News and Press

What You Need to Know When You Use Flatbed Shipping

by Trent Davis, Operations Manager on May 17, 2017


If you’re a manufacturer building custom pipes, or diesel engines and large equipment that weighs up to 48,000 pounds it’s likely you are shipping goods with a flatbed trailer. When you contact a carrier of third-party logistics company (3PL) to arrange what you think is going to be a flatbed shipment, make sure you begin the process armed with as much information as possible.


I always recommend you send a picture taken with your phone of the equipment. An image helps us anticipate what the shipment may require. If we see if the shipment is going to be over eight and one-half feet tall, then we’ll arrange the proper equipment and permits, if required.


The essential information any provider requires is exact dimensions and weight. This information helps determine what kind of trailer we use and whether we’ll need state permits and escorts for oversize loads. If the shipment is moving in a lane that traverses more than one state, then we will need to pull permits for each state.


Again, the load’s dimensions and weight dictates what style of trailer we use.


  • Standard flatbed—Max freight weight for the standard flatbed is 48,000 pounds, 48 feet or 53-feet long and can carry items 8 feet 6 inches wide and high.

flatbed trailor

  • Step deck—Also known as drop decks, these trailers accommodate oversized equipment up to 10-feet high

stepdeck trailor

  • Removable gooseneck (RGN)—This design gives you the ability to load the trailer by driving equipment or machinery (forklifts, tractors) on. Depending on the shipment, these trailers can accommodate loads up to 150,000 pounds by adding up to 20 axles.

removable gooseneck

  • Extendable flatbeds and single-step deck—These are designed for loads too long to transport with a standard flatbed. Some can be stretched to accommodate up to 80-foot loads.

extendable flatbeds and single-step deck

  • Double drop—This design accommodates loads with even more height—up to 11-feet 6-inches.


Pro tip: Make sure you don’t exceed weight limits on flatbed trailers as fines can be severe—up to $1,500.


Also note that depending on the load, you may need a tarp, which is additional cost. For instance, sometimes we ship range hoods for restaurant kitchens that need protection from the elements. You should also cover diesel engines and electronics equipment.


Naturally, flatbed trailers are employed a lot to move construction equipment. One shipper we work with uses a step deck with ramps to transport a 16-passenger van to a job site. The company uses the van to move its crew from the hotel to its job site. We always select a step deck with ramps when the shipper wants to drive a vehicle onto the trailer.


Again, if you have an oversized load that must move between multiple states, you’ll need permits for each state. Roughly speaking, permits from three states tacks on an average of $50–$500 for the move. The type of road—two-lane or four-lane—and condition, also dictates what kind of escort is required. Most escorts need a lead truck with wide-load flags. Other options could mean two escort vehicles, front and rear, and possibly even a police escort.


To summarize, here are five tips I’ll leave you with that will make arranging your next flatbed shipment go easier.


Know the dimension and weight of everything you want to ship. If the delivery includes pallets, note the total number of pallets. This information we’ll help your transportation partner find your most cost-effective solutions.


5 Tips to Help Your Flatbed Shipping Go Smoother


  1. Send a picture or schematics of what you’re shipping.
  1. Provide dimensions and weights of all the items
  1. Ask for a tarp if it’s required.
  1. State how you anticipate loading and unloading the freight.
  1. Provide your supplier with plenty of lead time. More time gives us providers more time to find the best deals for you!


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