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3 Secrets for Successfully Shipping Over Dimensional Flatbed Loads

3 Secrets to Successfully Executing Over Dimensional Flatbed Loads


Moving over dimensional flatbed loads is difficult business; it can take years to learn the intricacies involved when transporting this type of freight. It is vital that carriers be prepared to move oversized loads with their flatbed trucks, especially around the warmer months, considered busy flatbed season due to the upswing in construction work.

What is an Over Dimensional Flatbed Load?
Standard flatbed shipments are generally 48′-53′ by 102″ wide by 13’6″ high or less. The total weight must be less than 80,000 pounds. Truck and trailer semi combination are always 18 wheels. A driver’s view is not obstructed except for normal blind spots that driver can pick up in the off-track mirrors.

Over dimensional flatbed shipment length can exceed 160′ long, 18′ wide, and 18′ high. Often, they can weigh well over 200,000 pounds. Truck and trailer semi combination are not limited to 18 wheels, and may have as many as 40 wheels.

Shipments of this size can (and often do) obscure the driver’s vision. Certified pilot escorts are needed in both the front and the rear to cover these areas. Escorts keep in constant touch with driver via two-way radio—everyone works together to move shipment safely through traffic, low bridges, low power wires, and other obstacles.

3 Secrets for Successful Over Dimensional Flatbed Load Shipping
When it comes to moving over dimensional flatbed loads successfully, there are several aspects to keep top of mind, which include:

1. Gather Important Metrics About the Load
Knowledge is key when it comes to moving over dimensional loads as carriers must be prepared. To start, verify that you have the following information about the oversized load:

• Exact dimensions—length, width, height
• Total weight
• Exact origin and destination
• Type of item to be transported
• Model and serial numbers
• Time frame for movement

Having all of this information at hand is critical as rules for transporting over dimensional shipments tend to change when crossing state lines.

2. Understand Specialized Regulations
Once you have obtained metrics about your over dimensional flatbed load, determine the permit type, time needed to secure the permits, number of axles needed on the power unit, number of axles needed on the trailer, type of escorts required, curfew/driver operational times, and road route to safely move the shipment. If the shipment is in the super load category, a certified route survey is also needed for the entire route before a permit can be issued. An experienced 3PL provider can help determine these specifications and create optimized route guides.

Be aware that oversized loads with travel escorts may only be on the road from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset, Monday through Friday in most states. Many states also restrict or prohibit driving over holidays or weekends, so carriers with over dimensional flatbed loads need to plan their deliveries accordingly.

Typically, red flags and amber lights are required for oversized loads to ensure visibility to other traffic. Travel escorts accompanying an oversize shipment are often also required to have flags and or lights.

3. Beware of Hidden Costs
Hidden costs can arise in certain situations when it comes to over dimensional shipping. Savvy carriers know where to look and how to anticipate these costs. Some of these costs include extra fees if dimensions or weights are incorrect, detention charges if a shipment is not ready when the heavy equipment arrives, and added costs for additional trucks if multiple pieces of equipment are required for the shipment.

Final Thoughts
While shipping over dimensional flatbed loads requires extra time and attention, it is an overall efficient way to move large amounts or bulky products. The keys to successful oversized flatbed shipping are to plan carefully, be vigilant of regulatory changes, and utilize a 3PL who can help optimize all aspects of the oversize shipment life cycle.

Learn more about how a 3PL can help streamline your flatbed shipping processes.


- President, East Mountain Transport, Inc



Thanks for your insight, Karen



Jennifer Crowe

Do you have a recommendation for a manual/video/resource to teach how to use chains and bindings for extremely oversized loads (like crane parts)?
Thank you.



Najma Qureshi

In addition to these factors mentioned above, route optimisation is one of the important factor that should also be concerned. Thanks for sharing the information.



Najma Qureshi

As there can be various kinds of ways to a successful shipping but the important ones can be that
Decide the type of delivery service you want to run.
Get all necessary paperwork ready.
Write a good business plan.
Find a good location and hire staff.



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