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Using a Flatbed Trailer

Vintage Flatbed Truck

Arranging a flatbed trailer may seem like a simple thing to do; however, it can turn into a nightmare if the correct information is not given to your carrier. There are a number of different types of trailers available and rates vary depending on the type of trailer you need. The following are a few of the basics... in communicating with your carrier as well as anyone else involved in handling your materials; such as general contractors, riggers and clients:Dimensions: Give the carrier the dimensions of each piece you are shipping - In inches - Length x Width x Height. This will help determine if a Standard Flatbed (48'L x 102"W with air ride suspension (least cost) can be used.

1. Should the height be over 112" then your carrier will have to arrange a Drop Frame Flatbed air ride trailer. If the width is over 102" then the carrier may need a permit to carrier the extra wide piece. The deck (area over the driver wheels of the tractor) of a Drop Frame Flatbed Trailer will be approximately 12 feet long. This means that the length of the bed of the trailer (which can handle the higher piece) will be 36 feet long. If the width is greater than 102" then the issue of permits comes into play again. The next type of trailer that can handle a greater height piece is a Double Drop Flatbed air ride trailer. Again the area of the bed is shortened to about 26 feet because the areas over the wheels can only handle lesser heights.

2.   Permits: Permits are required when pieces are over legal Heights, Widths and Lengths. Permits may require escort vehicles both front and rear. There may be a requirement for following a pre-determined route due to the extra height not allowing the vehicle to go under bridges. Due to the size of a piece, the permit may require traveling only during day time hours. Depending on the need, the permits will increase the costs for shipping.

3.   Tarps: Tarping a load requires skill to be able to cover and protect a piece on the trailer. Tarping will increase the costs. The carrier needs to know dimensions so that they can provide adequate tarps to protect your equipment.

4.   Scheduling: As you can see; the carrier needs to know a lot of information to be able to provide you with proper scheduling and costs. Be willing to work hard with your carrier to provide what is needed and you will not miss a show or your budget.

5.   Loading & Unloading equipment: The dimensions and weights must be communicated to the General Contractor of the show so that they will have the proper equipment available to unload and reload your equipment. If you are shipping from the show directly to a customer; be sure the customer will have the proper equipment to unload when the truck arrives. This will keep costs under control as all the players will be working from the same playbook of information.

Communication is the key to proper planning and cost controls. Plan to succeed and you will!