Air ride suspension is preferable in many cases and sometimes mandated. Anything fragile or volatile to shock or sudden movements will like require air ride in addition to other precautions. Some good examples are:
- precision calibrate equipment
- liquid containers
- glass products or materials
If you intend to ship some of these examples, or otherwise require air-ride suspension, be sure to verify that the operator is using reputable, well-maintained equipment. The popularity of air ride suspension has increased greatly in recent years, and there are many shoddy after-market solutions appearing all over the industry. Some of these models are prone to high fault rates, which is considerably risky given the already high-incidence of air-ride suspension system failures. Also ensure that the operator intends to employ air-ride suspension on both the tractor and trailer. Air-ride is an all or nothing concept, and one without the other will have almost no benefit to your shipment.
- Pack your items properly.
- Use shipping blankets to cover any surface that can be damaged by scratching.
If you run your own loading and unloading operations, you may or may not already be familiar with some of the special issues that air-ride suspensions create at the dock. Air-ride suspensions are notoriously more susceptible to “trailer-walk,” the process of trailers moving away from docks during loading and unloading. This happens because the air in the suspension will compress as weight is added to the trailer. The up and down motion associated with forklift operations can cause enough shifting to create a hazardous loading environment. Standard trailer jacks and chock blocks are not designed to safely prevent this from occurring. The best way to prevent this is to ensure that the driver empties the air suspension before loading or unloading begins. Unfortunately this creates an additional problem since the height of the trailer with an empty air-suspension may be up to 8 inches lower in some cases. Evaluate your need for special dock modifications to address these issues.