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Basics of Shipping Legal Flatbed Loads

Imagine your business gets an order for an item you have been producing for years, but this time it’s 3 inches wider than usual. You charge a little bit more to produce the item, call the trucking company you usually use and ask them to come pick it up and deliver it to your customer. When your truck arrives the driver refuses to take the load. It’s a “wide load,” he says. You call another company, give them the dimensions and request a rate. Their rate is $1,500 more than your usual rate, and they can’t pick it up for another week because their “Heavy Haul” driver won’t be available until then.

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

1. 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. Communicating exact weight is just as important.

2. Become familiar with “legal” dimensions. The more you know about it, the less likely it is that 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
48’ long (although some overhang is acceptable in most states without permitting)

As for weight, 45,000 lbs is a good limit to use. Many flatbeds can haul more weight legally, but these are not as common.

3. 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.

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

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

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