Choosing the right type of truck for your business is just as important as getting the right deal on your truck. There are lots to choose from and in some cases it will be obvious which is right for you — but not always. You have the 4×2 and 6×2 tractor units for container freight, of course, with the latter being the preferred choice in the UK with its lifting third axle. A chassis truck will allow the operator to adapt the vehicle to whatever body type they see fit, but clearly most of these will already have been kitted our before they find their way on to the second-hand market, so you won’t find many used examples.
Then there are the specialist trucks. Cherry pickers, car transporter, tankers and the like all have their roles to play and usually have specific jobs to fill. Trucks, on the other hand, such as flat beds, curtainsiders and Lutons are more generalist and here the operator has some choices to make. The Luton or box truck is best for security, so you have to bear that in mind when making your selection. Try to think about the sorts of loads you will be hauling and check out the insurance implications. Some clients might even specify that they want their loads secured in a hard-sided truck, especially if they are likely to be in transit overnight.
The downside of a rigid-bodied truck is really all about access. Most can only be accessed from the rear and that means you are going to have to think carefully about how the truck is loaded. If you are doing multi-drop work, for example, the load order is going to define your drop-off route. Any change here could cause problems as you end up having to juggle the loads at your destination and some customers will not want to move other loads around in order to get to their load. Again, there could be insurance implications, with some receiving clients refusing to shift other pallets to get to their loads, leaving you to do all the work yourself if you have a rear forklift.
A flat-bed truck, of course, gets round these problems as palletised loads (and others) can be accessed from the sides or the rear. This gives you much greater flexibility when planning your route and allows you to respond to changes in schedule without worrying too much about the load order. There are downsides to flatbeds, though. Your loads are exposed to the elements for a start and this will not be suitable for all load types. Covering up loads will get you involved in tarp work, which can be time-consuming and difficult, especially with multiple loads. You could also be restricted by security concerns. Clients are unlikely to want any valuable loads exposed on these trucks and insurance probably won’t cover many types of loads on these trucks.
The curtainsider is a good compromise in these situations. Palletised loads can be accessed from the rear or either side, making them ideal for tight loading and unloading environments. You also have the same route flexibility as you do with a flat bed. The curtainsider keeps the loads safe from the weather, making them more flexible here too. Security is better than with a flat-bed, with the loads out of sight and relatively secure, although not as much as in a rigid box truck. Finally, the curtainsides provide the opportunity for displaying advertising messages, but bear in mind replacement costs when buying used.