Flatbed Freight Shipping: A Beginner’s Guide

flatbed freight shipping, flatbed shippingAt some point, a broker may suggest flatbed freight shipping. This is a term that few people are familiar with. Here is some helpful information about the ins and outs of this method and why it’s often the recommendation for many machine tool transport companies.

What Is Flatbed Freight Shipping?

A flatbed is a type of trailer designated for machine tools, cars, and construction vehicles. The trailer may be necessary for transporting freight that may not fit within the confines of a typical LTL truck.

Many machine tools, such as commercial metal lathes, hobbing machines, and drill presses are exceptionally large and irregularly shaped. These require transport on an open flatbed trailer.

Preparing Your Freight for Flatbed Shipping

When speaking with a broker, provide as much information as you can about your freight. This helps the broker determine whether a flatbed is necessary and if so, which type. The nature of the freight also determines other shipping requirements. For example, some freight may require a tarp. Continue Reading →

Pallets Vs Crates: Which Is Best for Your Machine Tool Transport?

pallets vs. crates

An item is seldom loaded as is onto a truck. Most carriers and linehaul shippers require placement on a pallet or skid or in a crate. This leads to the discussion of pallets vs crates. Which method is ideal for your next scheduled transport?


Crates are essentially wooden boxes. Manufacturers usually provide custom crates so they accommodate your machine tools perfectly without using excess space.

Compared to pallets, crates provide more protection since the machine tool is completely enclosed inside a wooden frame. One drawback, though, is that crates are heavier than pallets, which may add to the shipping cost. Fortunately, most crate manufacturers now offer corrugated crates, which are lighter in weight. Another option is a frame crate, which is exceptionally sturdy and intended for storing heavy objects.


Pallets are usually the go-to option by default. They are readily available, sturdy, and convenient. They are especially useful for transferring items in bulk. They are also easily transportable using a pallet jack or forklift. 

In place of pallets, some people opt to use skids instead. Skids are similar to pallets but lack the bottom deck. This makes them less mobile but allows them to serve as a good long-term base and foundation for heavy machinery.

Pallets Vs Crates at a Glance

If maximum safety of your equipment is priority, then go with a crate. If convenience and saving money is your concern, then you can’t go wrong with pallets.

Keep in mind that most truck load line haul services have regulations regarding how pallets and crates must be prepared.

We Help You Prepare Your Next Outbound Shipment

Contact Machine Transport to schedule your next freight transport. We connect you with a carrier best suited to your needs. Request a quote today. Study the differences between crates and pallets to determine which is most efficient for your shipment.

North American Machine Tool Transportation

Serving manufacturing industries throughout North America

What Are Transportation Accessorial Charges?

transportation accessorial charges, transportation accessorial fee

Depending on the carrier or linehaul shipper, some transport costs may include additional transportation accessorial charges. What is this excess fee and why is it a part of my invoice? Learn about this fee and when it may apply.

Transportation Accessorial Charges Explained

A carrier’s main job is driving. However, their duties extend beyond getting behind the wheel. They also have to load and unload trailers, prepare pallets, and make additional stops. These extra tasks usually aren’t a part of the per-mile rate. They shouldn’t be since this would be unfair to customers who perform these functions and have their shipments ready for the driver. The way to keep pricing fair is by charging a separate accessorial fee for customers who require such servicing. Accessorial charges may also apply when shipping to certain routes.

Examples of Accessorial Fees

  • Shrink wrapping: Accessorial fees may apply when the driver has to shrink wrap a pallet or rewrap a poorly wrapped pallet.
  • Pallet jack: Any loading or unloading by the driver that requires the use of a pallet jack may also accrue the additional charge.
  • Layovers: Layover fees are a form of accessorial charge. These usually only apply if the layover is due to the customer’s actions. An example is not having the shipment ready when the carrier arrives.
  • Truck Order Not Used (TONU): Sometimes, you may have to cancel a scheduled shipment. The contract may have an established TONU stating that you will be charged for canceled orders.
  • Non-dock deliveries: Some carriers may charge an additional fee if the destination does not have a traditional dock for loading/unloading.

Find the Right Carrier

Machine Transport will put you in contact with an appropriate truckload linehaul service or other carrier. We will go over contracts with you so you know about transportation accessorial charges and other provisions.

Dedicated and LTL for Machine Transportation

Serving Manufacturing Industries Throughout North America

A Primer on Limited Access Fees

limited access fee, outbound shipment fee

When making an outbound delivery, a carrier may impose an additional surcharge that will appear on an invoice as a limited access fee. Many people question this charge, but it’s actually quite commonplace for certain types of machine transports.

The Limited Access Fee Explained

Carriers may impose a limited access fee due to any additional difficulties involved in the travel route.

What constitutes a more difficult route? The standards differ between carriers. However, destinations like construction sites and military bases may involve a more complicated than usual route. With military bases, for example, the driver may have to make a stop at a checkpoint. This includes a subsequent inspection of the cargo. This can add to the travel time, which is why a limited access fee may apply.

Are Limited Access Fees Valid?

Customers have questioned the legitimacy of limited access fees. Admittedly, some carriers and LTL shippers do not consistently impose the charge. Some shippers may also revise their policy on limited access fees. As such, clients may begin seeing the charge even though it never appeared on prior shipments to the same destination. 

Common Limited Access Sites

We already mentioned construction sites and military bases as examples of limited access sites. However, other destinations may also accrue the fee. Other common areas include:

  • Mines/quarries
  • Correctional facilities
  • Federal and state government buildings
  • Oil and gas fields
  • Power plants
  • State and national parks

Areas may also include non-commercial sites, such as private residences, apartments, farms, and self-storage units. These areas may only be accessible during limited hours, hence the surcharges.

We Pair You with a Compatible Carrier

As brokers, Machine Transport has no control over a carrier’s limited access fee policy. Most truckload line haul services will review their shipping policy with you beforehand. Limited access fees are only one of many factors that contribute to your total invoice fee.

Machine Transport All Over North America

Serving manufacturing industries throughout North America

How Does Partial Truckload Shipping Work?

partial truckload, partial truckload shippingWhen considering your next machine transport, factors like cost, travel route, and delivery time are all factors. For smaller items, you might only require a partial truckload rather than a full truckload. How does a partial shipment benefit your next outbound delivery?

What Is a Partial Truckload?

Industry insiders often describe a partial truckload as a middle-of-the-road option between LTL and dedicated truckload. It also goes by the name “volume LTL.”

With partial shipments, you do not need a freight class to acquire a rate. Freight must also consist of a minimum of six pallets or exceed 5,000 pounds. This is often the best option when you have more freight than a typical LTL can accommodate. The total freight, however, does not warrant a full or dedicated truckload, since that would not be cost efficient.

Partial Truckload Benefits

Partial truckloads have faster delivery times than LTL. Your freight is also all in a single truck for the entire duration of the transit. This means all freight is loaded and unloaded a single time. Plus, since partials don’t require a freight class, you avoid freight reclassification fees. Keep in mind, though, you will need to submit the freight’s exact dimensions. Continue Reading →

Headhaul Vs Backhaul: Do You Know the Difference?

headhaul, backhaulDo you know the difference between the terms “headhaul” and “backhaul”? Perhaps you are unaware that these terms even exist. Don’t worry if you do not since they are mainly relevant to workers in the carrier industry. However, knowing these terms could help you understand shipping fees and industry operations.

What Is a Headhaul?

Dedicated trucks and truckload transports don’t just charge by the distance or day of the week. They also charge depending on whether the load is a headhaul or a backhaul.

Most carriers prefer having an schedule filled with headhaul shipments. What does this mean? This indicates that a shipment goes to a nearby location, usually within the same city or just to a bordering town.

The main reason headhaul shipments are beneficial is that the close destination means a minimum return travel distance. The longer a truck travels without freight, the more money the carrier loses on overhead costs.

What Is a Backhaul?

A backhaul is a shipment made during the trip back home. Having ample backhaul shipments ensures minimal travel without freight. Truckers normally receive a dispatch for a backhaul en route from a headhaul. Backhaul shipment rates are generally lower. This favors customers, though for carriers this means a lower profit margin than a headhaul. Continue Reading →

What Is a Freight Broker Bond?

freight broker bondMachine Transport is a broker that connects companies throughout North America with line haul services. One of our resolutions for 2019 is for clients to get to know how we operate. To understand our operations, you must know how a freight broker bond works.

Freight Broker Bond Explained

A freight broker bond is tricky to explain. It’s basically a contractual agreement between three entities: the broker, the government, and a bond agency. The bond acts as an insurance policy for both carrier and customers.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) mandates that brokers like ourselves issue a broker bond. Why is the bond so important? It financially protects all involved parties. The bond ensures that you have a means to financially compensate the carrier if, for whatever reason, you cannot honor the contract. Likewise, it also protects customers if their goods don’t arrive on time, that is if their freight remains in transit limbo due to a fault by the broker. Continue Reading →

The Truth About Truck Driver Shortage in the Carrier Industry

truck driver shortage, truck driverThe U.S. is currently facing a truck driver shortage. The industry is facing a large number of turnovers. There are larger numbers of drivers leaving than new drivers entering the workforce. Learn what’s happening in the transportation industry and why so few people are taking jobs as truckers.

Trucker Driver Retention at All-Time Low

We don’t have precise figures with respect to machine transport carriers. However, the American Trucking Association estimates a shortage of about 51,000 drivers. Carriers and line haul shippers are even offering signing bonuses for new recruits and pay raises for current drivers. Yet, this is still not enough to offset the loss of much-needed, highly qualified drivers. Continue Reading →

Does Your Freight Require a Pilot Car Escort?

pilot car escort, pilot car, escort carDepending on the nature of your freight, your machine transport might require one or more pilot cars. When does a carrier require such escort services? We’ll explain the ins and outs of pilot cars and their general purpose.

What Is a Pilot Car?

The term “pilot car” refers to an escort car that accompanies an LTL truck or other carrier. A pilot car is usually a pickup, SUV, or van that accompanies the truck, either in front of it or behind it; sometimes an escort vehicle is necessary in both positions. People who operate pilot cars are trained professionals who do this type of work for a living. Escort car drivers are also in constant communication with the carrier driver during the journey.

The Role of Pilot Cars

Pilot cars may drive ahead and warn the carrier of potential street closures, accidents, or obstructions up ahead.

The pilot car’s job is also to alert surrounding motorists that the carrier is carrying extremely heavy or wide loads. Pilot vehicles may have signs at the rear warning drivers to maintain a safe distance. Continue Reading →

LTL Consolidation for Cost-Saving Efficiency

machine transportAre you maximizing efficiency with each outbound shipment? If not, your company is spending more money than necessary on machine transport. LTL consolidation is a way of improving efficiency by maximizing the available space on your LTL or flatbed trailer.

LTL Consolidation Explained

LTL consolidation is a set of established warehouse shipment practices that maximize shipping output. The goal is to save on overhead costs by reducing the total number of outbound shipments and reducing transit times.

LTL consolidation eliminates partial shipments. Partials arise when you have to send out freight via two or more separate shipments.

If a separate freight shipment has the same destination, does sufficient space exist on the trailer or truck bed for additional pallets? How can you arrange the space to accommodate extra smaller freight? Continue Reading →