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Why Heavy Haul Trucks Run on Diesel

The simplest answer is that diesel fuel produces more power. It requires a significant amount of energy to move a heavy haul load and traditional gas engines just aren’t up to the task. It all comes down to a matter of torque, not horsepower.

Diesel

Compression and Torque

An ordinary passenger vehicle relies on a spark plug to ignite a fuel and air mixture in the engine’s cylinders. Diesel engines are different. They take in air and compress it until it reaches a high temperature. When the air is hot enough, its injected into the cylinder and the fuel ignites.

The energy from diesel fuel is measured by twisting force, known as torque, that’s exerted on the engine. Torque provides more power than simple horsepower. It’s torque that’s required for diesel engines to be able to move the tractor, trailer and load. It also enables trucks to attain a normal driving speed and maintain it while hauling cargo.

Heavy haulers may be required to traverse a wide range of road conditions, including mountainous terrain. The torque and energy provided by diesel fuel enable drivers to climb any hills and mountains they may encounter on their route, even while fully loaded. Low-end torque is a critical factor in the heavy haul industry.

Cost Effective

Diesel fuel is more expensive than traditional gas even at the best of times. It also produces more energy for the money. It’s more cost effective, despite the higher pricing, to produce the energy needed for hauling heavy loads.

Fuel Efficiency

Diesel engines are more fuel efficient than their gas-powered counterparts. The engines are designed for power, which they produce in abundance. They may take longer to get up to speed than the average passenger vehicle, but they’re well able to pull the heavy loads that are required of them. Diesel engines have a higher thermal efficiency rating than cars and they also produce fewer emissions than a traditional gas-powered vehicles.

Less Maintenance

The specifications to which diesel engines are designed and built are different than a gas engine. They’re more durable, reliable, and therefore require less maintenance and upkeep.

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Driving Limits Keep Roads Safer for Everyone

Anyone that’s ever embarked on a long road trip knows how monotonous driving can become after the first flush of excitement has cooled. It lowers a driver’s alertness level, slows reaction times, and leads to fatigue that causes accidents. This is why there are driving limits.

It’s known by many names ranging from monotonous driving syndrome and drowsy driving to highway hypnosis and white line fever. Individuals that fall victim to it often traverse great distances without any recollection of having traveled it.

Driving Limits

It’s just one of the reasons that driving limits have been mandated for every driver in the trucking industry. The regulations can be confusing, particularly for drivers new to the road. The rules are designed to keep drivers wide awake, alert and safer on the road. Tractor-trailer rigs require more time to stop and extra room to turn and switch lanes. Drivers must be completely alert to navigate and maneuver a heavy hauler.

Driving Hours

Truck drivers are allowed to drive a maximum of 11 hours each day after 10 consecutive hours of driving. Drivers must also take regular 30-minute breaks. After a typical run, they’re not allowed to drive past 14 consecutive hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.

The clock never stops ticking for truck drivers and that’s true even when they take a break. Drivers are required to take a 30-minute non-driving break if they’ve been driving for more than 8 cumulative hours. They must log 10 hours off during a 24-hour period. The key to many of the regulations is how many consecutive hours a driver has been behind the wheel.

The maximum time that drivers can be on the road is 14 hours per day and off duty time doesn’t extend the 14-hour limit. However, there are exceptions as with everything. The only time a driver can extend drive times are when he/she encounters adverse driving conditions that encompass ice and snow, heavy rain, and flooded roads.

Working the Week

Regulations also affect the number of hours a driver can work per week. Drivers can work a 60-hour week over 7-days or 70-hours over 8 days. Drivers can restart their work week after they’ve taken 45 or more consecutive hours off duty.

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Why Are Heavy Haul Permits Necessary?

Transporting heavy haul loads is a complicated, complex and risky endeavor. It requires drivers to have specific training and skills to ensure the load arrives safely and to protect the public from potentially hazardous situations.

The U.S. Dept. of Transportation sets safety regulations for all major types of transportation. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates and provides safety oversight of commercial carriers. Each state also enacts its own regulations governing the type of permits that are required when trucks pass through its borders.

Permits

Permitting ensures that safe hauling and delivery methods are followed and that specialized precautions are taken with loads that exceed specified weight, height, length and width limitations. Loads that exceed those specifications are considered super loads and proper permitting must be in place before the driver embarks on the job. Depending upon the destination, multiple permits will be needed.

Failure to obtain the appropriate permits will prevent the load from traveling on certain roads or crossing bridges. The road may not be built to sustain the weight or too narrow to traverse. There may be overpasses that are too low for the load to pass under and bridges that don’t have the structural strength to support the weight. There may also be construction projects in progress that can affect routes.

Any of those situations can result in damage to the load, harm to infrastructures, and danger to motorists and pedestrians. Professional heavy haul companies have highly-specialized software to track changes in conditions that may require a change of routes.

Heavy haul companies can supply escort vehicles and proper signage when required. Heavy haul professionals are knowledgeable in the types of permits that are needed to satisfy federal and all state regulations, depending on the load, to ensure that heavy equipment arrives safely and on time without any delays or fines.

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Why Weight Limits are Important When Exporting Heavy Equipment

The importance of weight will immediately present itself when seeking a heavy hauler to transport heavy equipment. It will be a factor in the type of trailer that’s used and the roadways over which the load can travel.

In some instances, a heavy hauler may only be required to deliver the equipment to a dock for shipping overseas or to a railway yard for further transport overland. A heavy haul company can help individuals choose the least expensive and most effective way to haul any piece of heavy equipment when exporting heavy equipment

Exporting Heavy Equipment

Weight Systems

The U.S. is one of the few countries that uses the Imperial system of weights and measures. The weight will have to be converted to the metric system on documents for the destination country.

Vessels

When shipping internationally to countries overseas, the weight will be an element in the type of vessel upon which the equipment is conveyed. Different types of ships are equipped to transport certain types of cargo, but not others. Ships also have limits on the weight they can safely carry. Breaking equipment down when possible and placing it in a container can have the advantage of maximizing space vs shipping costs.

If the equipment is confined in a standard cargo container, the maximum gross weight of an individual container can’t exceed 67,000 pounds – but different container sizes carry different payload capacities. Whether the equipment is carried on deck or in a container, the weight is an important factor in how overall weight is distributed across the ship when exporting heavy equipment.

Railway

Shipping overland by rail can be an alternative, depending on the destination country. Heavy equipment shippers will still need a heavy hauler to get the equipment to the railway pickup point. The equipment will typically be shipped on a flatbed railcar and may or may not be placed in a container. Some flatbed cars can handle gross weights up to 315,000 lbs.

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Why do Bigger Trucks Take Diesel Gas?

Heavy haulers are required to transport items that are extremely heavy and that can include over hilly or mountainous terrain. Unlike passenger vehicles, tractor-trailer rigs don’t use regular gas. They require diesel fuel for a very good reason. Diesel gas has higher compressive resistance than regular fuel and releases more energy. The more energy that’s released, the greater the torque, which means more power to move the truck along.

Diesel Gas

Compression Rate

Car engines have spark plugs that ignites a mixture of fuel and air in the cylinder. Diesel engines rely on a high rate of compression. Diesel engines compress the air until it attains a high temperature so fuel ignites as soon as it’s injected into the cylinder.

Cost

While diesel fuel is typically more expensive than regular gas, it packs a bigger punch in terms of the energy it produces. That makes it more cost effective for heavy haulers that transport heavier loads.

Torque

The energy produced by diesel fuel is known as torque and is measured by the twisting force exerted on the engine. Torque is required for the force behind the engine. An engine may have a significant amount of horsepower, but without torque, it won’t have the power needed to get up to speed, maintain a steady speed, or pull a trailer and cargo.

Less Maintenance

Diesel engines are built to tougher specifications than gas engines. The engines are more reliable and require less maintenance than an ordinary gas engine.

Fuel Efficient

Diesel engines are actually more fuel efficient than the average passenger vehicle, relatively speaking. A fast car is rated in horsepower and is able to attain higher speeds in less time. Diesel engines are designed to produce enormous amounts of power to haul the heavy loads that heavy haulers are required to transport, while being able to maintain steady speeds.

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How to Calculate a Safe Speed with Your Heavy Haul

You often see heavy haulers on interstate highways and the speed at which they’re traveling can be a mystery for other drivers. Some drive the speed limit or more, while others are driving at a more sedate speed. There are actually calculations that are used to determine the speed that a heavy hauler travels.

Safe Speed

Rule of Seconds

Tractor-trailer loads require more time to stop than other vehicles and use the “rule of seconds” in terms of time to govern their speed. If you’re moving at 40 mph, you need to maintain at least 1 second of distance for every 10 ft. of your vehicle length. If you’re driving over 40 mph, you need to add at least 2 seconds and the seconds increase depending upon the length of your vehicle. For instance, a 60 ft. tractor-trailer traveling at over 40 mph should add 7 seconds of distance for every 10 ft. of vehicle length.

Application of the Rule

It can be difficult to judge speeds of other vehicles, particularly on interstate highways. To calculate following distance, watch the vehicle ahead of you when it passes a fixed point such as a specific mile marker, sign, fence, or overpass. Count how many seconds it takes you to reach the same fixed point. Reaching the same point before the applicable number of seconds means you’re following too closely.

Hazardous Conditions

When driving in hazardous conditions such as rain, snow, ice or even high winds, you’ll need to expand the rule of seconds. Depending on road conditions you may have to expand the rule anywhere between 4 and 10 seconds. If you need to come to a full stop in any of those conditions, it will take significantly longer. Your reaction time and braking distance will need to be factored into those situations.

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Choosing the Right Exporter for Your Heavy Haul

Exporting your equipment overseas can seem like an overwhelming prospect, particularly if it’s your first time. It doesn’t matter whether it’s brand-new equipment or a used piece of machinery, you want it to arrive in top condition and in a timely manner. There will be a significant amount of physical and digital documentation needed and selecting the right exporter for your needs is crucial.

Exporter

Reputable Company

An experienced heavy haul company with a trustworthy reputation will ensure your shipment arrives safely, on time, and with all the required documentation. The company will provide tracking and complete logistical information, know the best port from which to ship, and have the tractor-trailer rig that best suits the type of equipment being transported.

Shipping Port

Don’t make the mistake of drawing a straight line between the equipment to be shipped and the nearest port. Departure times and shipping fees aren’t the same at every port. Those two variables can add significantly to the overall cost and will definitely affect the arrival of your shipment. A heavy haul company can help if you need a combination of shipping methods encompassing truck and rail transport or Ro-Ro or container shipping. The specialists will also know if a piece of equipment can be partially dismantled to provide savings.

Shop Around

Not every heavy haul company offers the same services or a full line of trailers upon which to transport your equipment or machinery. It’s always a good idea to obtain three quotes to compare, especially if this is your first export. Don’t wait until the last minute to begin your search for transport. Heavy haul companies are booked well in advance. The good news is that heavy haul companies also have an “off season” and you may be able to obtain better rates during that time if you can wait to ship.

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How Diesel Prices are Affecting the Heavy Haul Industry

Anyone wondering why they’re paying more for the food and goods they consume, one of the reasons is the higher cost of diesel fuel. When the cost of diesel increases, trucking companies pass the additional cost on to their clients. That cost is again passed on to the consumer for the items they purchase. The high price of diesel is affecting the heavy haul industry in multiple ways.

Diesel Prices

Everyone has been feeling the pain at the pump, and nowhere is that truer than for those in the trucking industry. Prices have increased for diesel fuel at a far greater and faster rate than regular gas. The war in Ukraine has resulted in more oil being exported to countries in the UK and South America. That’s increased demand for domestically produced fuel – it’s a matter of supply and demand.

Some trucking companies and independent truckers say their jobs are no longer profitable. It’s led some to leave the industry, placing a further strain on deliveries to outlets that are already experiencing pandemic-related supply chain issues. Drivers are working more hours and are more stressed as they try to make up for a loss in profits.

Truckers say the current level of diesel prices is making trucking an unsustainable industry. They’re predicting empty shelves across the nation as consumers fight for basic necessities. Drivers are reporting a greater number of diesel fuel thefts from trucks as prices increase. They warn of more companies going out of business in an industry that’s already experiencing a driver shortage of approximately 81,000.

Higher diesel prices mean the per-mile charge for the trucking industry has increased and its outstripping fuel surcharges. Big box stores that move the greatest number of goods factors in the cost of fuel in their on-the-shelf pricing and for their quarterly earnings.

The cost of diesel fuel is affecting all sectors of the trucking industry. It costs more to transport seeds and agricultural products, harvested food, and manufactured goods. Some manufacturing plants also use diesel fuel, further increasing an already stretched demand that’s affecting every aspect of the trucking industry.

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Calculating Heavy Haul Freight Rates

If you’re in need of a heavy hauler, you can certainly try to deduce the rates you’ll pay. It will give you a ballpark figure with which to work. However, the best route to deliver your property isn’t necessarily what appears to be the straightest line. That’s when the expertise of a logistic expert is invaluable. It’s particularly important if you’re shipping overseas.

Heavy Haul Freight

Heavy haul rates are calculated on a per-mile basis. Some heavy haul companies provide online calculators that can provide a general idea of costs, but there are other factors that need to be considered. For the most accurate quote, contact heavy haulers in your area. Many offer a free no-obligation quote.

One of those other considerations is the load’s ultimate destination. When shipping to international ports, the most direct route won’t necessarily ensure that your load will arrive at the correct time – some ports operate 24/7, but most don’t. There may be infrastructure obstacles, road construction, and roads that are unable to handle the weight of the load. There may also be delays in unloading.

Heavy haul providers are focused on the best and safest routes for the load that enables it to arrive at its destination at the correct time. The time of the year you ship will also affect your rates. Heavy haulers are often booked months in advance. They’ll need to provide the correct trailer for the load and weather may be a factor. Depending on the load, specialized permits may be required.

It’s essential that you keep in mind that a single inch in the height, width or length of what you’re shipping can add thousands to the amount of your transportation costs. It’s possible for you to get an idea of what your heavy haul freight rates will be, but it’s always better to contact a company directly if you want to have an exact figure.

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What is a Pilot/Escort Vehicle in Heavy Haul Trucking?

Known as a pilot vehicle or escort vehicle, it’s a passenger car or truck that drives ahead of an oversize load in the heavy haul trucking industry. Escort vehicles are equipped with a rotating light on the top of the vehicle and are required to have an oversize load sign prominently displayed to ensure the safety of others on the road, along with the cargo.

Escort Vehicle

An escort driver is utilized when the cargo of a heavy hauler exceeds the height, weight or width of a normal load. The driver of an escort vehicle is in constant communication with the truck driver, providing support and guidance.

Road conditions can change quickly and unexpected construction work is always an ongoing concern. Escort vehicle drivers have a variety of responsibilities. The drivers prevent damage to roads, bridges and other types of infrastructure by the heavy hauler. They must also be insured and have specific certifications.

Escort drivers are responsible for coordinating movement of obstructions such as traffic lights, signage and electric wires. They also connect with law enforcement when needed to direct traffic. Escorts minimize delays by avoiding heavy traffic areas when possible. The vehicle drivers also assist heavy haul drivers safely change lanes, enter traffic and make turns.

The primary responsibility of an escort vehicle driver is to collaborate with the heavy haul driver to keep them apprised of any obstacles or impediments that interfere with the fast and safe delivery of the cargo. The requirements for equipment that escort vehicles must carry vary by state and are based on the dimensions of the oversize load.

Some states require the escort vehicle to be in front of the heavy hauler, while others require them to follow behind the tractor-trailer, and some states require two escort vehicles – one in front and one in the rear. State or local police escorts may be mandated for loads that require a road closure or take up two lanes of road. A height pole car is required on the lead vehicle to measure the height of any obstructions.

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