Flatbed Trailers vs Dry Vans: Which Is Better?

It’s not so much that a flatbed or a dry van is better than the other, as much as it is why you want to use either one, and when. Currently, they’re the two most common trailers on the road today. As far as shipping freight goes, they’re both highly popular. They can both haul a wide array of freight types. That said, they each play specific roles in the industry and have their own distinct, individual characteristics.

To gain a better understanding of how and when to use which trailer, let’s take a look at a comparison between the two.

The Flatbed Trailer

This method of freight transportation is highly versatile. One of the best characteristics of a flatbed is its loading and unloading options. The variety offered here means that the driver (and company he works for) has the ability to outdo standard trailers by hauling oversized, large machinery or objects.

You’ve seen flatbed trucks any number of times. They’re characteristically flat, ergo the name, with an open back and sides. The fact that it is so unrestricted means that not only can large cargo extend past the edges, but it can be unloaded and loaded from the back or from the sides of the trailer. Frequently, to unload and load cargo, a forklift is used. Loads be anything from equipment, to machinery, to palletized loads, and more. In extreme cases, a crane can be used for unloading and loading.

So, versatility is a huge plus when it comes to the flatbed trailer. Unfortunately, if your cargo needs protection, a tarp system is about the best you can do. Loads on a flatbed trailer are not particularly protected from the elements. There is the downside.

Dry Van Trailers

These fully enclosed trailers are most often unloaded and loaded from the trailer’s rear. Commercial goods are the most common freight hauled in these trailers. For loading and unloading, the trailer backs up to the loading dock (which is as high as the trailer’s floor). This makes for very easy unloading and loading using pallet jacks and forklifts. Even without a loading dock, loading and unloading can be done with a forklift because it can raise up to the level of most trailer floors or decks.

If no forklift or loading dock are available, a lift gate is included with some dry van trailers. This gate allows raising and lowering of freight from the ground to the level of the trailer and back again. The lift gate is basically a motorized deck.

Mickey Genuine Parts has a wide variety of parts, accessories, and equipment for members of the trucking, freight, and shipping industry. We also carry used trailers of several types. Our certified service centers are located throughout the United States for easy access when you’re on the road and off. Contact the customer service staff at Mickey today to find out how we can help you with your trucking, shipping, and transport needs.


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