Know Before Working with a Flatbed Trucking Company
You may not be entirely aware of it, but flatbed trucking has an essential role to play in our society. It’s not just about moving some things from point A to point B; flatbed trucking companies have a say in a variety of industries since they handle extremely large cargos.
There are roughly 1.2 million trucking companies in the United States, operating an estimate of 15.5 million trucks. The numbers point to a wide variety of options for you when you’re faced with the issue of transporting large cargo. However, not everyone will be able to handle the job.
If you’re in need of flatbed transport, here’s everything you need to know before you make a decision.
What’s a Flatbed Truck?
Simply put, a flatbed truck is a vehicle with a platform for a body. The body in question is entirely flat, with no sides or roof, which allow goods to be quickly loaded and unloaded.
Flatbed shipping is commonly used to transport very heavy cargo that isn’t too delicate or vulnerable to the elements, such as rain or snow, though you could easily protect your goods with the right extra equipment. Moreover, flatbed transport is the perfect option for cargo that is abnormally sized or shaped, making it unable to fit properly into other types of trucks.
Flatbed trucks generally transport large cargos of lumber, machinery, cars, or even airplane wings.
There’s a misconception about flatbed shipping regarding safety. Somehow, it’s seen as a less safe way of transporting goods, possibly because at first sight, the cargo seems to be out in the open. It couldn’t be farther from the truth, and here’s why.
In reality, your cargo will be safe and secured with steel chains, high-strength bungee straps, or other accessories that best fit the load. Moreover, if your cargo is delicate, so to speak, it can be covered with vinyl or tarps during the transport to ensure safe delivery of your goods. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration even has a set of regulation for cargo securement you can check.
Common Flatbed Uses
As we said, flatbeds are quite common in the transportation of a wide variety of cargos from different industries, which makes them some of the most used types of trucks in the country. It’s important to understand the uses of flatbed trucks to assess whether it’s the right vehicle you need.
Here are some of the most common uses:
When a tire’s run its course, it’s collected and, along with hundreds of others of its kind, put into a tire bale, a compressed group of tire banded together with wire. To put that into perspective, most tire bales weight roughly 1 ton. Shipping these massive bales can be a problem without the help of reliable flatbed trucking companies.
Anything that can be used in a construction site can be transported with a flatbed truck: lumber, scaffolding, bricks, concrete, steel beams, rods, or whatever else you need to be carried.
While there are other means to ship materials to a construction site, consider the fact that with a flatbed truck, it’s easier to load and unload them, which in the end saves time if you use a crane to unload the cargo. Plus, beams and rods don’t even have to fit the flatbed completely. You’ve probably seen how some of them hang from the edge of the truck and still make it to their destination.
Scraps and Removals
So, you don’t need to move anything, but maybe you have some scrap, and you have to get rid of it. Flatbed trucks are very handy because you can use them to remove scrap metal and other stuff you don’t need on location and have it transported to a recycling facility.
In other instances, you could use these trucks to transport big pieces of equipment from one place to another. Farm equipment, military equipment, cars, and other large cargo can be easily carried using a flatbed.
Sand, fertilizers, grains, peanuts and other similar things are generally packed in large industrial fabrics (called super sacks) and transported with trucks. It’s a lot easier to do it with a flatbed because the sack can be quickly loaded on the truck body using the loops on the bag to lift it. Then, all you need to do is lower it on the truck body and secure it.
Things to Consider before Working with a Flatbed Company
So far, we’ve talked about the uses for a flatbed, but before you go and make any calls, it’s important to take a look at what you need first.
There’s a lot of different flatbed trucking companies out there that roughly offer the same services, but take it from us: not everyone can handle the same jobs. Some don’t have the equipment and accessories; others lack the proper workforce to do the job. In any case, you need to know these things.
Here are a few tips on what to consider when looking for a flatbed shipping company:
What’s the Cargo?
As you can see, there are many different types of materials that you can transport with a flatbed truck, but is it the right truck for you?
If what you need to move is extremely large and doesn’t fit in a different truck, then go ahead and make the call to a flatbed company. But, keep in mind that different materials need different accessories, so the company must have the right one for yours. If they don’t, then it’s best to keep looking.
What’s the Value?
Yes, it’s a secure way to transport goods, but it still means you should check if the trucking company has the proper insurance, particularly if what you’re transporting is valuable.
Insurance doesn’t protect the company in case of a mishap alone; it can also protect you if your goods are damaged during transport.
What’s the Size?
Consider this: while it’s perfectly okay if your cargo is slightly hanging from the edge of the truck, you always want to avoid overweighting the truck, or having your goods hang too much from its sides.
That puts everyone in danger. You’ll either need to split your cargo into multiple trips or turn to an alternative means of transportation.
What Else Do You Need?
The company doesn’t provide only the trucks and the drivers; it should also offer a wide variety of different accessories vital to shipping cargo, loading and unloading it.
That should also be on your list of criteria when choosing flatbed trucking companies. Some might have the workforce to load and unload your packages or have the right equipment to secure the cargo. Other may not, and are the ones you shouldn't consider hiring at all.
These are only the basics, and it’s possible your transport needs will bring up other questions in the process. However, it’s vital to think about them if you want to find a proper company that can handle your transportation needs.
What to Discuss with the Flatbed Trucking Company
Before the actual transport takes place, we recommend you discuss a few things with the company you’re hiring:
- Company history in the industry: this includes years of experience, reputation, and even some referrals through which you can know a bit more about the company you what to give your money to;
- Driver information: you have the right to know if the person who will be driving the truck is a trusted employee, has a criminal record, past DUIs, or other issues that may have a negative impact on their performance. We get that it may be uncomfortable to ask these questions, but it’s necessary;
- Their expertise: you don’t have to be a trucking expert, but you should be able to rely on the knowledge and experience of the company you’re hiring. Don’t be afraid to ask them for recommendations regarding your cargo transport.
- Cost estimate: any company will first give you an estimate of what the entire moving process will cost. Be on the lookout for any hidden fees to avoid any unpleasant surprises when you receive the final bill.
Hire a Reliable Team
So, you need to hire a flatbed trucking company, and you need to do it now. While the perfect team doesn’t exist, you can get pretty close to one as long as you do your homework.
At A-1 Auto Transport, we have all it takes to do precisely that: decades of experienced, the best flatbed trucks, the right equipment, and a team of trained drivers and auxiliary staff to give you a hand and get the cargo safely to any destination.
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.