Flatbed trucks are vehicles in which the trailer portion of the truck is a flat body or bed with no sides or roof to the trailer. Trucks of this type are considered ideal for transporting goods that need to be unloaded quickly from the sides as well as the rear. In most cases, the goods will be durable items that do not require protection of the elements during the transport from the point of origin to the point of delivery.
There are two classes of flatbed trucks in common use today. One class is known as a rigid flatbed truck. This model is a simple flat body or bed that is mounted on axles and is completely stationary. The sturdy bed is ideal for transporting items such as heavy construction machinery and equipment, as well as building materials like concrete blocks.
Articulated flatbed trucks also have the flat bed that is mounted on the series of axles, but these types of trucks are also equipped with mechanisms that make it possible to retract and tilt the bed when and as needed. Generally, an articulated truck is a good option when transporting heavy goods that are best unloaded by easing them off the bed of the trailer.
One example of an articulated truck is that of service trucks that are used to rescue stalled vehicles from the roadside. Flatbed trucks of this type are maneuvered into position, tilting the bed so the edge rests directly under the front tires of the stalled vehicle. Chains are attached to the undercarriage of the stalled car, and winches are used to guide the vehicle up the tilted bed. Once the vehicle is in position, the bed is returned to a flat position, the car is secured with more chains and support straps, and can be safely transported to a repair center.
The flatbed dump truck is another example of an articulated model. Sometimes used to transport sturdy building materials such as bricks, the dump truck can simply back up to a designated area and tilt the flatbed until the bricks fall off the bed and onto the ground. When done properly, this process does not damage the bricks and greatly decreases the amount of time spent in delivery.
Flatbed trucks can be used for both short haul and long haul trucking situations. It is just as easy to use the trucks to move goods across the country as it is to haul them a short distance. Many countries have specific regulations about how goods must be secured in place in order to move them using flatbed trucks. As with any type of trucking activity, failure to comply with these regulations can result in fines to the freight company and sometimes the revocation of the operating license of the driver of the truck.