Heavy Haulage Transport: Low Loaders Vs. Flatbed Trailers

27 January 2016
 Categories: , Blog


When it comes to heavy haulage, low loaders and flatbed trailers are the most commonly used forms of transportation. Whether you need to move mining equipment, plant parts or construction materials, one of these haulage vehicles can get the job done. Below, find out how the two compare in regards to some important transport parameters.

Load bearing capacity

In regards to weight, both low loaders and flat bed trailers can haul massive loads without showing signs of stress. However, that aside, low loaders have a higher load bearing capacity because they have a lower center of gravity (C.O.G). In addition to that, their trays can be widened to accommodate wider loads, something that is not possible with flatbeds. Low loaders also have more axles in general, a feature that renders them more capable of handing bulkier weights.

Load stability

In terms of stability, the low loaders come out ahead of the flat bed trailers. Again, this is attributed to the lower C.O.G. A lower centre of gravity means that heavy loads will experience fewer movements when in transit. And even though rigging is always carried out, low loaders need less of it due to the edge brought about by the increased stability.

Road clearance

The design of a low loader is such that the main part of the deck is very close to the ground. This has both pros and cons. The main pro is that taller weights can be accommodated without exceeding maximum roof clearances. The main con is that low loaders can only move over very flat terrains as a result. Flat bed trailers, in turn, cannot carry very tall loads, as their trays are raised much higher. However, they have the benefit of being able to traverse over more difficult roads.

Due to the low clearance, low loaders cannot operate at high speeds. This is a safety issue aimed at preventing damage to the tray and the load on it. This, therefore, means longer haulage duration. With flatbeds trailers, speed is not constrained because ground clearance is not an issue. Where loads can be fitted on one, therefore, haulage speeds are much better compared to those of a low loader.


In general, flat bed trailers are less expensive to hire as compared to low loaders. Part of the reason has to do with the fact that they are more available compared to low loaders. Another reason for the price disparity is the cost of acquisition. Due to their higher number of axles and the tray-widening capabilities, low loaders cost more to buy and operate.

Looking to move heavy equipment or machinery? Talk to a heavy haulage transport contractor and find out which of the two vehicles is better suited for your needs.