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Archives for Heavy Equipment Transporting

Heavy Hauling History

Heavy haulers are a common sight on highways across the nation, but that wasn’t always the case. Prior to the invention of the automobile in the early 1900s, “heavy haulers” consisted of horse-drawn wagons that transported items to a train depot where the freight continued its journey.

Heavy Hauling History

The regular use of heavy haulers began in the military during World War I. After the war’s end in 1918, the use and value of heavy haulers in civilian projects began to get traction. Early heavy haulers had iron and solid rubber wheels that damaged roads. Trucks were limited to 15 mph and weights of 18,000 to 28,000 lbs., depending on the state. Still, there were about 100,000 trucks on the road.

The need to transport goods and products during World War I increased and trains became congested. Improved roads during the 1920s and the introduction of the diesel engine, standardization of trailer sizes, power brakes and steering, and fifth wheel coupling systems boosted heavy haul use in the 1930s. The government began regulating the industry.

After the end of World War II in 1945, construction of the Interstate Highway System in the 1950s and 1960s spurred increased usage of heavy haul vehicles. The desire for more economical ways of transporting products and goods across the nation further increased use.

The 1960s and 1970s saw numerous songs written and films made that romanticized the trucking lifestyle and culture. As greater demands for goods and products increased, so did the need for heavy haulers.

There were over 26 million trucks in use by 2006. The number of accidents climbed as motorists didn’t understand the special requirements and blind spots of heavy haulers. Greater government regulation and safety standards were instituted. Heavy haulers have had a significant effect on the agricultural industry to green energy efforts. Heavy haulers continue to exert an enormous impact on the economy within the U.S. and in international trade.

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Professional Heavy Haul Logistics

The logistics of heavy haulers encompasses managing when and where loads are acquired. It includes how the loads are stored, the travel route, and when the load reaches its final destination – all while meeting any specific deadlines that apply. A trucking logistics expert also identifies the type of tractor and trailer that will best serve the client’s needs. The entire process is designed to increase efficiency and provide a greater level of safety.

Logistics

Simply put, the 7 Rs (“Rights”) of Logistics are: Getting the Right product, in the Right quantity, in the Right condition, at the Right place, at the Right time, to the Right customer, at the Right price.

The basis for today’s logistics is due to ancient Roman and Greek wars. Rome developed highly accurate and efficient methods of allocating resources and ensuring supplies arrived to troops. World War I brought refinements to the system, but it wasn’t until after World War II that logistics moved out of the military realm and into the private sector. Logistics is an integral and essential part of the distribution and supply chain in today’s economy.

Prior to the 1900s, the supply chain was primarily local in nature with little need for complex logistics. That began to radically change in the 1960s. The availability of modern technology has changed the logistics landscape in multiple ways. Today’s trucking logistics are handled by a combination of software, tracking devices, sensors, GPS and radio frequency identification (RFID) via the internet.

Modern logistics enables the system’s manager to locate and track a truck and/or its cargo across nations, oceans and continents. The computer-enhanced logistic methods enable heavy haul companies to travel over optimal routes, avoid areas of congested traffic, and deliver more efficiently. Even social media is having an impact on logistics through customer communication.

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Following Heavy Haul Chain Laws

Almost every state has its own set of chain laws for when tire chains can be used, should be used, or must be used, along with when they’re prohibited. In certain areas of the country, the rattle and clank of tire chains on vehicles was a familiar sound and considered essential in snowy states. Some states require heavy haulers to carry tire chains at all times, while others don’t. There are also laws governing how many chains should be utilized and their placement.

Weather Conditions

Tire chains are typically utilized in higher elevations where snow and icy conditions can occur at any time, especially during winter months, or if a snow emergency has been declared. Requirements vary widely and fines may be issued for inappropriate usage, depending on the state chain laws. For instance, CA doesn’t require drivers to carry chains, while CO requires chains, and allows pneumatically driven chains and wheel sanders.

Chains

To comply with regulations, some states require at least eight chains, and some only mandate tire chains on the tractor’s tires. Some states mandate tire chains on all four tires of the main drive axle, chains on the outside tires of the second drive axle, and the option to place the remaining chains anywhere the driver designates. In some instances, tire chains are only required when driving upon specific routes.

Chain Laws

Further complicating when tire chains should or shouldn’t be used is state law. Heavy Haul truckers need to be aware of the chain laws in the state in which they find themselves. Some states reserve the right to issue snow emergencies for all of the state or in limited areas, which will directly affect whether heavy haulers employ the chains. Even with chains, state police have the authority to order truckers off the road during a snow emergency.

It’s a good idea for any heavy haul trucker to carry tire chains if they’re transporting cargo within states where winter snows are common or in higher elevations. They’re an essential tool for obtaining traction on snow and ice, and enhance safety.

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Can Heavy Haul Loads Damage Local Roads?

The simple answer is yes, heavy haul loads damage local roads. Heavy hauler traffic has increased significantly over the decades and the loads are heavier. Cargo was typically shipped by rail when the majority of local and even the interstate highway system was created. The infrastructure of local roads and bridges that heavy haulers travel on weren’t designed to accommodate the heavy weights of current cargo being transported.

Infrastructure

Once a shining example of what a nation could accomplish, the road and bridge systems in the U.S. are nearing their end of life. That’s been amply demonstrated by bridge and road collapses across the nation. The type of materials with which local roads are constructed also play a role in how much damage a heavy hauler may inflict. New roads and repairs are being performed in the cheapest way possible.

Roadways and Heavy Haul Loads

Pavement is typically designed to last for 20 years. An influx of heavier farm equipment, heavy haulers, and even local passenger vehicles has narrowed that lifespan to an estimated 7 years. The financial resources for maintaining those roadways haven’t kept pace with the damage done to local roads and funds are often used ineffectively or inefficiently.

Much of the degradation to roads is due to neglect. Legislators have failed to plan for the expense associated with increased traffic and material costs, preferring to place roads low on their list of priorities. Damaged roads and bridges increase maintenance costs for vehicles, constitute a safety issue, and contribute to high insurance rates.

Weather

Extremes in weather also play a part in damage to local roads. Potholes, cracked pavement and washouts exacerbate the demise of roads and it’s compounded by heavy haulers and others that use the roadways. Climate change will intensify the problem and should act as an incentive for all legislative bodies to act on the situation.

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What is a 5th Wheel Trailer?

Many people have heard the term “5th wheeler,” but few know what it means. Essentially, it’s a way for semi tractors to connect to the trailers they’re hauling. Some travel trailers and recreational vehicles are also called 5th wheel trailers. In the trucking industry, the “5th wheel” refers to the U-shaped coupling plate that’s mounted on the tractor that will pull a specialized trailer. The plate enables the trailer to rotate for an additional level of maneuverability in tight spaces.

Origins of 5th Wheel

The term 5th wheel is a play on words that originated during the use of horse-drawn carriages and wagons in days long past. In the event that a wheel was broken, a fifth wheel was traditionally attached to the back of the carriage or wagon.

In the early 1900s, the term fell out of general usage when passenger vehicles came equipped with a fifth wheel that became known as the spare tire. The full-size tires eventually gave way to “donut” spares in the 1980s, an attempt to save manufacturers money and increase fuel efficiency.

Trucking Industry

In the trucking industry, the 5th wheel coupling has been utilized for almost 100 years. The assembly provides an enhanced level of safety when transporting heavy loads and it’s especially effective for heavy haulers. A 5th wheel assembly offers enhanced stability and handling for both tractor and trailer in adverse weather conditions or damaged roads. The coupling method provides ease of use for connecting and disconnecting trailers from tractors.

A 5th wheel assembly provides a more stable and secure coupling between the tractor and trailer than a gooseneck hitch and it’s also quieter and smoother. The use of the 5th wheel coupling is an essential component for heavy haulers. User-friendly, technology-assisted 5th wheel connections and disconnects are becoming more common as new drivers enter the industry, many of whom have no previous connection to the trucking industry.

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Why Heavy Haul Trucks Need Regular Inspections

Inspections help ensure safety for heavy haul truckers and they take great pains to ensure that tractors and trailers are maintained in optimal condition. Heavy haul trucks aren’t like other vehicles. The tractors and trailers used by heavy haulers are subject to stress forces that ordinary vehicles never encounter. If something goes wrong with a heavy hauler, the resultant accident will typically be far more serious than two ordinary passenger vehicles.

Every commercial carrier is required to inspect the tractor and trailer before and after every haul. Each trucking company has its own internal preventative maintenance and safety inspection schedule that can range from every 4 to 12 weeks. Much will depend on the mileage, type of work that’s being performed, and the terrain over which the vehicle travels.

Inspections

The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires yearly inspections encompassing a variety of systems from brakes, steering and lighting to tires, windshield wipers and the engine. Emergency systems, the battery, exhaust and suspension are inspected and the operator’s CDL and other driver requirements are examined. There are six levels of DOT inspections:

  • North American Standard Inspection
  • Walk-Around Driver and Vehicle Inspection
  • Driver Only Inspection
  • Special Inspection
  • Vehicle Only Inspection
  • Enhanced NAS Inspection for Radioactive Shipments

Reputable heavy haul companies adhere to a regular regimen of preventative maintenance for tractors and trailers. Many employ a multi-point checklist that can include over 100 items. In addition to ensuring safety for others on the road, it’s a cost-savings measure for the tracking company. It extends the life of the equipment and reduces the potential for expensive emergency repairs. Regular mechanical inspections also ensure more uptime for trucks and trailers.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires that maintenance schedules for the vehicle be maintained for at least one year while the vehicle is being used and for 6 months after being decommissioned. Regular inspections save time, money, and prevents the company from running afoul of the DOT.

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6 Tips for a Successful Haul

Successful hauling requires some planning. Individuals that have engaged heavy haulers have probably learned that working with a reputable heavy hauler company is much easier than trying to perform the relocation themselves. It doesn’t matter whether a load is being transported down the street or cross country, there are some essentials when it comes to getting a load from point A to point B without difficulty.

Those needing the services of a heavy hauler should never wait until the last minute to schedule transportation. Due to their high level of expertise, heavy haulers are in great demand and the type of trailer required may not be available. Cost fluctuations also occur. New heavy haulers will need to keep the following tips in mind.

Successful Haul Tips

  1. Know the Details

Drivers need to know every detail of the haul to ensure safety and ascertain the type of trailer that will best suit the customer’s needs. Precise details about the item to be transported and its weight, width and height are critical. The haul may require an escort vehicle or for the cargo to be partially dismantled.

  1. Trailers

There are different types of trailers and not all types are appropriate for every job. Each type of trailer has its own function and choosing the right trailer for the job mitigates the potential for accidents and unforeseen circumstances.

  1. Picking Up or Dropping Off

Some heavy hauls require cranes, forklifts or rigging equipment that may only be available at certain times. Even the drop off or pickup site may only be operational at certain times.

  1. The Route

Sometimes the most convenient route from the pickup point to the drop off isn’t a straight line. Traffic may be lighter on some routes, while construction on another route will cause delays. Low overpasses and lightweight bridges are always to be considered. Depending on the cargo, an escort vehicle may be required for a successful haul.

  1. Permits

The number of required permits can be overwhelming, depending on the destination. Each state has its own rules and regulations and drivers will need to comply with all the prevailing laws of the states through which the cargo will pass through.

  1. Load Security

It’s the responsibility of the heavy hauler to ensure that loads are secured and in the proper manner. Doors and compartments on equipment should be securely fastened and tarps may be required.

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Long Distance Haul

There’s a lot of responsibility attached to being a long distance haul driver and a myriad of rules that drivers must obey. Safety is always a top priority and the rules are designed to ensure the safety of drivers, their cargo and other motorists. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration updated their regulations and the new rules went into effect on Sept. 29, 2020.

Hours-of-Service

Heavy haul drivers have a maximum limit of 11 hours per day that they can drive after 10 consecutive hours off duty. However, after coming on duty, they can’t drive past 14 consecutive hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off duty time doesn’t extend the 14-hour period. Simply put, drivers can now drive for a maximum of 14 hours per day with 10 hours off during a 24-hour period. Long haul drivers can extend that 11 hour driving window into 14 when they encounter adverse driving conditions.

30-Minute Break

Drivers are required to take a 30-minute non-driving break if they’ve been on the road for a period of 8 cumulative hours.

Sleeper Berth

Trucks equipped with a sleeping berth enable drivers to split their 10-hours of non-driving time in different ways, but it must include one 2-hour off-duty period. Non-driving time must add up to 10 hours.

Work Week for Long Distance Haul

Drivers can work a 60-hour work week over the course of 7 days or a 70-hour work week over the course of 8 days. Under the new rules, the clock runs continuously each day and doesn’t stop when drivers take a break. Drivers can restart a work week after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.

Choosing Rest Stops

Not all rest stops on federal highways provide specific space for heavy haulers, bathroom/shower facilities, drinking water, or snack machines. It’s critical that drivers take breaks at locations that provide ample space for truck and trailer maneuverability, along with those that ensure the safety of the cargo.

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Preventing Cargo Theft

Many drivers think cargo theft will never happen to them, yet it does happen and the frequency is increasing. Cargo theft is a $15 to $35 billion industry and thieves are continually devising new ways to make off with cargo in quicker and more efficient ways. While theft can happen anytime, most occur on weekdays, with the highest number taking place on Monday and Friday.

Due to the nature of the crime, few arrests or convictions are ever made and most cargo theft takes place in-transit. According to the FBI, the top 10 states with the most cargo thefts in descending order are: CA, TX, FL, IL, NJ, GA, AL, NC, IN and MO. The most frequent targets in 2020 was food, beverages and pharmaceuticals. However, there are measures that companies can take to lessen the risk.

Screen Employees

A background check on potential hires should always be conducted on everyone from office workers and warehouse employees to drivers.

Employee Training

It’s essential for companies to train their employees in the ways that theft occurs and how to thwart it. Drivers must receive training on ways to reduce the risk, such as keeping trucks in sight, checking cargo before departing after a stop, and what to do if they’re victims of cargo theft. Instruct drivers on safety precautions such as avoiding hot spots, only stopping at secure locations, and not leaving cargo unattended.

Security Measures

There are numerous security measures that can be implemented at the company, from security guards and CCTVs to high-tech keycard entry systems. Alarm surveillance systems can be installed, along with high security rear door locks on trailers. Security also includes conducting audits to identify any holes in the supply chain that could give thieves and opening.

Transportation Partners

Heavy hauler companies work with a variety of partners and background checks should also be conducted on them. Ensure that any partner company maintains its own background checks and has the same security philosophy.

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Best Ways to Transport Heavy Equipment

There are many ways to transport heavy equipment and some are much better than others. Safety is a prime concern when hauling heavy equipment and the method of transport will depend largely on the type and size of the machinery being transported. Most people automatically picture a standard flatbed trailer and while it can work for some things, it’s not necessarily the best choice for every piece of equipment.

Transport Heavy Equipment

There are multiple variables to consider when having heavy equipment hauled. Those include weight, height, length and width. Many types of heavy equipment can be disassembled so it’s easier to move and doesn’t exceed legal dimensions to become a super load. There are also multiple trailer types that professionals may use, reliant upon the equipment to be hauled.

Double Drop

The most popular method of transport for heavy equipment is one with a bed that’s lower in the middle than on either end. Especially popular for hauling track machines, the advantages are that it creates a cradle with a lower center of gravity and also aids in keeping loads below height limits. If a piece of the equipment must be detached, there’s also room to haul it separately on the same trailer.

Drop Deck Flatbed

A drop deck trailer is exactly as it sounds. It’s a trailer that’s designed low to the ground and has two deck levels. It’s equally appropriate for moving heavy equipment that might exceed height limits. The deck drops down after clearing the tractor.

Sliding Axle Trailer

Another option for transport heavy equipment is a sliding axle trailer. The trailer doesn’t require ramps for loading equipment and has the ability to lower and tilt the bed for specialized loading of equipment. An example would be pavers. The machines require a 6-degree angle for loading and this type of trailer makes any piece of equipment easy to load. It also provides maximum deck space.

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