What is a Flatbed?


What is a Flatbed?

A flatbed is a versatile term that can encompass various fields and applications, but its fundamental definition is a surface without significant contours or structures on top of it. Here, we’ll primarily focus on its most common application: transportation.

1. Flatbed in Transportation

In the transportation industry, a flatbed refers to a type of truck or trailer that has a level bed without sides or a roof. This open design makes it particularly suitable for transporting goods that are:

  • Oversized: Items that are too large to fit inside a standard truck or trailer can often be accommodated on a flatbed.
  • Unusually Shaped: Objects that have an irregular shape, such as machinery or industrial equipment, can be easier to load and secure on a flatbed.
  • Require Top or Side Loading: Without sides or a roof, cranes and forklifts can easily load and unload goods from multiple angles.

Also, the driver of the truck should have a dispatcher who will definitely find loads for him.

Types of Flatbed Trailers

There are several types of flatbed trailers available based on their specific applications:

  • Standard Flatbed: This is the most common type and is used for a wide variety of loads.
  • Step Deck (or Drop Deck): These trailers have two deck levels which makes it suitable for taller loads.
  • Stretch Flatbed: An extendable flatbed trailer, useful for carrying long items.
  • Double Drop: This type has a lowered middle section situated between raised front and rear sections, ideal for tall loads.

2. Other Applications of Flatbed

While transportation is the most common association with the term flatbed, it also appears in other contexts:

  • Flatbed Scanner: A device used to scan documents, photos, or other flat objects. The item to be scanned is placed on a flat “bed” or glass surface, and a scanning head moves beneath it.
  • Flatbed Printing: Refers to printers that can print directly onto a flat surface, such as wood, metal, or glass. They are often used for signage, custom furniture, and art reproductions.

3. Benefits of Using a Flatbed

  • Versatility: The open design of a flatbed trailer makes it one of the most flexible options for hauling a variety of cargo types.
  • Ease of Loading & Unloading: Goods can be loaded and unloaded from all angles, reducing the time and labor costs associated with these tasks.
  • Safety: Securing loads can be more straightforward and more effective, ensuring safe transport.


The term “flatbed” finds its relevance in various industries, but its predominant association with transportation underscores its importance in the logistics world. Whether it’s moving heavy machinery across states or scanning a precious family photograph, the flatbed concept serves as a backbone to many operations. Its simplicity, combined with its versatility, makes it an invaluable tool in numerous scenarios.

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