As a trucker, you’ve got plenty of variety in the types of trailers and freight you can use your rig to haul. There is your traditional dry van trailer, reefer units, double decker car haulers, conestoga trailers, and different variations of flat beds. For the purpose of this article, we’re going to stick to the advantages and disadvantages of flat bedding.
For those that are unfamiliar, flatbedding is the shipment of freight via a flat bed trailer; open and exposed to the elements. It is typically used to transport over-sized items that would not otherwise fit in a traditional trailer and to transport goods that need to be quickly loaded and unloaded. For freight that is sensitive to the elements, or loose enough to fall out, a tarp can be draped over the shipment. Heavy duty container straps should always be used for holding down the shipment to prevent sliding and shifting. Some flatbeds are attached to the tractor chassis and are dedicated to flatbedding while others are modular and can be attached to any tractor willing to haul it. The financial benefits of flatbedding are significant: drivers can make up to 20-30% more per mile with flat beds. It doesn’t come without its risks though. You have the initial costs of purchasing a new trailer. There is the additional training required to master driving and loading an open trailer; there isn’t any formal education required to drive a flatbed, but it is still a good idea to go through an instructional course or shadow an experienced driver. Until you’ve built up a steady clientelle, there is always the risk of deadheading (deadheading is driving without freight.) The video below is a quick walkthrough of unloading a flatbed trailer:
Ok, so maybe it isn’t that easy, but like all things, you should pick a style of trucking that suits your skill set best. If you aren’t comfortable with the risks don’t take the plunge just yet. Like anything else, do your research and create a smart, long-term business plan for yourself. Don’t spend all your money on those shiny trucker accessories.