The Differences Between Dry Van Shipping, Flatbed Trucks, and Refrigerated Freight

If you’re not yet sure what type of shipping method to use for your freight, learning about three of the common types can help you narrow down the choice. Dry van shipping, flatbed trucks, and refrigerated options are three top choices for shipping freight, and while they are somewhat similar, there are distinct differences between the three.

Dry Van Shipping

Dry van shipping refers to the vehicle or compartment used to haul shipments. In this case, the “dry van” is the trailer you see connected to trucks on the highway every day. They’re big, rectangular containers, essentially. They’re considered the most common type of freight transportation, and they’re designed to haul pallets or boxes of cargo, as well as most any other type of equipment.

There is no temperature control or other climate alterations within the dry van, which means if your freight needs to be refrigerated, this is not the choice for you. However, for items like consumer goods (clothing, some electronics, machinery, packaged foods, etc.) they are great, because they allow for a large amount of freight to be shipped at once in an organized and convenient manner.

Dry van trucking is often chosen for their convenience: In addition to being large and versatile, they protect cargo from bad weather, potential damage, and theft. They’re used for both full-truckload as well as LTL shipments—full truckloads can be scheduled with custom pick-up and delivery specifications, while LTL shipments can benefit from lower pricing thanks to freight consolidation.

No matter what type of products you’re shipping, as long as they aren’t required to be kept cold, dry van shipping can work for your transport needs.

Refrigerated Freight

Refrigerated LTL shipments are some of the most complex modes of transportation due to the limitations of time taken for the delivery and distance traveled. These shipments involve a refrigerated, temperature-controlled trailer that can be kept at temperatures for frozen products (0-10 degrees Fahrenheit) or refrigerated products (32-36 degrees Fahrenheit). Refrigerated LTL shipments ship at a temperature range, not at a specific degree, so if your product needs to be kept at a specific temperature while being shipped, this might not be the best option for your product.

Flatbed Trucks

These three methods of shipping freight are somewhat similar, but flatbeds are quite a bit different, in that they are trailers with no enclosures or doors. They can be loaded and unloaded from either the sides or above, which is ideal for oversized or irregularly shaped freight.