The success of truck and trailer advertising can be traced back to the 1920's, when box trucks plying the jammed streets of New York city began displaying large logos and ad messages to catch the eye of the passing public. It was quickly recognized as a viable alternative to both billboards and print advertising. For decades after, logos and ads on solid-wall trailers were hand-painted in a costly, labor-intensive process that had to be renewed often. Road grime, chips and dents took their toll, and artistic and advertising value faded fast.
Both curtainside and sliding bow (roll-top) trailers are designed to expand your freight options in a single adaptable trailer. Both open up the bed of a standard flatbed to new profit opportunities that extend far beyond the conventional flatbed’s potential. And, perhaps best of all, curtainsiders and sliding bow trailers eliminate the time-consuming, hazardous requirement to tarp large loads—a perk that also makes it easier to recruit and retain professional drivers in an era of high turnover.
Discussions about the benefits of a curtain side trailer typically dwell on—no surprise—the curtains. The heavy-duty retractable curtain system rapidly retracts to convert an enclosed van into a flatbed with load/unload access from both sides and the rear. While versatility may be it’s main attraction, other components of a Roland curtainsider also warrant attention, particularly the one that’s on top of it all: the roof.
While a flatbed may spend most of its time awaiting oversized or odd-shaped loads that require three-sided open access, the fixed expenses of owning it keep on keeping on. Insurance, taxes and registration, regular maintenance and simply the space taken up by an under-utilized flatbed represent an ongoing outlay for many small freight firms. When flatbed loads materialize, increasingly there’s also the issue of having the right driver available; i.e., someone sufficiently experienced, physically able and just plain willing to take on the heavy, sometimes hazardous labor of tarping the load. While an enclosed van trailer can never stand in when you need a flatbed, similarly, the flatbed can’t accommodate conventional box freight, which may represent the most recurrent and substantial profit opportunities.
How A Curtain Side Trailer Helps Reduce Turnover and Attract New Hires
What one improvement could you make that would minimize downtime on the road, prevent driver injuries and reduce driver turnover? That’s a no-brainer: eliminate tarping. In an industry that strives to enhance on-road efficiency and improve working conditions for drivers, the timeworn drudgery of tarping loads increasingly seems like a throwback to a bygone era. Back in the day of fewer options, the arduous, time-consuming process of covering large flatbed loads with tarps was accepted as business as usual. Today, however, the ever-increasing presence of curtain side trailers on the road openly refutes that outmoded assumption.
Aircraft engine transportation is a specialty in both the freight being hauled and the equipment required to do it in compliance with strict standards. A curtain side trailer is one of the elements uniquely suited to this very unique load. While it’s definitely specialized cargo, depending on your location, the profitable opportunity to haul a large aircraft engine may not be a rare occurrence: Big aircraft engines are often swapped out rather than repaired on the plane, in order to save time and get a working airplane back into the air, ASAP. Consequently, airlines and airplane manufacturers routinely have replacement engines in transport all around the country and around the world. A curtain side trailer along with the very specific expertise to meet the demands of the job opens up this money-making specialization.
Are you passing up profit opportunities because the sole trailer you own and operate is a flatbed? At the time you purchased it, committing to a flatbed alone may have seemed like the most viable option to maximize available freight. Perhaps the reality of the market has changed or the nature of the loads—tarping requirements and other drawbacks—has made owning and operating a flatbed alone a less attractive strategy than it once was. On the other hand, the expense of adding a conventional van and paying upkeep, insurance and storage costs on two separate trailers doesn’t make good business sense, either—particularly considering that one of the two will always be sitting idle and unused.
Optimizing fleet efficiency means acquiring more efficient trailers as well as making more efficient use of existing trailers. Buying curtainside trailers can be one strategy that addresses both issues. Fine-tuning the fleet mix to meet the freight demands of any given day—not to mention the unforeseeable future—requires flexibility and getting maximum use out of what you’ve got already. If your fleet includes too many flatbeds simply taking up space on the lot waiting for a rare oversized load, or a conventional van trailer that sometimes sits idle because shipments require side-loading, you’re not operating at maximum efficiency.
The good news is that flatbed trailers are versatile and adaptable to loads that vary in both size and weight. The bad news? Over 60 percent of flatbed loads require comprehensive tarping. Manually tarping flatbeds is an ergonomic nightmare and a worker's comp attorney’s dream. The requirement to heave unwieldy tarps as heavy as 100 pounds while perched precariously atop a flatbed excludes many otherwise competent professional drivers from hauling flatbed jobs. It's also a major turn-off to potential new hires, as well. It is no wonder that curtain side trailers—which totally eliminate the need for manual tarping—have achieved major market penetration in the U.S. trucking industry, in a relatively short time.
The importance of inspecting incoming shipments for freight loss/damage
Although inspecting incoming shipments pertains to any shipping, obviously we hope it also helps the shippers using a curtain side trailer and/or a curtainside van as part of their fleet. Inspecting incoming freight protects all parties in the event any issues arise during or after the shipping process. Freight in motion is by nature subject to some level of risk. Damage and shortages may occur for any number of reasons—mostly inadvertent, but not always. It’s in your best interests to inspect everything that crosses your dock, then sign it off in writing.