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flatbed freight

A Guide to Flatbed Freight Shipping and Delivery

Nathan McGuire
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May 27, 2023
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A Guide to Flatbed Freight Shipping and Delivery
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If you take a quick look around you, virtually everything you see arrived in a truck. The computers were assembled in a manufacturing plant; the desk was delivered to a wholesaler, the windows were likely prefabricated somewhere in Ohio, and that apple your coworker is eating was loaded into a reefer from Washington. But not everything fits in a 53’ dry van or reefer. Machinery, industrial equipment, pipes, steel coils, tractors, farming equipment, concrete slabs, and other large or oversized materials require flatbed trucks. Flatbed truck capacity in the United States and Canada is extremely seasonal. It is tied to the climate and national industrial trends as most construction projects are started in the warmer months of the year. Currently, flatbed capacity sourcing remains tight, especially in the ten major flatbed markets located in the United States. For companies with flatbed volume, this article provides a guide for helping to understand the flatbed truck market, offering solutions for companies looking for additional flatbed capacity for their domestic and cross-border transportation.

Understanding Flatbed Freight

As the name implies, a flatbed is a special type of trailer without walls or a ceiling that is designed to carry heavy, overdimensional, and bulky products that would otherwise not fit in a standard dry van. Depending upon the commodity being shipped, flatbeds are typically loaded from a dock using a forklift, or from the sides using a crane. A typical flatbed trailer can carry a legal maximum of 48,000 lbs. Loads are secured to the flatbed using nylon straps or chains with binders, and can be protected from the elements by being secured with tarps.

Different Types of Flatbed Trailers

Having the right equipment available is essential for securing flatbed capacity. Make sure you partner with a transportation service provider that not only specializes in flatbed shipping service, but can source and configure all trailing equipment you might need to deliver over-dimensional and specialized transportation. That includes:

  • Step Decks & Drop Decks
  • Double Drops
  • Hot-Shots
  • Removable Gooseneck
  • Open Deck
  • Conestogas
  • Extendable Flatbeds
  • Multi-Axle

The Common Commodities Shipped Using Flatbed Trailers

There’s all kinds of stuff that can be hauled using a conventional 48’ flatbed trailer. Some of the common commodities that companies used flatbeds for are:

  • Bricks, roofing shingles, and siding
  • Rebar, concrete, ceramics
  • Steel coils and prefabricated structural steel
  • Wire ropes, cables, and fiber optics
  • Limestone, marble, granite, and shale
  • Heavy machinery like boilers, furnaces, and conveyor belts
  • Wind turbines, solar panels, telephone poles
  • Houses, trucks, and cars
  • Farm equipment like tractors, and combine harvesters
  • Tubing, sewer systems, and other building material
  • Military and defense equipment like tanks, aircraft, and engines

Of course this is not a complete list, and does not consider what the industry calls specialized transport. This refers to very complex flatbed shipments that are over-dimensional, require multi-state permits, and oftentimes a convoy of logistical experts to assist in escorting and planning the routes to haul oversized transportation along highways and into local communities.

What to Look for When Choosing the Right Flatbed Carrier

Most 3PLs make promises to their customers that they can handle any logistical situation and have the carrier density available to move anything from point A to B. However, in the flatbed market, companies often struggle to source quality flatbed capacity that can deliver year round to all the lower 48 states, and cross-border into Canada and Mexico. Companies like Wicker Park Logistics, which specializes in flatbed transportation, helps connect North American suppliers through their vast carrier network that extends from Vancouver to Guadalajara. Nearly 30% of the total volume of cross-border freight carried by Wicker Park Logistics are flatbed loads, demonstrating their experience handling some of the most complex supply chains out there.

On-Demand Flatbed Capacity

Despite the persistent challenges that some companies face in sourcing a continuous volume of reliable flatbed transportation, Wicker Park Logistics offers their customers on-demand capacity sourcing throughout North America. Whether you are looking for a spot load in Pennsylvania, or have regular volume shipping from Laredo, TX to Chicago, shippers who partner with Wicker Park Logistics get access to a vast network of carefully vetted flatbed carriers that are available when you need them most.

Technological Integration

The other major problem most shippers find problematic in their daily operations is a lack of visibility over their supply chain. Late trucks lead to detention fees, missed delivery appointments, and lost opportunities to improve customer success. Therefore, it’s important to find a flatbed provider that offers customers technological solutions to provide real-time visibility and total transparency throughout the entire lifecycle in a load’s journey. With Wicker Park Logistics, customers gain access to a customizable digital portal that streamlines all communication, load notifications, and tracking and tracing into a single easy-to-use platform. This gives shippers unprecedented control over their entire supply chain, helping to improve communication and automate certain manual tasks like check calls and status updates.

Enterprise Integration

Partnering with Wicker Park Logistics also means customers can seamlessly integrate into an API-connected TMS that offers shipping managers a full range of features designed to lower their transportation costs. Using the latest technology, companies with flatbed freight can optimize their daily operations, automate certain mind-numbing tasks, improve route optimization, and improve KPIs for on-time delivery. Wicker Park Logistics also runs advanced data analytics reports to help customers maximize the efficiencies of their entire supply chain. Further, the Wicker Park Logistics’s digital portal offers customers the ability to get instant rate quotes on all their flatbed freight, whether it’s a spot load or contract rate pricing.

Wicker Park Logistics Can Cover All Your Flatbed Freight

Customers who partner with Wicker Park Logistics gain the peace of mind that their flatbed loads will be picked up on time with the right equipment, handled and secured properly, and delivered on-time and in full. Offering a range of equipment, a vast network of domestic and cross-border capable carriers for deliveries into Mexico or Canada, Wicker Park Logistics is the preferred carrier for North American shippers. With the latest technology that provides shipping managers with real-time visibility over every load in their supply chain, Wicker Park Logistics makes shipping flatbed freight easy. Get access to on-demand flatbed capacity with Wicker Park Logistics and connect with an expert today!

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