The Basics


Imagine your business gets an order for an item you have been producing for years, but this time it’s three inches wider than usual. You charge a little bit more to produce the item, and then you call your usual trucking company and ask that they pick up the product and deliver it to your customer. But when the truck arrives, the driver refuses to take the load. “It’s a wide load,” he says. You call another company, provide the dimensions, and request a rate, which ends up being $1,500 more than your usual rate, plus they can’t pick it up for another week— when the heavy-haul driver will be available.

This scenario is all too common and can cause significant problems for businesses shipping via flatbed. You can avoid such surprises by following a few simple guidelines.

When procuring a rate quote, always give exact measurements to your trucking company. One extra inch in width, length, or height can mean thousands of dollars in additional transportation costs. And communicating the exact weight is just as important.

Become familiar with “legal” dimensions. The more you know, the less likely you will be surprised by high transportation costs. For a flatbed, a legal load must not exceed these values: 8’6” high, 8’6” wide, and 48’ long (although some overhang is acceptable in most states sans permitting). As for weight, 45,000 pounds is a good limit to use. Many flatbeds can haul more weight legally, but these are not as common.

Incorporate your knowledge of legal dimensions into your product design. If you have the freedom to modify your design to keep it within legal transportation dimensions, it could result in significant transportation savings. Such knowledge could also give you an edge over your competition by enabling you to beat their price through these savings.

Find a reliable and reputable logistics and/or trucking company to help you. A transportation company with an experienced staff can (1) take your dimensions and give you a quote early in the design process, (2) answer any of your dimensional questions, and (3) let you know how easy it will be to move your product once it is completed.

Understanding the basics of shipping legal flatbed loads will save you time and money and just might give you the edge you need to beat out your competitors.

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