Flatbed shipping is the obvious way to go when you need to send a very large and very heavy shipment. Perhaps you’ve got some heavy duty construction equipment you’ve either bought or sold, or maybe you need to send it to another work site. Multi-axle trailers are often required when shipping pre-fabricated parts of structures, or small houses. Whatever the reason, occasionally you may find yourself constrained by the conventions of flatbed equipment, particularly in the weight department. After all, flatbed comes in many varieties to handle an assortment of cargo sizes, but most of those varieties cannot carry more than 45,000 pounds.
Enter the multi-axle trailer, a flatbed variation which can support capacities well above 500,000 pounds. In fact, some of the more advanced hydraulic models can support over 200 tons of cargo. The concept is actually quite simple: more wheels spread over the area of the trailer will further distribute weight, stretching the limits of tire and flatbed technology.
Multi-axle trailers are considered to be among the most heavy-duty hauling equipment. The downside is that they are, by design, inherently more complicated than standard flatbed haulers. This, in turn, makes them harder and more costly to maintain. For this reason, you should prepare yourself for the higher operating costs of multi-axle trailers when obtaining your quote. Reserve your use of this shipping method only when absolutely needed, for shipments consisting of things such as:
- more than one or two vehicles,
- heavy duty construction equipment,
- structures or components of structures,
- and large amounts of heavy materials.
It is notable that in case of truly high-capacity multi-axle trailers, the maximum shipping weight might actually be determined by the limits of the tractor. Occasionally you might encounter a situation with your shipper where the weight of the cargo is so heavy that it would be more efficient to split it among two shipments to save costs. This is an important factor to consider when planning your shipments and petitioning for your quote.
It’s also important to note that the additional axles on a trailer can great increase its minimum turning radius. Even the most skilled drivers will not be able to position the trailer for loading if there is simply not enough room. Plan accordingly by positioning your shipment in a location with enough free space around it to comfortably accommodate it and the trailer. The hauler will be able to provide more specific guidelines and requirements for loading.
Since very heavy loads also tend to be very large, most multi-axle trailers come in the drop-down variety to save as much vertical clearance as possible. This is normally not of special consequence when loading such a heavy shipment. Remember, though, that dock loading will not be possible with drop down trailer designs. Communicate your intended method of loading the shipment with the hauling company to avoid unexpected complications on the day of pickup.