If you’re looking for a trucker to move heavyweight international containers, you need to be resourceful. After all, only a fraction of carriers provide heavyweight services. When capacity gets tight, those slots fill up fast.
Companies that ship dense freight can save a good deal money on the ocean crossing by filling containers to the legal limit that many states in the US allow on the road—about 55,000 lbs. To gain this advantage, however, you need to find a heavy haul trucking company to complete the move to or from the door.
Finding any kind of carrier is largely a matter of supply and demand. Heavy haul carriers are no exception. They tend to be more plentiful in some regions than in others.
For example, regulations for heavyweight transport are a bit more stringent in the US than in Canada. And while until recently, US trucking companies have hauled containers on chassis provided by the shipping lines, most Canadian haulers have bought their own equipment. Unlike the shipping lines, those Canadian truckers usually invest in top-of-the-line equipment, able to carry heavy loads.
So, while a minority of truckers provide heavyweight transportation in the US, most Canadian truckers offer that service as a matter of course.
Within the US, availability will vary from place to place, and from time to time on the calendar.
Looking on your own? It’s a game of trial and error
Type “heavy haul carrier” into a search engine, and plenty of trucking companies will appear in the results. But to find a company with available equipment and the qualifications to move your load in your lane, you’ll need to contact them one by one.
It’s not much different on electronic load boards. Post your load, and with luck, someone will respond. But before you strike a deal, you’ll need to do some vetting. Can the company get the right permits for moving your load through the states where it needs to go? Does it carry the proper insurance? How do other shippers rate its services?
Of course, you might not hear back from any qualified carriers at all. When capacity is tight, heavyweight carriers get so busy serving big shippers, they might not have attention to spare for a small company that needs to move a container or two.
Maybe you have the time and resources to go through this process. Or maybe you and your staff are tied up and your load is sitting at the port, racking up storage charges while you search for a trucker.
How a freight forwarder finds heavy haul carriers
A forwarder that is a heavy freight shipping specialist has relationships with many trucking companies that haul heavy loads regularly. And the forwarder probably also subscribes to one or more electronic trucking networks.
When this forwarder looks for a truck to haul a customer’s heavyweight container, it starts with its go-to carriers. If none of those partners has capacity available in the right place, the forwarder logs onto a network. There, it searches for pre-vetted heavyweight truckers that serve the customer’s region. Each listing includes a rating based on customer feedback—kind of like ratings on Uber or Yelp. So, when the forwarder picks a carrier, you know that company comes well recommended.
An experienced forwarder also understands nuances that can spell the difference between a smooth transaction and an expensive mess. For example:
Single-trip or blanket permit?
To haul a heavyweight load, a trucker must carry a permit. A single-trip permit covers an individual load, while a blanket permit covers any number of qualifying loads over time.
Some states don’t allow blanket permits. If your container passes through one of those states, your trucker will need to get a single-trip permit. Some states allow blanket permits only for cargo up to a certain weight. (Learn about DOT truck weight limits by state.) If your load is heavier than that, a trucker with a blanket permit will need a single-trip permit for that haul.
Either permit works just fine, as long as it matches the weight and dimensions of your load. That’s where another nuance of heavyweight transportation comes in.
Getting the numbers right
A trucker can obtain a valid permit only if the shipper provides accurate information. If the trucker shows up with a permit for a 49,000-lb load, but it turns out that the weight is actually 53,000 lbs, that permit may be useless. The trucker has to drive away and start from Square One, applying for a new permit based on the correct weight. You lose time, and you pay for the wasted trip.
A freight forwarder with expertise in heavy haul trucking knows all the questions to ask to make sure your trucker arrives with a valid permit that will cover your load for the whole trip.
Marooned at the Weigh Station
It’s bad enough when a trucker learns that the numbers on an overweight permit don’t match the load’s real weight. But what if no one notices that discrepancy? Then you’re in for a world of hurt.
Take the case of the shipper who hired a truck to haul a heavyweight container filled with castings. The loaded container weighed more than the weight on the permit. But no one spotted the problem until the truck stopped at a weigh station, where a state trooper put the driver out of service on the spot.
Driver and load were stuck until another driver was sent to offload some cargo, bringing the weight down to the permitted level. The shipper paid for the first driver’s idle time and, of course, for the second truck.
It pays to ask for help
Do you already have solid connections with trucking companies that specialize in heavyweight containers? Can you make sure the trucker arrives with everything you need to ship your load legally, whether that’s the proper permit or something more specific, like a chassis capable of handling the additional cargo weight? Are you prepared to vet potential carriers and research their past performance?
A freight forwarder that specializes in overweight container services will take on much of that burden for you, connecting you with heavy haul carriers that deliver the service you need.
To learn more about heavyweight transportation, contact the experts at I.C.E. Transport.