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Equipment Types and Sizes

vans and decks / trailers and straight trucks / dry and temperature-controlled

Equipment type

The required equipment type is determined by:

  • the nature of the freight to be transported;
  • the method by which it will be loaded / unloaded;
  • how it will be contained and secured while in transit;
  • its tolerance for variations in temperature and other environmental factors, and;
  • the degree of protection it requires from weather, road debris, and/or theft.

There are 4 primary types of cargo-carrying equipment:


Use: General freight, any cargo that can be skidded or floor-loaded with normal handling

  • More than 75% of the fleet
  • 4 walls, a floor and a roof
  • Entire rear wall is a door
  • Floor is normally 4.5 feet above grade, so dock-level access is preferred/required
  • Interior wall hardware is often added to permit decking, or to facilitate load restraint
  • Can be outfitted with a heater or refrigeration unit (reefer) to provide internal temperature control:
    • “frozen” – product can be kept frozen solid;
    • “protection against freezing” – can also be provided by a reefer;
    • “maintain fresh” – keeps food products cool, but not cold;
    • “specified temperature” – the reefer can be set to maintain a specific temperature or temperature range as required by some foods and some chemicals

Flat deck

Use: Heavy / bulky materials (e.g., lumber, steel) that are too large / heavy to be skidded and / or loaded through a rear van door;

  • A flat floor, usually reinforced to accommodate heavy point loads
  • Usually side-loaded from ground, or crane-loaded form above
  • Freight must be strapped or chained to sides of deck for load security
  • Deck heights vary, and different deck heights can be provided on a single unit (e.g., step deck, double drop)
  • When necessary, freight can be covered / protected with tarps
  • In lieu of tarps, the deck may be fitted with a form of removable walls, e.g.
    • Wooden panels with hoop-mounted tarps (covered wagon)
    • Retractable frame-mounted canvas walls, roof and rear (Roll-Tite)
    • Roll-up canvas walls with fixed roof, front and rear (curtainside)

Tank *

Use: Liquids and dry granular freight that are transported in large bulk quantities

  • A cylindrical (or near-cylindrical) tank
  • Can be designed for wet (liquid) or dry (granular) freight, but not both
  • Fitted with loading and unloading equipment (e.g., hoses, pumps, ports, hydraulic doors)
  • May have temperature control capabilities
  • Often very commodity-specific designs and applications


Use: Designed to carry cargo that is extremely large, heavy, awkward, difficult to load or Unload, requires special protection

  • Design and application is limited only by man’s imagination, the width of roadway allowances, and the strength of bridges

* Copper Run deals primarily with van and deck shipments. Because of the narrow application of each specific tank and specialized equipment design, the limited number of carriers offering each specific equipment type, and the very particular handling requirements of the freight that is shipped in these types of equipment, Copper Run refers customers requiring tank or specialized services directly to carriers who these types of equipment.

Equipment Size

The required equipment size is determined by the size and quantity of the freight to be transported, and by the length of the trip.

Equipment size ranges from small box trucks to the largest multi-section specialized units that will physically fit on public roads and highways. There are 3 equipment sizes in common use in North America:

Straight truck

  • self-propelled unit, without a trailer
  • characterized by a “short” cargo van or deck mounted on the same frame as the driver’s Cab
  • The cargo container or deck is typically 12′ – 28′ long, and is able to carry up to 13,000 lbs.
  • Most likely van size to be fitted with a tail-gate for ground-level loading/unloading
  • Vans can be configured with temperature control equipment
  • Decks can have removable walls
  • Usually used locally and regionally, rarely on trips of more than 500 miles.


  • the most common configuration on north american highways – the iconic “18-wheeler”
  • The cargo container or deck is 53′ long, and can carry up to 45,000 lbs., more in Canada
  • Van interior dimensions: length: 52″ 6′; width: 98″ – 100″; door clearance height: 108”
  • In some jurisdictions, axles can be added to significantly increase maximum legal payload
  • Vans can be configured with temperature control equipment
  • Decks can have removable walls.
  • Used for some local and regional work, but is the long-distance highway workhorse for both ltl and full truckload services

Multi-unit “long combination vehicle” (LCV) trains

  • two (or sometimes three) trailers pulled by one tractor
  • regional regulations vary extensively, so permissible trailer lengths and routes are jurisdiction-specific: LCV’s are not permitted on most highways
  • Used for both LTL and FTL services, where possible and practicable

Temperature Control

Dry Vans can be fitted with refrigeration (“reefer”) or heating (“heater”) units to provide internal temperature control, to maintain the shipment within one of several possible temperature regimes:

  • “frozen” – product (e.g., meat) can be kept frozen solid;
  • “protection against freezing” – product (e.g., liquids) can be kept from freezing in the winter;
  • “maintain fresh” – keeps food products (e.g., produce) cool, but not cold;
  • “specified temperature” – the reefer can be set to maintain a specific temperature or temperature range for temperature-sensitive products (e.g., foods, chemicals).