Inspired by the old covered wagons of the 1690s, Conestoga trailers provide the best of two worlds and offer some key advantages for shippers.1 The trailers utilize a moveable tarp system to maximize space for a large variety of loads, which has made them one of the most in-demand specialized trailers in the industry. When compared with other specialized trailers, there are some key advantages of Conestogas that resonate with shippers.
Loaded, But Not Limited
A typical van trailer offers three solid side walls, a roof, and doors for shelter and security, while a flatbed trailer provides quick, unrestricted access to all sides of a load, but both trailers tend to be limited when it comes to the freight they can handle. Combining the unrestricted ease of access and open sides of a flatbed trailer with the security and containment of an enclosed trailer, Conestoga trailers unique efficiencies for drivers who no longer have to struggle with handling tarps or worry about bad weather disrupting their deliveries.2 Although Conestoga trailers are specialized for heavy and large loads, they are not limited to those loads alone and can handle a wide variety of freight. The most common loads for Conestoga trailers are:3
- Specialized loads
- Odd-sized loads
- Large items
- Lumber, plywood, and particle board
On top of providing flexibility for a variety of freight, Conestogas also provide a useful solution when loading docks are occupied or non-existent. The moveable tarp system can retract in any direction allowing for ease of access by multiple forklifts if necessary. Further, independent access to all parts of a load at any point along a route means multiple drop loads are easily achievable from a single Conestoga trailer.4 All of these features allow drivers to be in and out and back on the road much quicker than standard flatbeds or vans.
Increasing efficiencies in the transportation industry is critical for shippers and utilizing Conestoga trailers to move their freight can be a big advantage on the road. With the ability to switch between flatbed-style loads and enclosed van loads, Conestoga trailers can enable shippers to serve a more diverse market boosting their bottom line, while helping to lower maintenance and insurance costs. Independent access to all sides of the trailer also allow drivers to add backhauls to the trailer without blocking access to freight that has yet to be delivered, creating a unique advantage for both shippers and their customers.5
In addition to these benefits, Conestoga trailers also allow drivers to transport loads in a time-efficient way. Instead of wasting time moving heavy tarps on and off a flatbed, drivers can simply strap down their load and shut the moveable curtain tarp for much quicker and efficient deliveries. When it comes to enclosed van deliveries, having the independent access to all sides of the trailer with a Conestoga can maximize delivery routes into time-saving, streamlined operations.6
Due to their specialized nature and features, Conestoga trailers are a bigger investment for shippers, but partnering with a 3PL provider could help alleviate the added costs of purchasing and maintaining their own assets. 3PLs offer dedicated fleet solutions that include specialized trailers such as Conestogas, which can expand shippers’ capabilities and increase efficiencies in their supply chain.