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What is a Specialized Transportation Load?

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What is a Specialized Transportation Load?

If the term ‘specialized transportation load’ isn’t familiar to you, maybe you know it by another name. ‘Oversized transportation’; ‘critical freight delivery’; ‘heavy-haul trucking’; ‘super-load’; ‘time-sensitive shipments’; ‘overweight load’ and ‘over-dimensional load’ can all refer to specialized transportation – or at least different versions of specialized transportation loads.

Still, despite the many names, you still may not be clear on what specialized transportation loads means. From another point of view, specialized transportation loads are those that require some sort of additional handling, special equipment, specific packaging, etc. That additional handling can be due to the load being overweight, oversize, odd dimensions, needing climate-controlled delivery, require safe handling; and need specific clearances, among other criteria

Regular Specialized Transportation Loads

Many businesses must always use specialized transportation. One of the most common and easy to find specialized transportation requirements is temperature-controlled transport. Regularly needed in the pharmaceutical and food industries, ‘reefer trucks’ or refrigerated transports are common sights on our roads.

Unique or One-Off Specialized Transportation Loads

Even businesses who almost exclusively ship only regular loads may occasionally need to make unique, specialized shipping arrangements. If a shipment arrives damaged or incomplete, specialized time-sensitive expedite transportation may be needed to complete the shipment – and keep customers happy.

But the regular requirement by many businesses for occasional or ongoing expedite transportation also makes it relatively common.

There are cases where a transportation load may be one-of-a-kind. It’s not unusual to see news stories about transporting a historic artifact, vaccines, or a rocket ship. In those cases, the requirements might be so rare that the shipper will need to find a supply chain partner who is capable of determining and fulfilling all of the specialized requirements of transport.

Potential Logistics of Specialized Transportation Loads

It’s impossible to say what logistics are needed for every specialized transportation case. The final logistics for a load can depend on a wide range of factors, including specialized requirements for handling of the load, like in the case of hazardous materials, or specialized equipment needed to transport the load, like multi-axle transports for overweight loads.

The following list includes many – but not all – of the items you may need to consider depending on what you are shipping and the requirements for transporting it. We list them here just to give you an idea of the extent of the added logistics you may need to transport a specialized load.

Transportation Project Management

If your freight is particularly unusual, having never or only rarely been transported, and/or needing a number of specialized requirements, you may need to start with a project management team to plan and execute the shipment.

Transportation Feasibility Study

Again, in especially exceptional cases, you may need to conduct a transportation feasibility study. Study results can help you choose the right mode(s) of transportation and also lower your costs.

Transportation Plans and Procedural Controls

These will be unique to your shipment. They can include the finding of specialized equipment and/or personnel, like drivers certified on the equipment. You may also need specific instructions for handling and managing the load, like tie-downs to keep it secure in transit – or around-the-clock security.

Detailed Route Mapping

Especially for over-sized or odd-sized loads, you need to know they can pass along the entire route. You should also avoid high-risk areas, routes prone to traffic slowdowns, and any other potential disruptions to your shipment.

Complete and Secure the Correct Documentation, Permitting and Other Paperwork

From customs clearances to TWICs (transportation worker identity card) you may need a variety of documents to transport your cargo. Very little can unexpectedly stop a shipment faster than not having the correct documentation and identification.

Generally speaking, in North America, you need permits for loads that exceed the following specifications.

  • Widths over 8’6”
  • Height over 12’
  • Length over 55’
  • Weight over 50,000 lbs.

Alert Local Authorities

You may need to alert local police and fire services well in advance of your shipment passing through their jurisdiction.

Escort Vehicles

Especially if your shipment is extra wide or long, you may need to schedule escort vehicles.

If you found this post helpful, and want to learn more about avoiding shipping delays, check out our recent article Safeguard Your Business Against Shipping Disruptions.

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