What is Heavy Duty Transportation?

If you have questions about whether your cargo needs heavy-duty trucking services, then you’ve come to the right place. What are heavy-duty freight dimensions? What are heavy-duty weights? Which trailers are used for heavy-duty freight and how much does it cost to ship? We’ll answer these questions for you so you can ship heavy loads with confidence.

What are heavy-duty freight size?

Typically, heavy-duty transportation need to be arranged for loads that exceed any or all of the following load sizes: 14 feet, 6 inches high; 14 feet, 6 inches wide; 100 feet long. In addition, any load with a single extreme size (i.e., more than 16 feet wide or tall) requires heavy-duty transportation. Of course we have to acknowledge that different carriers have different definitions of that size, but we are just providing our experience in most cases for your reference. When you make a shipment, you will still need to tell your carrier the dimensions of your load.

heavy duty transportation

What commodity weight is considered a heavy-duty transportation?

Any shipment with a total unit weight of more than 55,000 pounds is considered a heavy-duty transportation.

Additional trucks and trailer axles are required to safely transport shipments over 55,000 pounds, classifying these shipments as “heavy-duty”.

What trailers are used for heavy-duty transportation?

Heavy-duty transportation that exceed the size and weight thresholds listed above require some of the most specialized trailers the transportation industry must offer.

For heavy loads over 14 feet, 6 inches high, 14 feet, 6 inches wide and/or 100 feet long but not 55,000 pounds, it is not always necessary to add axles. The following are some common trailers used in these scenarios:

  • Removable Gooseneck Trailers (RGN)
  • Expandable RGN
  • Flatbed, step and double drop trailers
  • Extendable flatbed trailers
  • Low-profile trailers with outriggers

As the total weight of a heavy-duty load increases, the composition of the trailer used to transport it will change. To further distribute the weight, additional axles will need to be used.

  • In total, once your load weighs more than 50,000 pounds, you will need no less than six total axles to haul it. Most shipments – legal weight shipments – use five total axles (1 steer, 2 drive, 2-3 trailers).
  • For “heavy” loads up to 85,000 pounds, a combination of a tri-axle trailer (RGN, step deck, etc.) and a heavy-duty 4-axle semi-tractor is sufficient.
  • Heavy loads over 85,000 pounds will require additional axles, including Jeeps and Stingers, to ensure proper weight distribution.
heavy duty transportation

What is a heavy-duty tractor?

A standard heavy-duty tractor is a four-axle semi-truck (1 steer, 1 propeller, 2 drivers) designed specifically to haul extremely heavy loads. These tractors are dual-frame with a 20,000 lb. front axle and larger steer tires.

Typically, heavy-duty tractors are used in combination with trailers with more than two axles to provide carriers with the seven (or more) axles needed to transport heavy loads.

How much does heavy-duty transportation cost?

As with many other transportation services, heavy-duty transportation costs fluctuate greatly from one scenario to another. For this reason, it is difficult to generalize the cost of your particular shipment.

In reality, you have to estimate your heavy-duty hauling costs to be between $5 and $10 per mile, plus fuel.

In some cases – when the load is less than 100,000 pounds – you can estimate its heavy haul price by multiplying $1 by the total number of axles required times its length of haul. So, using this formula, a 600-mile, 65,000-pound, 7-axle shipment would cost about $4,200.

Now that you know that heavy haul freight is a complex process, you need to choose your carrier carefully.

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