How to Choose a Specialized Carrier
Q: What qualities should a shipper look for in a specialized carrier?
A: A shipper's evaluation should include people, processes, and performance. Specialized freight is often unique, high-value, and critical to the shipper or consignee operation, unlike many other commodities. Carriers with a history and reputation of safe, on-time and claim-free deliveries are the carriers a shipper should consider using to move their freight.
The carrier's drivers should be able to demonstrate their experience in handling the specific type of specialized freight to be hauled. The carrier's staff, as well as the drivers, should be knowledgeable of the planning, permitting, and route survey process, as well as each state's rules and regulations, such as weight/dimension limitations, drive-time restrictions, and escort requirements.
The "one size fits all" approach does not work with oversized, overweight or specialized shipments. A qualified carrier will have the people and a proven process to help a shipper develop a customized transportation plan fitting the requirements of their shipment.
Q: What qualifies a driver to haul heavy, over-dimensional freight?
A: It takes more than passing a class or going through a training course to qualify a driver to transport overweight and/or over-dimensional loads. Depending upon the commodity, it can take years of experience handling increasingly complex types of freight to be recognized as a skilled and successful heavy haul driver. Proper securement will vary based upon commodity, which requires the operator to possess the correct equipment to secure the cargo effectively while meeting regulatory standards.
A specialized carrier should have programs in place to make sure its customers have the benefit of a process to ensure that only qualified drivers are handling their specialized commodities. Such a process may require a driver to have experience with generic flatbed or stepdeck loads before moving up to multi-axle or more specialized trailers.
Landstar, for example, has seen success from its use of a graduated process allowing its operators to progressively elevate the level of specialization they are eligible to provide its customers, up to and including having a long combination vehicle (LCV) certification.
Q: What kind of support should a heavy haul carrier offer their customer?
A: Shippers turn to heavy haul transportation providers to manage the logistics of their oversized, specialized freight because these types of loads may require a lot of planning and coordination that often requires expertise or is too labor intensive for a shipper to handle on their own.
Another important factor a shipper should consider when choosing a heavy/specialized carrier is the carrier's access to capacity and specialized trailers. Any qualified heavy haul transportation provider should have access to a wide array of equipment such as flatbeds, stepdecks, double drops, multi-axles, lowboys, extendable trailers, and so on.
Additionally, all equipment should adhere to the carrier's inspection requirements to ensure a safe, compliant, and successful transit. Given their importance, these shipments warrant a level of due diligence of any provider.