What is Specialized Freight Trucking?

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In freight transport, some loads require extra attention and support for safe, compliant delivery.

Many shipments can be reliably delivered with a standard trailer, reefer, or intermodal container. However, some loads need to be paired with special equipment. Whether the shipment is fragile or especially large, specialized freight trucking can help.

Let’s take a closer look at specialized trucking services.

What is Specialized Freight Trucking?

Specialized freight trucking is an umbrella term used to describe any goods that can’t be carried in a regular freight trailer.

To understand specialized freight trucking, it’s helpful to understand the distinction between general freight trucking and specialized freight trucking.

The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), which classifies business establishments across sectors for federal statistical agencies, explains that difference, on a general level, as follows:

“The [truck/transportation] subsector is subdivided into general freight trucking and specialized freight trucking. This distinction reflects differences in equipment used, type of load carried, scheduling, terminal, and other networking services.

NAICS further differentiates general vs specialized freight trucking in the following ways:

  • “General freight transportation establishments handle a wide variety of general commodities, generally palletized, and transported in a container or van trailer.”
  • “Specialized freight transportation is the transportation of cargo that, because of size, weight, shape, or other inherent characteristics, requires specialized equipment for transportation.”

There are laws and regulations applicable to shippers in the specialized freight trucking industry that do not necessarily apply to general freight trucking shippers. That’s because regular trucks and trailers often can’t accommodate specialized freight loads, both from a practical point of view and a legal point of view.

What Are Some Examples of Specialized Freight?

As Freight Center explains, a variety of items may require specialized freight trucking, including:

  • Delicate electronics and devices
  • Fragile robotics and industrial equipment and other complex machinery
  • Commercial refrigeration and restaurant equipment
  • Fixtures, furniture, and other potentially fragile household items
  • Military freight that requires special authorization
  • Motorcycles & automobiles
  • White glove services that involve packaging, moving, loading, and unloading cargo

What Equipment is Used in Specialized Freight Trucking?

The type of trailers and other equipment used for specialized freight trucking vary greatly depending on the type of specialized freight being transported.

Refrigerated trailers must be used for refrigerated goods. But this is just one example. A refrigerated box car is going to be very different from the hydraulics and vacuum systems required to prepare and unload shipments of bulk sand or minerals.

Since specialized trucking covers so many types of loads, there is a ton of variety in what equipment is required to transport each type of load. If you have questions about what type of equipment you need to ship your goods, Iraheta Bros can help.

Specialized Freight Trucking, Containers, and Drayage

Drayage, sometimes also referred to as intermodal trucking, generally involves a freight trucking component. But not all types of freight trucking — and that includes specialized freight trucking — are considered drayage.

Another way to look at this is to compare “over the road trucking”, or “OTR” for short, which includes specialized freight trucking, with intermodal transport, AKA drayage.

Our blog, OTR vs. Intermodal Trucking explains the many differences of these two types of trucking in-depth, but for the purposes of this piece, you should know that “…the trailers used are unique to each type of truck driving. OTR drivers carry a variety of trailers. Intermodal drivers, on the other hand, always work with shipping containers and the specialized chassis used to secure and transport them.”

What’s more, when it comes to intermodal trucking or drayage, the associated shipping containers are usually used to transport goods imported or exported via ocean freight. The emphasis is on containerized cargo movement. This does limit the type of goods that can be transported via drayage.

Can Specialized Goods Be Transported via Drayage?

Yes. That said, the feasibility of shipping specialized goods via drayage is heavily dependent on the specific specialized freight in question. Drayage providers often will partner with specialized shippers to arrange for the transport of different cargo loads.

How Can I Find a Reliable Drayage Partner?

Be sure to check the credentials of any drayage partner you’re interested in doing business with and check for any specific industries they partner with or their areas of expertise.

At Iraheta Bros, we were founded on the belief that loyalty to customers and drivers matter. We specialize in container drayage and short-haul transport of goods.

Feel free to check out the rest of our blog to learn more about us and see how we may be able to help you with your trucking and transportation needs.

What is Specialized Freight Trucking?