The Challenges And Benefits Of Flatbed Trucking
Flatbed trucking is a transportation service designed to carry oversized items on a flat, open bed. The service is ideal for items that can’t be easily loaded into a van, like long pipes, vehicles, or large machines, and customers choose flatbed trucking for its versatility in accommodating all kinds of loads. Drivers of flatbed trucks generally get a higher rate of pay than other types of truckers because of the skills they need to develop to keep their loads properly secure. Flatbed trucking is a challenging but often rewarding career that benefits the customer as well as the driver.
Common Uses Of Flatbed Trucking
Many different industries make use of flatbed trucking because of its flexibility. Anyone who needs to ship items that are wider, longer, taller, or heavier than a closed container depends on flatbed trucking. Some common uses for the service include hauling construction materials, farm equipment, scrap metal, and military machinery. Shipping containers are also usually transported by flatbed truck to the dock where they will be loaded onto a cargo ship.
Challenges Of Flatbed Trucking
Driving a flatbed truck is a challenging career that requires a high level of skill. Because the trailer is open, there is a higher risk that items can fall off. In addition, drivers must be very skillful to maneuver oversized loads through heavy traffic, around curves, and up and down hills.
Making Sure The Cargo Is Secure
Unlike regular truck drivers who have little involvement in the loading and unloading process, flatbed truck drivers are responsible for making sure their load is secure. Flatbed cargo is secured by webbed nylon straps that are tightened with a winch. These soft straps are designed to protect the cargo, and they also are padded to keep them from being torn or abraded by sharp edges. For steel cargo, like steel pipes or heavy equipment, thick steel chains are used to hold it in place. The chain is looped around rails on each side of the trailer and secured with a chain binder. If cargo is not well secured, the driver and the cargo are at a high risk of an accident.
Tarping A Load For Weather Protection
In order to protect cargo from rain, hail, ice, and other weather conditions, the driver may need to put a tarp over the goods. This is one of the most dangerous tasks a flatbed truck driver is called upon to do, since the tarp itself is very heavy (as much as 80 pounds) and the load may be high off the ground. Combining those factors with weather conditions like rain, high winds, or ice, makes the procedure very risky. The tarp should be placed by a forklift, but drivers may end up on top of the cargo to arrange it properly over the goods. This is the dangerous part of the job, since a fall from the top of a loaded bed can cause a serious injury. Once the tarp is placed, then the driver must secure the four corners and then tie it down along the sides.
Maneuvering An Oversized Load
Another big challenge for the driver of a flatbed truck is maneuvering an extra-wide or extra-long truck through traffic, on hills, and around curves. Drivers have to develop a strong awareness of dangers. For example, going around a sharp curve or making a sharp turn shifts a lot of weight to one axle. If any cargo shifts, the load may become unbalanced and make the truck more difficult to handle. It’s possible that a driver will need to adjust the load during a trip.
Benefits Of Flatbed Trucking
Despite the challenges of flatbed trucking, the service offers many benefits both to drivers and customers. Drivers typically earn a higher rate of pay due to their experience and expertise, and customers know that they’re getting top-quality drivers if they work with a reputable trucking company.
Benefits For Flatbed Drivers
Because flatbed truck drivers have a more demanding job, they earn on average $10,000 more than regular truckers. Truckers with flatbed loading and driving skills are also in high demand on the job market, and they are rarely if ever at a loss for work. Another benefit for drivers is the relative speed and ease of loading and unloading. Since a flatbed trailer can be accessed from all sides, a forklift operator can place the cargo directly on the bed so that the driver doesn’t have to maneuver into a loading dock. Finally, the extra labor a flatbed trucker does to tarp and secure loads gives the trucker a little more movement and exercise than regular truckers, who spend most of their working hours sitting down.
Benefits For Customers
Since drivers are paid well, they tend to stay at the same job, meaning that customers can count on getting experienced drivers to haul their cargo. Only the best drivers stay in the business, and this is a major benefit for customers who are concerned about the safety of their goods. In addition, flatbed trucking serves an important need in the trucking industry by hauling oversized or overweight items that can’t be easily or safely loaded into a closed trailer. The open bed allows customers to transport any combination of things in a single load, which can save time and money in jobs like construction, where a single shipment of equipment and materials leads to faster completion of a project.
About Corcoran Trucking
Corcoran Trucking is based in Billings, MT, and our truckers drive routes as far north as Alaska and throughout the other 48 continental states. Our drivers pull a range of flatbed trucks including standard flatbeds, goose-neck trucks, and step-deck trucks. In addition to flatbed services, we have a fleet of food-grade reefers to haul dry, cool, and frozen goods. All of our drivers are experienced and skilled in keeping their cargo safe. With over 50 years in the trucking business, we are dedicated to providing our customers with the best possible service as well as offering excellent career opportunities for talented drivers.