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What is Flatbed Shipping?

Do you have cargo that doesn't seem to fit with any standard shipping carriers?

Chances are, you are denied LTL shipping since your item is too bulky. 

This is where flatbed shipping will work best for your needs. 

What is Flatbed Shipping?

When a package is too big for the average truck trailer, calling a flatbed shipper is suitable. Industrial shippers also use flatbed shipments to carry their cargo from various points in a given region.

These vehicles are designed to allow loading from all angles using a crane or forklift to take heavy goods onto the trailers easily.

Shippers with oversized cargo will use flatbed shipping as their means of freight. Flatbed vehicles have no sides, walls, or roofs to carry the load.

Compared with standard truck and trailer shipping, flatbed freight is more spacious and flexible in cargo sizes.

Moreover, this is an ideal shipping mode for those looking to transport industrial, automotive, farm equipment, solar panels, and manufacturing goods, to name a few. 

Related: Ultimate Guide to Freight Shipping

How Big is a Flatbed Truck?

Flatbed shipping companies can haul large shipments using open trailer trucks. A typical flatbed vehicle measures 48 ft. X 8.5 ft X 8.5ft is required to transport large loads.

Deck sizes usually vary, especially the height restrictions. Generally, most flatbed vehicles can carry as heavy as 48,000 pounds (21,772 kilograms). 

How does PTL work?

Also known as partial truckload, PTL shipping is ideal for cargo for shipping goods that don't fill a whole truck.

For shipments of this type, cargo is between 5 to 14 pallets and weighs from 5,000 to 40,000 pounds (2,268 kgs to 18,144 kgs). 

Land freight such as trucks offer PTL for shipments hauls less than a truckload but too big to be considered an LTL shipment. You can check consolidator networks providing this kind of service.

Types of Flatbed

Flatbed freight vehicles and services come in varying sizes and services. By determining the kind of cargo to be shipped, you will identify the flatbed shipping rates, vehicle type, and specific services most suitable for your needs. 


Stretch trailers are built for long freights. Compared with standard flatbed vehicles, this type is 48 to 80 feet long.

However, expect the weight to go down to 45,000 pounds (20,412 kilos) to compensate for the length of the cargo. 

Double Drop 

This type of flatbed trailer comes with three heights. The lowest portion of the trailer is dedicated to taller cargo 12 feet high. 

Removable Gooseneck 

Transporting large vehicles will require a flatbed shipment with a removable gooseneck. A ramp is readily available so cars can move in and out of the freight carrier easily.

Removable gooseneck trailers are commonly used to transport heavy machinery or larger automobiles. 

Step Deck 

Step deck has a similar haul load of up to 10 feet in measurement. Just like double drop, this flatbed freight vehicle comes with a lower deck, but the truck is higher than the deck. 


With the help of a rail system, this flatbed truck protects your goods during transportation.

The tarp attached to the vehicle serves as a covering to protect your cargo from external environmental elements such as rain, heavy winds, and extreme heat it moves across town.

Pros & Cons of Flatbed Shipping?

Advantages of Flatbed Shipping 

  • Flatbed shipping is a cost-effective way to ship oversized freight since there are no physical walls.
  • Compared to dry van trailers, loading cargo in flatbed vehicles are more accessible and more convenient since it has no walls or roof. 
  • Loading cargo is more convenient since flatbed trucks are equipped with double drops, RGNs, and step decks.
  • Unlike standard truckloads, flatbed vehicles can carry heavier loads, making them ideal for large shipments delivered within a particular region. 
  • Shippers looking to make the most of their shipping fees can utilize flatbed shipping rates. The flexible space in flatbed vehicles allows you to pack cargo to its total capacity. Hence, you make more profit for every shipment. 
  • Flatbed vehicles don't require loading docks to unload cargo. It can deliver virtually anywhere as long as the space allows it. This setup makes it convenient for you and the flatbed shipping company

Disadvantages of Flatbed Shipping 

  • Flatbed shipments are exposed to environmental factors such as rain compared with standard truck freight. 
  • It's more dangerous to transport cargo using this type of freight since it's not enclosed, making it prone to falling off the truck (or causing an accident from fallen cargo). 
  • Flatbed carriers need to follow strict shipping guidelines such as appropriate tie-downs, the size of trailers to be used for specific shipments, and weight limits.

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