Specialized shipping is a term that’s used to refer to any large shipment size, weight, or dimensions that demand special handling services during transit. Almost every industry has specialized shipping, from oil and gas mining to manufacturing and construction. These industries require special freight handling because shipments require services that regular shipping companies are unable to provide, such as temperature-controlled trailers, hazmat permits, or escort services for oversized loads.
While each type of shipment must follow established regulations to legally move, specialized freight requires additional levels of permits. Furthermore, logistics and transportation processes can already be difficult to navigate, so shipping specialized freight may feel overwhelming. Fortunately, experienced shipping services can help companies with specialized freight and equipment move products safely and efficiently.
How Is Specialized Freight Transported?
Shipping different materials requires different transportation modes and customized vehicles. The transportation method chosen depends on the freight being shipped. Some loads even need an escort service if the freight is oversized. The best transportation method depends on the size, weight, and type of shipment.
Many hazardous materials are transported in dry vans. There are nine classes of hazardous materials, which range from everyday household items such as nail polish and perfume to dangerous chemicals and explosives. For hazmat shipping, carriers must attend several safety courses and obtain the necessary permits to prove they are knowledgeable about their freight’s risks.
Certain electronics, robotics, and fragile fixtures may also fall under the category of specialized shipments to be moved via dry van. As a result, specialized shipments will require additional packaging and care during the warehousing phase. Typically, businesses prefer to move expensive freight in dry van trailers to protect against weather conditions, accidents, and theft.
The grocery industry comes to mind when thinking of refrigerated trucks. However, refrigerated trucking is also crucial in transporting medical supplies such as vaccines and prescriptions. Refrigerated trucks, also known as reefers, are fitted with a temperature-controlled trailer. Additional fees can be expected when shipping temperature-regulated goods because there wil be additional fuel for the cooling and transport of your freight.
Flatbeds, Lowboys, and Step Deck Trailers
Large machinery, mining products, construction equipment, and similar cargo typically falls under oversized loads due to their immense size and weight. Oversized loads, also called heavy haul, over-dimensional freight, or wide load, are products that exceed 259 meters in width, 4.11 meters in height, and are more than about 14.5-16 meters in length. Flatbeds, lowboys, and step deck trailers all allow for product overhang, so they’re most commonly used in transporting oversized freight.
Flatbed trailers are one of the most common types of trailers for shipping. They’re typically between 14.5 and 16 meters long and 2.5 meters wide. Unlike vans and trucks, flatbeds are open, allowing easier loading and unloading. These trailers are incredibly versatile, with a 22,000 kg weight capacity. If you’re shipping heavy haul freight, a tri-axle flatbed trailer can carry up to 29,500kg of cargo.
Lowboys are the best trailer type for tall cargo. Excavators, bulldozers, and other construction machinery are commonly moved using lowboys. Also known as a double drop trailer, lowboys sit only 45cm above the road at their lowest point, making them ideal for moving tall equipment through tunnels and under bridges. A two-axle lowboy has a weight capacity of 18,000kg, but additional axles can be added to accommodate oversized loads.
Step-deck trailers are a hybrid lowboy and flatbed trailer. The tallest deck on a step deck is about 150cm high and 3 meters long, whereas the lower deck is about 90cm high and 10.5 meters in length. This allows step deck trailers to move multiple products with different dimensions in one load. Step decks have a weight capacity of 19,500kg and commonly move forklifts, tractors, and other equipment.
Escort or Pilot Cars
Shipping heavy haul freight may require escort or pilot cars to ensure the safety of the carrier, freight, and other drivers on the road. Typically, loads larger than 3.5 meters wide, or 4.5 meters high, or exceeding 27 to 30 meters in length, require two escort cars. These vehicles drive in front and behind the oversized freight to warn of any unexpected conditions and assist in safe driving practices.
How to Choose a Shipping Provider for Your Specialized Shipments
With thousands of companies and intense competition, one of the most complex parts of arranging proper shipments for specialized supplies is finding a professional logistics partner.
Here are some key features of an adequate specialized shipping provider.
Specialized Experience: Thorough experience in the supply chain and logistics industry is crucial for logistics companies to clearly understand your business needs and provide proper solutions. A logistics partner with experience is more likely to be prepared for unexpected situations and also help guide you through the best solutions to problems.
Carrier Network: Shipping specialized freight requires numerous moving parts, employees, and services for proper execution. When researching logistics partners, check that the array of services is wide enough to provide solutions from specialized trucks and hazardous materials shipping to escort services.
Transportation Technology: Access to current technology will significantly improve overall visibility and customer service. Ensure your logistics partner uses advanced technology, like a transportation management system (TMS), so freight management can be at the highest level. A TMS gives real-time load updates, an essential feature when moving oversized, fragile, expensive, or perishable products.
Best Global Logistics as a 3PL Partner
At Best Global Logistics, we have decades of experience moving specialized freight. From construction and mining equipment to groceries and medicine, BGL is a one-stop shop for all oversized freight needs. We provide a full range of specialized shipping services, such as strategic route planning, permit quotes and more. In addition, our team of experts is available 24/7 for communication and live updates on shipments from anywhere in the world. Regardless of your challenges, BGL can help save you time and money on specialized shipping needs.