Shipment loads are not all equal when it comes to weight and transportation concerns when being loaded and carried to the proper destination. Containers must be in a good state of repair before any loading begins, and other issues such as potential problems when unloading should be evaluated as well. This is as true with hopper containers as it is with tankers or flatbeds. Of course, tankers are designed for hauling liquids and flatbeds are designed for hauling equipment and materials that are better suited and secured on an open bed. Tankers can be baffled for more balance and protection against surges while flatbeds carry shipments that can be secured through additional anchoring. This way the cargo can also be monitored in real-time while in transit. However, hoppers present some challenges even when they are the best trailer to use for the job, and safety is just as important with a closed container as it is with open-air or liquid hauling trailer because they include massive weights and put added pressure on the tractor. Here are a few things to consider when loading and unloading hopper containers.
Choosing the Right Container
Hopper trailers come in a variety of designs that can be evaluated for the particular type of material. All trailers are typically 40-42 feet long and eight feet wide. Dry materials that are loaded into a hopper bottom trailer are almost always extremely heavy when they are loaded to capacity, and even though they may be loosely situated at first, the material can become compacted through the hauling process. This is especially true with long-distance transports. The suspension system on the hopper is vital to a safe trip, and air ride suspension systems are easily the most preferred option. In addition, all doors along the bottom must be in good working order and safely seal the material from leaking during the trip. Lost material could equal lost money, and chargebacks for liability could be a result of a poorly equipped hatch.
Inspecting the Trailer Before Loading
Along with ensuring that all hatches are secure and able to hold the extreme load, the inside should also be relatively clear of leftover material from any previous hauling job. When corn, grain, or other agricultural products are being hauled this can be very important because contamination is a concern. It is actually best to select a trailer that has been used specifically for one product when they can be located through a dependable trailer rental or sales outlet. This is actually a good preparation safety measure that should be repeated when the cargo is being loaded. In addition, always make sure the cargo is not overloaded because weights can be very close to rated capacity and legal allowance when dry materials are loaded into a hopper trailer.
It is always a good practice to inspect transportation loads during the hauling process regardless of the type of material. The primary concern with hauling a hopper trailer is a dislodged hatch that could occur when roadways are particularly rough. This can happen on open highways as well as two-lane roads when they have been in a state of disrepair for a significant amount of time. Rough rides could mean more checking to ensure hatches are still intact and no material is being spilled while running.
The most dangerous time of the trip can often be the unloading process when a driver must be involved. Hopefully, the business at the destination point will have OSHA approved equipment that makes unloading a safe and secure process. This also allows the driver to stay well away from the discharging area in an explicitly marked safe zone. It is very important to stay clear of the hopper during any unloading procedure and possibly help inspect the unloading process when the container must be hauled away empty after the fact.
These are just a few concerns when handling dry material in a hopper trailer with the extensive weight capacity. Heavy loads present problems that other shipments do not, and being constantly aware of the load condition while in transit is vital to arriving safely and unaffected at the point of destination. Always use a high-quality hopper trailer.