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International Forwarding Association Blog » Road Transport in Europe » Types of Road Vehicles for Cargo Shipment

Types of Road Vehicles for Cargo Shipment

Regardless of the sector you operate in, delivering your products to clients safely, in good condition, and on time is key to your reputation and bottom line. Yet, with a range of equipment and modes to consider, choosing the best option is not always easy. From power-only, refrigerated, and dry vans to straight trucks and cargo vans, here is a quick guide to help you decide on the type of equipment you may need.


Refrigerated Trailers

This piece of equipment is used for refrigeration transport of perishable goods like pharmaceuticals, dairy, and fresh produce. Refrigerated trailers or reefers are also used to ship temperature-sensitive items such as candles, flowers, and paints, as well as bulk liquids and hazardous materials. While box trailers can maintain one temperature only, there are also multi-temperature reefers with multiple compartments, shipping different types of cargo together. Specialized reefers are a third variety, with specifications like double and single decking, meat hanging, etc. Goods can be shipped chilled or frozen.



Dry Vans

Dry vans are used to ship loose, boxed, and palletized freight, including electronics, furniture, and clothing, which don’t require refrigeration. Cargo is enclosed on all sides to protect it from direct heat, rain, snow, high winds, and other weather hazards. Dry vans are typically fitted with wooden flooring, swing-open doors, and metal coating on all sides. They can be used to ship a wide range of goods, including:

  • Construction materials like nails and hammers
  • Equipment, machinery, and large parts
  • Non-perishable foodstuffs, including cereal, canned goods, and potato chips
  • Plastics and textiles
  • Raw materials


Power Only

With power-only trucking, you have a trailer that is either owned or leased, but you need a driver and a truck to haul your cargo. Power-only trucking can be used for a range of shipping equipment, including containers, refrigerated trailers, dry vans, and open deck and flatbed trailers. Common scenarios in which carriers use a leased trailer plus power only include special shipping projects, weekend surges in demand, just-in-time shipping, peak seasons, and warehouse and facility moves.


Cargo Vans

Cargo vans are fitted with seats for a front passenger and a driver while the cargo area is in the back. They are suitable for small shipments and last-mile delivery services because of the more limited room for cargo. You will see this type of van in cleaners, movers, and roofing and painting businesses, but they are also used to expedite small shipments. In general, cargo vans can be used to assist businesses across industries, whether transporting gear for live events production companies or shipping materials for building and construction contractors.


How to Choose the Right Vehicle

There are several factors to take into account, including destination and cargo size and type. Heavy trucks, for example, are used for long-haul road transport, while vans and minivans are best for short-haul transport. Different vehicles are also used for oversized cargo and goods that are gaseous, liquid, shipped in bulk, and packaged.