At a glance, semi trailers may appear very similar. Dry van trailers, for example, generally look like big, rectangular boxes—at least to people who aren’t familiar with the transporting of goods and materials. On the other hand, businesses that rely on semi trailers to get their products from their point of origin to their destination safely and cost-effectively know there is much more to these units than initially meets the eye.
They understand that finding the right trailer for a particular application is critical. That choice can make a significant difference in everything from the safety and security of shipments to hauling capacity and profitability. Consequently, it is well worth the time to learn a little bit about semi trailers and also to talk with over the road, cartage, and storage trailer leasing and sales experts about your needs.
The Evolution of Semi Trailers
For as long as there has been commerce at any scale, there have been trailers for hauling goods. The earliest evidence of the use of trailers goes back many thousands of years. And surely from the day the first merchant loaded their product onto a rolling platform, the design of trailers has evolved in many ways—from their strength and stability to their aerodynamics.
The first trailers were, as you would expect, made from wood. Their designers and builders amassed a great deal of knowledge about how wood could be shaped and assembled to meet the needs of different types of loads. As time went by, innovations like shock absorbers and wheels containing ball bearings improved the usability of trailers.
When the “semi-truck” was invented in Cleveland, Ohio, by Alexander Winton in 1898, wooden trailers were still in use. But, around the time of WWI, wood began giving way to steel. This was a huge advance, but by no means the end of the line in semi trailer evolution.
Semi Trailers Today
For many decades, what are called sheet-and-post trailers were predominant in the transportation industry. As the name implies, these trailers are constructed with posts that support different types of siding material like steel or aluminum. While they are no longer as common as they used to be, there are still semi trailers on the road that use this type of construction.
More recently, however, manufacturers have begun using new materials looking for ways to build trailers that are as strong as steel and even lighter than aluminum. A leader in this area is composite materials.
Sheet-and-Post Semi Trailers
There is a reason that there are still sheet-and-post semi trailers in use today. Actually, there are many reasons, including that they are:
- Strong. Materials like steel and aluminum that are used in sheet-and-post trailers stand up well to abuse and provide exceptional protection for the trailer’s contents.
- Versatile. Sheet-and-post trailers can be used in countless ways and in virtually any environment.
- Reliable. Drivers, warehouse personnel, and others know what to expect from sheet-and-post trailers.
- Readily available. Some trailer manufacturers continue to produce sheet-and-post trailers.
In short, these trailers provide consistent performance that companies can trust.
Composite Semi Trailers
Now the most common trailers on the road, composite semi trailers are formed from a combination of materials. They use a plastic core between two aluminum sheets, and are sometimes called “plate” trailers. These semi trailers have many positive characteristics, including:
- Durability and minimal maintenance. Composites have a long lifespan and require very little upkeep.
- Strength. Through the use of different resins and reinforcing elements, composites can meet almost any strength requirement.
- Corrosion resistance. Composites maintain their physical properties even when exposed to most chemicals and adverse weather and environmental conditions.
- Food grade. Composite trailers can be used for any type of food transportation thanks to the hygienic environment inside the trailer.
Why Does Trailer Construction Type Matter?
When looking into a semi trailer rental or purchase, some companies will say, “We’ll take whatever you have on hand.” But, the type of trailer you select can have a significant impact on your operations, including your profitability. In some cases, a sheet-and-post semi trailer may have the performance characteristics you require. In another, a composite trailer might better meet your needs.
Get the Right Semi Trailer for Your Requirements
At Boxwheel, we have extensive experience in helping companies find the ideal semi trailer for their specific requirements. We also have relationships with all of the major over the road, cartage, and storage trailer manufacturers—leading companies like Great Dane, Wabash, Hyundai, and Utility. This ensures that whether you are interested in trailer rental or buying used over the road semi trailers, we can help you get what you need and get on the road quickly with the right equipment.
Have questions about semi trailer construction or performance characteristics? We’re here to answer them! Whether you have an immediate semi trailer rental need or a future need, it is helpful to have some background in trailer types so you can make a well-informed decision. Contact us at your convenience.