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June 6, 2024
Dry vans: The most important box in shipping
Dry van trailers may look like a box on wheels, but they are one of the most critical links in the supply chain. Most goods moved via truck in the U.S. travel in dry vans, making them the most popular freight shipping equipment – and for good reason.

“Dry vans are incredibly versatile and can haul almost anything,” says Antonio Garcia Sansigre, Head of SMB Sales at Amazon Freight and who works closely with shippers. “They are standard in trucking, which means they are one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways to ship freight over long distances.”

All about dry vans
The 53-foot dry van is the industry standard for trucking. As the name suggests, it typically measures 53 feet long, just over eight feet high, and a little more than eight feet wide. Unlike flatbed trailers, which utilize an open deck with cargo exposed to the elements, dry vans are completely enclosed. They have a roof, sides, and a rear door, which protect goods during transit. They can also be locked to help reduce the risk of cargo theft.

Dry vans can haul everything from a pallet of building blocks to furniture or boxes of consumer electronics. They are used in less-than-truckload as well as truckload shipments, and a 53-foot trailer typically holds about 26 pallets, depending on the pallet size and the product’s weight.

Also called a heavy-duty truck, dry vans have to be pulled by a Class 8 tractor and attached via a fifth wheel—a large metal disk on the rear of the truck chassis—and a pin located on the underside of the front of the trailer. Given their shape, dry vans are sometimes called “box trailers,” but it is important not to confuse them with box trucks, which are smaller and have an enclosed cargo area integrated with the cab.

Dry vans are not climate-controlled, so they are most suitable for freight shippers that don't have temperature-sensitive products. Companies shipping perishable products should opt for refrigerated trailers, or reefers, rather than a dry van.

Make dry vans do more for you
Dry vans can help freight shippers move goods more efficiently. A range of techniques help maximize cargo capacity by making the most of the space inside the trailer. In addition to using every inch available, shippers can stack freight inside dry vans to ship even more products, as long as everything is loaded safely and securely.

Dry vans also lend themselves well to trailer pools. With trailer pools, shippers can utilize drop-and-hook shipping to increase efficiency. Drivers arrive at their destination, unhook a trailer, attach their truck to a pre-loaded trailer, and get back on their way. Drop-and-hook shipping can eliminate the waits associated with loading and unloading, thereby reducing downtime, making yards more efficient, and keeping freight moving.

Trailer pools also ensure shippers have the necessary equipment when needed. That access is especially valuable when capacity is tight or during a surge in volumes.

Keep them running
Like any piece of equipment, breakdowns or failures happen, so maintenance is essential. Regular, scheduled maintenance for dry van trailers typically involves recurring inspections of tires, brakes, lights, and the integrity of the trailer's walls and roof.

In particular, it is recommended that shippers check any dropped trailer before packing it to ensure it is ready to use. Issues such as a flat tire or a trailer that still has dunnage inside can create delays. Drivers are also legally required to complete a pre-trip inspection before they hit the road to make sure critical components are functioning.

Tap into Amazon’s dry vans
Amazon Freight has more than 50,000 dry van trailers in its network and works with shippers to tap into the Amazon network and get the capacity they need to keep their loads moving. To work with Amazon Freight and put Amazon’s trailer network to work for you, create a shipper account.
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