Investing in a flatbed or a step deck trailer for your business can be a terrific investment, but the products you’re shipping will have a big impact on your trailer choices. Both of these trailers have a solid deck and a weight tolerance of more than 20 tons, but a step deck offers a lower clearance than a standard flatbed.
Uses of a Flatbed
Both flatbeds and step decks offer a lot of flexibility for shippers. With the right forklift, they can be loaded from the side if you’re hauling pallet-loads. If you’re hauling something tall, such as another vehicle or piece of construction equipment, you can clear bridges and overpasses with confidence.
The legal height restrictions are critical to your investment. The tallest item you can haul on a flatbed is 8.5 feet. The tallest item you can haul on a step deck is 10 feet.
However, if you don’t need a step deck, a flatbed trailer will probably be easier to find, particularly if you’re buying used, and it will be less expensive to maintain and service.
Flatbed Vs. Step Deck: Cost and Maintenance
When comparing images of a step deck vs. a flatbed trailer, potential buyers will note that the clearance over the back tires on a step deck is much tighter. Suspension inspection and maintenance are critically important for any trailer, but the step deck suspension will be under greater pressure.
Experts at Hale Trailer state, “..anyone considering either trailer configuration to get the trailer fully checked out and make sure it has recently passed a Federal Highway Administration Inspection.” Anyone offering flatbed trailers for sale should be able to show you all the maintenance records and give you information on the sturdiness of the framing members as well as the health of the suspension.
Benefit of Owning Your Own Trailer
As long as the product you’re hauling is always under 8.5 feet tall, a flatbed trailer will serve your needs. If there’s a chance that expanding your product line could lead to shipping taller items, a step deck would be a wise choice. Owning your own trailer will make it easier to expand your current production line or to create a new product line.
Once you have your own trailer, you can expand your delivery options. Your deliveries will be within your own control; you can support local truckers who rent, lease or own their own rigs and know that your products will be delivered on your schedule. You can also schedule your own maintenance during your down time and not have to scramble to find a different rig when another driver or transport company has a breakdown.
Your business is either growing or failing. Spinning your wheels in business means you are sliding back. Investing in your own flatbed trailer means that you know what you can ship and when. If you have the space inside your facility, have your driver back the trailer in so your shipping department can load products straight from the packaging area.