Shipping Unconventional Items: How Specialized Freight is Transported

Every day, trucks cruise by us on the highways and interstates of the world. What’s inside?

Usually it’s food, electronics, clothing, building materials, and other common items that you’d find on a store shelf. But what about the not-so-common items?

Ever look at the massive propellor on an aircraft and wonder – how did that get there? Ever hear about the sensitive chemicals used in lab and industrial settings, then think – how would you even move that safely?

Today we’ll cover some of the practices that commercial truckers and other shippers use to move items that are huge, dangerous, perishable, or even alive.

Heavy Freight: Machines, Massive Components, and More

While the trailers of commercial trucks are quite roomy, they’re made for conventional goods.

But what about enormous engines that power industrial operations? What about passenger or construction vehicles? What about the towering electrical components on your local power station?

These items and others like them rely on flatbed or step deck trucks, which are reinforced with specialized equipment to secure the cargo in place. But the vehicle itself isn’t all that’s different here – the logistics aspect changes too.

For starters, if the shipment is so large it takes up multiple lanes of traffic, it could potentially have a passenger truck lead it to alert oncoming drivers.

It’s also possible for entire sections of infrastructure to be shut down for exclusive transport. This is one reason that shipping unconventional items requires more planning than normal shipments, much like those that use double or triple trailers.

Drop offs and pickups can also be coordinated with other modalities, like having planes or boats take some large items part of the way. It’s also common for flatbeds and step decks to exchange freight with rail shippers – all three options are used here at Hermes.

Perishables: Food Items, Medicine, and Frozen Freight

How many items do you have in your house that require special storage conditions so they won’t spoil?

From milk and frozen meals to life-saving medicines, a lot of the perishable items we rely on must travel for hundreds or even thousands of miles before they get to us. How do they do it?

While shipping large items poses a space issue, this category is much more about the conditions the freight must be stored in. Just like these items must be kept in specific temperatures or sterile environments once they reach their destinations, the same is true in transit.

Trucks can be fitted with freezers or special containers to accommodate the specialized freight. While the conditions may be set so that the freight is protected, time is still a factor just as a precaution.

When transporting perishables, it’s more important than normal to map out the most efficient route. The less delays and disruptions a driver experiences with time-sensitive freight in tow, the better.

These conditions can also be outfitted into planes and boats, allowing for the safe transport of sensitive freight between multiple modalities – as one would expect, it’s important for all these modalities to maintain uniform conditions.

Live Animals: Cattle, Chickens, Zoo Exhibits

As we discuss shipping unconventional items, the question constantly arises – “what counts as unconventional?”

But here, a better question might be – “what counts as an item?”

This category has arguably the most stringent requirements for specialized freight transport. That’s because moving live animals raises many ethical and safety concerns.

Moving an animal in an enclosed space could be very uncomfortable for it if the right conditions aren’t set. There’s also an added safety concern in the event of an accident.

Any commercial truck accident poses a big risk – but imagine a dozen spooked horses, or a hundred panicked chickens running out in between traffic on a busy highway.

The first two factors that must be considered are space and ventilation. Animals must have room to stand or sit without being cramped, plus they must be able to breathe fresh air. However, the finer details of the container’s design also factor in.

For example, there are specific guidelines for how the grooves on the floor must be set up – this is a recommended practice to make sure the hooves of horses or cows fit comfortably in between. The animals must also have access to food and water if the trip is long enough to necessitate it.

Different states may have their own guidelines for this, so it must be factored in when planning interstate trips This is also a situation where specialized personnel may be required to load and unload the freight.

Hazardous Materials: Flammable Liquids, Gas, and Pressurized Freight

Shipping unconventional items isn’t always about hoisting heavy machinery, packing ice, or herding livestock – sometimes, it’s the type of freight you can’t exactly get your hands on.

We all rely on gas and other fuels for everything from transport to home utilities. It’s such a popular type of freight, there’s an entire endorsement of the commercial trucking license dedicated to it. There’s two to be exact, the Hazmat/Tanker combo, and a standalone tanker endorsement.

While tankers could transport everything from water to syrup, the hazardous category would cover things like fuel, oil, and special chemicals.

Transporting anything of this type requires specialized training and a written test. Drivers must know what types of conditions and variables could pose a risk for their shipment, and how to respond in the event of an accident – for freight like this, every second is critical.

Shipping Unconventional Items with Hermes

At Hermes, we’re committed to getting the job done for the shippers who rely on us.

When you’re wondering how to get your specialized freight transported, we offer flatbed, step deck, refrigerated, rail, and more – we’ll help you get your item to the destination safely and quickly.

We’re also looking for talented drivers who can help us keep this commitment to our clients. Are you looking for a new career?

At Hermes, we value our drivers – including the ones who step up to make the long trips and help with shipping unconventional items. With competitive pay, safety bonuses, and high-quality equipment, we offer everything you need for a safe and rewarding journey. Ready to start? Contact us today.

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Join a team that is part of something bigger than ourselves. Together, we’re not just shipping freight, we’re moving the economy forward