Flatbed trailers are very unique in that they offer the ability for materials to be loaded from the sides and top. Traditional enclosed trailers, by contrast, can only be loaded and unloaded from the back, and all goods are restrained to the size of the trailer itself.
Because of the nature of the shape and structure of an enclosed trailer, there are certain types of loads that simply can’t be shipped in them. Enter the flatbed, which provides a much more flexible structure on which to transport goods that are easier to load from the side or top using heavy machinery, and that don’t require protection from the elements outside.
If you are wondering about what else a flatbed trailer can do, follow our flatbed commodities list below.
What Do Flatbed Trailers Carry?
A flatbed trailer is very versatile. It can carry traditional cargo as well as non-traditional cargo that is big and bulky. The latter is what flatbed trailers were built for, though.
Items that are too heavy to load by hand or small machinery and are too large to be loaded horizontally can easily fit on a flatbed trailer. Large cranes can load materials from the top-down onto a flatbed trailer with ease.
Since there is no roof on flatbed trailers, there is a wider range of things that can be shipped on it as well. While the cargo will obviously have to be able to be driven under overpasses and within highway lanes safely, there is more wiggle room in terms of height and width with flatbed trailers.
Here are some of the main cargo that flatbed trailers carry.
Transporting Building and Construction Materials
Construction projects require a lot of materials and heavy equipment. These materials need to be shipped from supply houses to the job site, and one of the best ways to do so is on a flatbed trailer.
Materials such as steel frames, I-Beams, piping, lumber, bricks and more materials can withstand the outside elements. They’re also much easier to load via crane from the top.
In addition, heavy equipment that is used on construction sites can be transported on flatbed trailers. This includes cranes, backhoes and bobcats, to name a few.
Scrap Metal, Tires and Recyclables
Some construction projects involve demolition of existing structures. In this case, there will be a lot of materials that will be taken away from the site and recycled for future use.
Again, flatbed trailers are the perfect vehicle to carry this material, because it can be loaded using heavy machinery right at the construction site. Whether it’s scrap metal, bricks or concrete, they can be loaded onto a flatbed trailer and taken away.
Old tires and other recyclable materials are also often transported via flatbed trailer, as long as the materials can be properly secured. Plastic bottles, for example, wouldn’t be a good fit for a flatbed trailer.
Refrigerated Trailers (Reefers)
Refrigerated trailers, also known as reefers in the industry, are special vehicles that are able to transport goods that are sensitive to temperature. This can be goods that need to be kept at a certain cool temperature, such as pharmaceuticals or frozen goods, or at a warmer temperature.
Refrigerated trailers typically have their own power system that will maintain a consistent temperature inside, which is also helped along by extra insulation. These trailers are significantly different than flatbed trailers, which are open at the sides and top.
The cargo that is transported on a flatbed trailer is not sensitive to temperature, which is why those vehicles are not considered reefers.
Various Oversize Load Usage
As touched on before, flatbed trailers are beneficial for oversize loads. Not all cargo can fit neatly into boxes that can stack inside a typical enclosed trailer. Some cargo is too long, too wide and too tall to do so.
In these cases, flatbed trailers are the only option. These vehicles can be used to haul military equipment such as tanks, aviation equipment such as planes or parts, and even pre-fabricated homes.
Some flatbed trailers are equipped with “wide load” signs to warn other drivers on the road that the cargo sticks out wider than a normal truck. This is only possible, of course, if you have a flatbed trailer.
Some landscaping materials are simply too large to fit into enclosed trailers. Since flatbeds can range in length between 10 and 20 feet, they are the perfect way to transport landscaping materials such as mature trees.
In addition to plants that are going to be used in a landscaping project, flatbed trailers can help transport the other materials and even heavy equipment that will be used at the site. Again, traditional enclosed trailers just won’t get the job done for this type of cargo.
Moving Agricultural Equipment and Goods
Bales of hay, heavy seeding and harvesting equipment, and large irrigation systems are necessary to keep agricultural operations running. Without the use of flatbed trailers, it would be next to impossible to transport any of these goods in an assembled form.
The structure of the flatbed trailer makes it possible for this equipment to be assembled off-site and then transported to the country’s farms for almost immediate use.
Flatbed trailers can also be used to transport agriculture goods such as seed and soil, and even animals such as horses, cows and pigs.
Transport of Oil and Gas Rigs
The booming oil and gas industry has resulted in multiple projects at dig sites throughout the country. In order to transport the rigs that are necessary to capture the oil and gas materials out of the earth, flatbed trailers are required.
Flatbeds provide the opportunity to secure pieces of expensive, sensitive and heavy equipment in one load, without any concern for the condition of the materials at the end destination. Flatbed trailers enable companies in the oil and gas industry to constantly expand and change course if they need to break down, transport and build up rigs at different sites in quick succession.