Different Types of Semi-Trailer and What Are They Used for

Not every semi-trailer is perfect for every job. The transportation of food, steel, large equipment and other goods requires different types of semi-trailers. If the semi-trailer is not suitable for loading this cargo, then it can’t effectively use the space. In the long run, it will not only cost you in gas, but also mean more frequent travel, and even lead to extended delivery.

What are the types of semi-trailers? What are they used for?

Flatbed trailer

Flatbed trailer

Flatbed trailer is a common semi-trailer. It has a wide range of applications and can transport almost all items that are not afraid of tides.

Common materials for flatbed trailers are steel and aluminum. Although the steel flatbed trailer is the heaviest, it is also the strongest. And the purchase cost is low. The all-aluminum flatbed semi-trailer is very light, which allows more cargo to be legally transported without an overweight permit. However, the cost of aluminum plates is high and easy to damage.

Type of goods:

  • Bulky items
  • excavator
  • bulldozer
  • heavy machine

Legal load and specifications:

  • Maximum shipping weight: 48,000 pounds
  • Maximum trailer length: 48 feet -53 feet
  • Maximum trailer width: 8.5 feet
  • Maximum legal freight height: 8.5 feet

Lowbed trailer

The difference with the flatbed semi-trailer is that its deck height has two drops in deck height. One is after the gooseneck, and the other is before the wheels. Two drops in height mean that it can carry higher cargo. If you want to transport bulldozers or other construction equipment, a low-bed trailer will be your best choice.

Type of goods:

  • Bulky items
  • excavator
  • bulldozer
  • heavy machine

Legal load and specifications:

  • Maximum shipping weight: 40,000 pounds (with 2 axles); up to 80,000 pounds
  • Maximum trailer length: 48 feet -53 feet
  • Maximum trailer width: 8.5 feet
  • Maximum legal freight height: 11.5 feet – 12feet

Stretch Removable Gooseneck Trailer

This trailer is stretchable and is designed to transport long cargo. These goods are usually not carried by the standard type of RGN. It usually contains 3 axes or more. More shafts mean greater load capacity.

Legal load and specifications:

  • Maximum shipping weight: 40,000 pounds (with 2 axles); up to 80,000 pounds
  • Maximum trailer length: 48 feet -53 feet
  • Maximum trailer width: 8.5 feet
  • Maximum legal freight height: 11.5 feet – 12feet

Dry van trailer

Dry van trailer

This type of trailer is also called an enclosed trailer or box trailer, which is a common type of semi-trailer in daily life, just like the flatbed semi-trailer. It does not have a temperature control system, so it is usually used to transport non-corrosive, temperature-insensitive, and regular-shaped goods, such as clothing.

Type of goods:

  • Non-perishable food and beverages
  • Clothing and household goods
  • Building products

Legal load and specifications:

  • Maximum shipping weight: 42,000 pounds to 45,000 pounds
  • Maximum trailer length: 48 feet -53 feet
  • Maximum trailer width: 8.2 feet
  • Maximum legal freight height: 8 feet

The curtainside trailer has the same specifications, too. The difference between the curtain side trailer and the dry van trailer is the way of loading and unloading. Curtainside trailer can be loaded and unloaded from the side and rear at the same time, which improves efficiency. While dry van trailers can only load and unload cargos from the rear.

Reefer Trailers

The appearance of the reefer trailer is similar to the dry van trailer, except that it is built with insulation and temperature controls. Therefore, this type of semi-trailer usually uses refrigeration to transport some products that are corrosive and need to be frozen. And it can also protect temperature-sensitive goods from the impact of cold weather. Regardless of the weather outside, the reefer trailer can keep the temperature inside unchanged.

Type of goods:

  • Meat, poultry, fish, dairy
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Plants and florals

Legal load and specifications:

  • Maximum shipping weight: 42,000 pounds to 45,000 pounds
  • Maximum trailer length: 48 feet -53 feet
  • Maximum trailer width: 8.2 feet
  • Maximum legal freight height: 8 feet

Dump semi-trailer

The dump trailer uses hydraulics to lift the trailer bed up and uses gravity to unload the cargo. Dump trailers are similar to dump trucks, and people often confuse these two types of trailers. The differences between them are: dump trailers allow custom sizes, are cheaper, and still be able to transport goods safely and efficiently.

Dump trailers can be divided into three categories according to the direction of dumping: end dump, side dump, and bottom dump. Before buying a dump trailer, you should choose according to the actual situation.

  • End dump trailer: It is to unload cargo from the rear. That means the front of the trailer needs to be lifted off, which is easy to cause instability. The uneven roads will also exacerbate the situation.
  • Side dump trailer: It is designed to solve the instability of the end dump trailer. Unloading cargo from the side can ignore the influence of the ground and provide greater stability.
  • Bottom dump trailer: This kind of trailer unloads materials directly from the bottom of the box. But it is not suitable for fine materials, because it will likely leak out.
End dump trailer
Side dump trailer
Bottom dump trailer

Type of goods:

  • Gravel
  • Stone
  • Sand
  • Trash
  • Branches

Legal load and specifications:

  • Maximum shipping weight: Dependent on local regulations
  • Maximum trailer length: 45 feet
  • Maximum trailer width: 8.5 feet
  • Maximum legal freight height: 13 feet 6 ins

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