Ocean and rail freight have limitations as to the geographical locations they can deliver goods to. As they depend on either rail or water to be able to reach their destination, trucks can reach any location as the roads they travel are present virtually everywhere. This gives trucks a huge flexibility as to the trade routes they can operate. In many transportation activities, trucking performs an essential role as an intermediary. As they are capable of connecting factories with transit centers. Form these transit centers the goods can then be distributed to different destinations and with different transportation means.
Trucks are capable of transporting both containerized goods as well as bulk. There are different types of trucks for transporting the different types of cargo.
Dump trucks are trucks designed to carry loose cargo such as sand or asphalt. They are capable of transporting the cargo to their destination which is in most cases a construction site. Once arrived the dump truck is capable of unloading the cargo by itself, by lifting the front-end hereby dumping the cargo behind the truck.
Tanker trucks are trucks designed to carry liquid goods or gasses. A tanker truck pulls a semi-trailer with a cylinder formed tank mounted on the trailer. They are most commonly used for transporting fuel. Where they are usually employed to deliver gasoline to filling stations. They can however also be used to transport milk, for example form farmers to the refineries.
Semi-trailer trucks pulls a semi-trailer, which is a trailer without a front axle. It depends on the truck to carry a large portion of the weight. There are different types of semi-trailers, ranging from a side lifter, to a container trailer, to a box trailer.
A side lifter is a specialized truck, used for transporting containers. These trucks are equipped with two cranes to be able to unload the container form its own trailer. A side lifter is able to unload its container to place it either on the ground, on another truck or load it onto a railway wagon. The ability to be able unload its own containers gives it a huge level of flexibility.
A container trailer is capable of transporting a forty foot container of two twenty foot containers. A container trailer itself is only an undercarriage capable of carrying a container. The containers and subsequent cargo can thus easily be transferred, by unloading a current container and loading a new one on to the trailer. The containers must be loaded with special cranes or vehicles and are therefore bound to terminals and transit centers where this equipment is available.
A box or van trailer is a encompassing trailer that can transport freight, which must be loaded through the back or through the side, depending on the material of the truck. With this type of trailer the sides of the truck will either consist of aluminum of light steel or a strong type of canvas. A trailer with aluminum sides only has the ability to load its freight through the back. These trailers are however capable of better protecting the cargo against for example weather conditions as these trucks can be equipped to control the climate, whereas this is difficult to maintain with canvas. A trailer with canvas sides has the option to open the sides of the trailer and load the freight through the sides. This can result in much quicker loading of the freight compared to backdoor loading.
A road train is a specialized form of transporting freight by using a truck. Instead of a truck pulling a single trailer, this enables trucks to pull two or even up to four or six trailers. This makes for a more efficient method of transportation than regular trucking. This type of trucking mostly occurs in remote areas in countries such as Australia, USA, Canada and Argentina. In these remote areas there are no railways or waterways to transport large quantities of goods. Transportation is thus entirely depended on by road transportation. To increase the effectiveness trucking companies experimented with larger numbers of trailers to be able to transport more goods on single journey. Drivers of these road trains are specialist who have had extensive training to be able to safely and responsible operate these huge vehicles.
Pricing of Truck Freighting
A factor that can influence the costs of trucking are the fuel costs. Fuel costs represent a large portion of the total costs of truck freighting. It may range from 25 to 35 percent of the total costs. An increase in fuel costs will subsequently have an impact on transportation costs.
Trucks are bound to domestic fees for using highways throughout a country. As the usage of roads is becoming more intense, the maintenance costs is increasing along with it. As the heavy freight trucks are considered to be the most prominent factor for road deterioration, they will pay a higher fee for use of a nations road network. Also the increased level of pollution caused by these heavy freight trucks will increase the fees they are required to pay. As many governments are trying to influence trucking companies into using low-pollutant fuels and limiting-measures on their existing trucks, fees for trucks will increase. Another form of costs related to usage of the roads are tolls costs. Some countries will demand a toll for using certain highways, as a compensation for the maintenance of these roads. These costs may influence the price of truck transportation, or may result in trucks taking a route to surpass these toll-roads, which will result in a higher fuel use and thus higher price.