Shipping companies rely heavily on truck trailers to transport goods across cities, countries and continents. There is a wide variety of trailers available to suit different cargo types and shipment requirements. This article discusses some of the most commonly used trailer types in the trucking industry.
Dry Van Trailer
The dry van trailer is one of the most versatile and widely used trailer types. As the name suggests, it is designed to carry “dry” or non-perishable cargo that does not require temperature-controlled conditions. Common goods transported in dry van trailers include consumer goods, electronics, machinery parts, industrial equipment, building materials and more.
Dry van trailers come in varying lengths and capacities. Shorter dry vans in the 20-35 foot range are suitable for local delivery of smaller loads while longer 48-53 foot trailers can haul much heavier payloads over long distances. Insulated dry van trailers provide a protective barrier against weather extremes but no active temperature control. Cargo is loaded and unloaded from rear swing-out doors.
- Suitable for general freight without climate control needs
- Available in different lengths and load capacities
- Insulated versions offer weather protection
- Rear swing doors for easy loading and unloading
When transporting perishable food items, pharmaceuticals or other temperature-sensitive cargo, a refrigerated trailer comes into play. Often referred to as “reefer” trailers, they maintain a controlled cool environment inside through an onboard refrigeration unit. Perishable food products like meat, seafood, dairy and produce are dependent on refrigerated transportation to prevent spoilage during shipment.
Refrigerated trailers have sophisticated climate control systems and thermostats to precisely regulate the internal temperature. Insulated walls and doors help maintain an even chill. Cargo visibility and organization is enhanced with adjustable shelving, bins and racks. Fuel-efficient trailer refrigeration has lowered operating costs and extended the shelf life of temperature-controlled goods.
- Climate control system cools/warms cargo compartment
- Insulated body and doors retain desired temperatures
- Storage racks and bins maximize cargo capacity
- On-board refrigeration is independent of truck engine
When the load exceeds the height restrictions of enclosed trailers or its shape does not allow stacking, flatbeds come in handy. Their platform design allows for unconventional and oversized cargo to be safely secured for transport. Common flatbed loads include large fabricated parts, machinery, construction materials, wind turbine blades and more.
Flatbed decks come in aluminum or wood with steel substructures. Adjustable side boards and rear gates offer load containment. Bracing and tie-down points securely anchor irregular and awkward loads. Lifting devices may be integrated to facilitate loading and unloading of heavy items. Custom flatbed configurations accommodate specialty cargo dimensions and weight distributions.
- Open deck platform configuration
- Adjustable side boards and gates
- Reinforced decking and tie-down points
- Specialized applications for oversized cargo
- Integrated lifting gear for heavy loads
Shipping Companies Tank Trailer
For transporting bulk liquids like chemicals, fuel, food-grade liquids and more, tank trailers with their closed storage vessels are indispensable. Fitted with valves, fittings and piping, they allow for safe handling of fluids. Road tankers are engineered to comply with stringent safety regulations for hazardous materials transportation.
Tank construction depends on the cargo characteristics – stainless steel for foods, polymers for chemicals and specialty alloys for corrosive substances. Insulation maintains product temperatures. Loading/unloading equipment expedites cargo transfers. Electronic monitoring tracks fluid levels, pressures and temperatures during transit.
Shipping Companies Key Features:
- Enclosed cargo tank with fittings for plumbing
- Construction suited to specific cargo chemistries
- Insulation and monitoring systems
- Loading/unloading manifolds speed up fluid transfers
- Compliant with hazmat transport regulations
Specialized low profile trailers, commonly called “lowboys”, are designed to carry exceptionally heavy machinery and equipment with a very low center of gravity. Their wide and extra long beam frames facilitate moving oversized cargo that exceeds typical weight limits. Lowboys are often escorted by pilot/lead vehicles when navigating roads.
Lowboys feature extensive bracing, wider wheelbases and can spread cargo weight over additional axles. Air-ride suspension maintains safe ground clearances. Outriggers or dollies provide stability for top-heavy loads. Rear steering adjusts tight turning radii. Special permits are required due to their extreme dimensions.
- Very low profile platform with wide beams
- Multi-axle suspension to apportion heavy weights
- Outriggers bolster unstable loads
- Rear-steering handles for maneuverability
- Pilot vehicles guide oversized configuration
Shipping Companies Container Trailer
A specialized trailer for shipping standard steel intermodal containers, usually in 20-40 foot lengths, compatible with ocean-going container ships and domestic intermodal trains. Container trailers/chasses feature twistlocks at each corner to quickly secure 40′ containers for intermodal transfers. Fifth wheel mounting positions containers at the correct height for dock equipment and roadways.
Container trailers save drayage costs by shuttling containers directly between ports, rail yards and warehouses without additional handling. Well suited for long-distance international containerized freight transport. Container volumes continue rising with globalization spurring more international and domestic containerized cargo shipments.
- Designed to haul 20-40 foot intermodal containers
- Twistlocks rapidly attach/detach standard containers
- Fifth wheel positioning for intermodal transfers
- optimized for containerized cargo flows
Shipping Companies Dump Trailer
For transporting loose bulk materials like sand, gravel, soil, demolition waste or other aggregates, dump trailers with their hydraulic tipping beds are commonly deployed at construction sites. Their open cargo areas fill up quickly but dump out rapidly as well through builtin lifting and tilting hoists.
Heavy-duty chassis, hydraulic lifts and auto-tarping systems expedite unloading and reloading cycles. Integrated tarp covers keep cargo contained during transport. Efficient on-board controls minimize driver effort. Applications range from hauling landfill debris to delivering concreting supplies.
- Hydraulic platforms for rapid cargo dumping
- Protective tarpaulin sheets over exposed load beds
- Efficient controls simplify operator tasks
- Rugged build suitable for construction sites
- Speeds up loading/unloading of bulk materials
Shipping Companies Car Hauler Trailer
Specialized enclosed trailers designed to safely transport multiple vehicles in both directions. Whether shuttling new cars from factories to dealers or used vehicles between auctions and lots, car haulers efficiently reposition autos in an organized stacked arrangement. Modern multi-level car haulers increase payload capacity.
Ramps and rubber track beds facilitate smooth loading and unloading of vehicles in any order. Interior LED lighting and ventilation improves driver visibility and air circulation. Locking side ramps and rear doors secure contents during transit. GPS tracking logs trip details. Customizable interiors rearrange fast based on vehicle profiles.
|Maximize payload by stacking vehicles in levels
|Rubber ramp beds
|Prevents scratches during loading/un