Dry van trailers are the most common type of cargo-hauling vehicle on the road. The truck on the highway towing a large storage container is a dry van trailer. This article will share important details about dry van trailers and what the best dry van trailer companies do well.

What is a dry van trailer?

Dry van trailers haul a lot more cargo than a typical passenger van can manage. For example, a large shipment of up to 45,000 pounds can be loaded on a dry truck for transport over the road. 

Dry van companies can reliably deliver the cargo, commonly packed and wrapped on pallets and loaded and unloaded by forklift or pallet jack. They can typically do so at relatively low cost. There are also many dry van trailer companies, so customers have a good deal of flexibility. They might partner consistently with a certain company or use brokers or load boards to meet immediate needs in a certain location. 

Who uses dry van companies?

Dry van trailers are for any non-perishable goods. When a climate-controlled environment is required, dry van companies will suggest an alternate solution. Since dry van freight can be any item that can be put on a pallet and hauled by road, the cargo includes:

Common dry van trailer rates

The rate for dry van trailers will vary by carrier and location. Yet Truckstop reports that the national van rate average was $3.13 per mile in January 2022. Further, “on average, the West and Midwest have the highest rates per mile, while the Northeast has the lowest.”

Dry van trucking rates are determined by:

  • Delivery distance
  • How much freight is available to ship
  • Amount of truck space available
  • Fuel costs
  • Season
  • Weight and density

Added requirements, such as needing lift gates or having to meet a specific drop-off window, will also impact the dry van trailer rate.

Pros and cons of using dry van transportation services

Dry van freight shipping offers several advantages. The wide range of things that can be shipped via dry van makes the decision easier. Then, since dry van shipments don’t require special equipment or training, there are many options. That keeps the pricing down. 

Sending freight in a dry van is also safer than flatbed load transport. After all, the cargo is well protected from elements in the enclosed trailer. Plus, if the route is long enough that the driver needs to stop for fuel, food, or hours of service (HOS) reasons, the dry van can be locked up for added protection.

Still, there are some cons to consider as well. For one, dry vans typically have wood flooring which can wear out from repeated use and heavy freight. This could put your cargo at risk in bad weather.

Additionally, all those large trucks on the road do contribute to highway accidents. There is also an environmental impact from the fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

What are the major challenges facing dry van trailer companies? 

Companies offering dry van transportation services do face some challenges. For one, there is a lot of competition for business. Additionally, there is a shortage of qualified drivers, which means companies compete not only for business but also for the employees to deliver those loads.

Dry van drivers make money from being on the road and delivering on time. Getting stuck with a less than full truck is a problem, though deadheading (driving an empty trailer) is even worse. Delays due to inspection concerns or compliance issues can also be challenging. The customers don’t want to hear about the headaches of a truck breaking down, being in an accident, or being held up at a weigh station.

Top tips for finding the best dry van companies

When you need dry van shipping, there are many companies available. Now that you know the challenges facing dry van trailers, select a business that keeps up with best practices to avoid common issues.

Route optimization is a must. Work with a dry van company that has the agility to make adjustments as needed depending on weather, traffic, accidents, or other concerns. 

Look also at the company’s safety rating. If the company has employees with good driving records and talks about their driver training and compliance efforts, you can feel better about its reliability. A company, for instance, that offers paid commercial drivers license training for their team is investing in quality staff.

You might also look at their employee feedback and customer recommendations online to gauge other people’s experience with that company. Time in business, size of company, and reach of their enterprise can also factor into their credibility.

You can also feel better about your dry van company choice if you weigh their sustainability goals as well. Companies today can use digital technology to benchmark fuel performance and lower their environmental impact.

How Motive supports dry van shipping operations

With so many dry van companies out there, your operations need to stand out. Motive can help. Our fleet management software ensures efficient routing, accurate ETAs, and elevated customer satisfaction. 

With Motive’s field services, you can take advantage of:

  • Real-time status and asset location updates
  • Intuitive access to fleet management data on a mobile or desktop device
  • Budget and schedule management tools for billing accuracy
  • GPS tracking to dispatch faster and communicate effectively with customers
  • Asset data to enable preventative maintenance
  • Electronic logging device integration to further compliance 
  • Coaching to help keep drivers safe

Motive’s innovative AI-powered platform supports productivity, profitability, and prevents accidents. Learn more.