9 Types of Trucks in Logistics: Definitions and Importance
The trucking industry plays a pivotal role in the world of logistics, serving as a cornerstone for businesses reliant on efficient deliveries and secure transportation of goods globally. In the United States, trucks surpass ships, trains, and aircraft in cargo transport, accounting for a staggering 71.6% of the total $14.5 trillion value of goods shipped.
Without the trucking industry, goods couldn’t make their way from rail yards, ports, and airports to their final destinations. A diverse array of trucks with varying capabilities and capacities is employed to achieve this logistical feat. Read on to explore the different types of trucks utilized in the world of logistics.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF TRUCKS IN LOGISTICS
Often underestimated, trucks are a vital linchpin in the logistics sector, overseeing approximately 70% of all freight transportation in the United States. As of 2020, the trucking industry, encompassing carriers like Averitt Express, managed the transportation of a colossal 10.23 billion tons of freight, a number on a rapid upward trajectory. Consequently, any disruption to the trucking industry would have profound repercussions on the economy and the logistics sector.
VARIOUS TRUCK TYPES IN LOGISTICS
Trucking companies employ an assortment of truck types in the realm of logistics, each endowed with distinct features and capabilities. Below, we delve into some of the most common types of trucks in logistics:
Flatbed trucks are prevalent in logistics, characterized by their open bed or platform without a roof or sides. This open design facilitates the hassle-free transport of large, bulky, or oversized cargo that cannot be accommodated in regular enclosed trucks.
These trucks are ideally suited for transporting irregularly shaped or oversized items, including heavy machinery, construction materials, steel pipes, and lumber. The flatbed’s platform streamlines the loading and unloading process and offers flexibility in handling cargo of varying sizes and shapes.
Additionally, flatbed trucks provide the freedom to transport goods too wide or tall for enclosed alternatives, as they can accommodate cargo exceeding standard dimensions. These trucks are commonly employed in construction, agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and logistics operations that involve long-distance transportation of oversized cargo.
Refrigerated trucks, often referred to as reefer trucks, are specialized vehicles designed for the transportation of temperature-sensitive products such as pharmaceuticals, perishable foods, and other goods. These trucks are equipped with refrigeration units that maintain a specific temperature range within the cargo area, ensuring that the transported goods arrive in optimal condition.
Refrigerated trucks are indispensable in logistics as they enable the delivery of perishable items over long distances without compromising their quality. The food industry extensively employs these trucks to transport fresh fruits, dairy products, meat, seafood, and other frozen goods.
In addition to refrigeration units, some trucks feature temperature monitoring systems, insulation, and adjustable airflow, making them integral to maintaining the cold chain, which is crucial for preserving perishable items at the right temperature throughout the supply chain, from production to final delivery.
Straight trucks represent another vital truck type in logistics. Unlike the conventional truck configuration with a separate cab and trailer, straight trucks are designed as all-in-one units, with the cab and cargo area integrated on the same chassis.
These trucks are valuable for transporting cargo to local or regional destinations, thanks to their relatively smaller size compared to tractor-trailers, enhancing maneuverability. As a result, they can easily navigate through narrower urban and suburban routes.
Typically, straight trucks transport smaller goods, including parcels, furniture, and household items. These trucks often feature box-shaped cargo areas with sides and roofs, providing weather protection and enhanced cargo security during transportation.
Some straight trucks may also incorporate additional features like lift gates or ramps to facilitate the efficient loading and unloading of goods. They are essential in logistics for last-mile delivery, offering versatility and reliability for moving smaller cargo over shorter distances.
Tanker trucks are specialized logistics vehicles designed for the transportation of gases and liquids. These trucks are a cornerstone of logistics for moving a wide range of products, including petroleum, high-quality liquids, chemicals, pharmaceutical liquids, and water.
Tanker trucks are equipped with unique tanks or sealed, pressurized, box-shaped cargo compartments to minimize leaks and spills during transit. The tanks are often constructed from materials like aluminum or stainless steel to prevent corrosion and maintain the purity of the transported substances.
In cases of temperature-sensitive cargo, the tank may be insulated to ensure consistent temperatures throughout the supply chain. Tanker trucks are available in various sizes, with smaller models suitable for short-distance deliveries and specialized trucks designed for the safe and efficient transport of hazardous materials.
Transporting liquids and gases necessitates stringent safety precautions to comply with regulations, requiring qualified and licensed truck drivers for specific materials, and adherence to rigorous safety standards for the tankers.
JUMBO TRAILER TRUCKS
Jumbo trailer trucks, commonly known as road trains, are heavy-duty logistics vehicles that feature a tractor unit towing multiple semi-trailers or trailers. These trucks are larger and heavier than typical trucks, allowing for more efficient freight transport per trip.
Jumbo trailer trucks often comprise two or three levels of storage space, with the lower level measuring approximately 1.5 meters in height and the upper level providing an additional 2.5 meters. Access to the upper levels is facilitated by an interior ramp or staircase, making efficient use of vertical space and enabling the transport of more goods in each trip.
These trucks are frequently employed in the retail industry to move lightweight and less bulky goods, such as furniture, home appliances, and other items that occupy significant space but are relatively lightweight. However, it’s essential to note that regulations governing the use of jumbo trailer trucks may vary by country and region, requiring logistics organizations to adhere to local legislation and safety standards.
Semi-trailer trucks, commonly known as semis, are heavy-duty commercial vehicles extensively used in logistics and transportation. These trucks consist of a cab and a semi-trailer connected to the cab via a fifth-wheel hitch. The cab or tractor on semi-trailer trucks houses the engine responsible for propelling the semi-trailer, designed to transport large volumes of cargo.
Semi-trailer trucks come in various sizes and configurations, but they typically have a maximum length of 18 meters and a maximum weight of 40 tons. This size is convenient for transporting large and oversized loads over long distances, making these trucks indispensable for industries such as agriculture, manufacturing, and retail.
Apart from their size and efficiency, semi-trailer trucks offer versatility in terms of the goods they can accommodate and their compatibility with various types of roads. These trucks can transport a wide range of cargo, from refrigerated products to hazardous materials and heavy machinery.
Like jumbo trailer trucks, semi-trailer trucks require professionally trained truck drivers to operate these heavy vehicles safely and effectively. They are also subject to various safety standards and regulations that vary based on location.
As their name suggests, dump trucks are heavy-duty logistics vehicles utilized for the transport of materials that can be tipped or dumped, including sand, gravel, debris, and soil. These trucks are purpose-built for the transportation of loose bulk materials and feature platforms that can be raised and lowered to facilitate the unloading of cargo.
Typically, dump trucks comprise a cab for the truck driver and an open-box dump body hinged behind the cab. Hydraulic controls are used to operate the robust steel dump body, allowing for the efficient and rapid unloading of cargo.
Dump trucks come in various sizes and designs, from single-axle units to larger articulated models with multiple axles. These trucks are powered by potent diesel engines and are operated by skilled drivers who are trained to operate these large trucks safely.
Dump trucks find extensive application in the logistics sector across a range of industries, including mining, waste management, and construction. They are often used in conjunction with other heavy-duty equipment such as excavators, loaders, and bulldozers to load and unload cargo.
Box trucks are commonly employed in logistics for the transportation of goods over short to medium distances. These trucks are typically of medium size, featuring cabs and separate enclosed cargo areas. The cargo area is usually rectangular or square in shape, giving rise to the ‘box’ truck name. This design simplifies the loading and unloading process.
Box trucks are ideal for the transport of smaller goods that do not necessitate a large trailer or full-sized truck. They are commonly utilized in urban and suburban settings for the delivery of goods to retail stores, distribution centers, restaurants, and businesses.
Moreover, box trucks are frequently used in the context of moving and relocation services, as they provide an additional layer of security and safety for the items in transit. The primary advantage of box trucks in urban settings is their ability to maneuver efficiently in confined spaces, unlike larger trucks such as jumbo trailers.
Tail-lift trucks play a crucial role in addressing the challenges associated with loading and unloading heavy cargo in logistics. These trucks are equipped with hydraulic or liftgate systems that can be lowered and raised, facilitating the swift and efficient loading and unloading of bulky and heavy cargo.
While these trucks are relatively compact, they prove invaluable when it comes to handling items that are too heavy or bulky to be manually lifted or managed with a pallet jack. Tail-lift trucks significantly reduce the risk of injury for truck operators, including the driver and other personnel, by streamlining the process of moving goods on and off the platform.
Tail-lift trucks are commonly deployed for the delivery of items to retail establishments, warehouses, and businesses that lack forklifts or loading docks. They also find use in home deliveries, particularly for the shipping of appliances and furniture to final destinations with limited accessibility.