We know- logistics can be confusing. As an SMB just starting out with importing and exporting, and distributing goods, there’s too much varied information out there, especially when it comes to truck types. Knowing how to speak the same language as your shipping partner will greatly reduce the stress behind every purchase and shipment so you can succeed and thrive in your business. That’s why we recommend learning everything you need to know about exporting/importing, which you can do by downloading our 2022 export guide here. Meanwhile, in this SIMPLIFIED, we will split and explain truck types according to three scenarios:

If you’re bringing containers coming from overseas and need to move them via ground freight

If this is the case, your journey starts here! Containers are strong rectangular units, usually made of aluminum, that are used for shipping, handling and storing. Most common sizes include 20 feet / 40 feet / 53 feet in length x 8.5 feet high x 8 feet wide. Taller shipping containers are known as high-cube and are 9.5 feet high. Measurements are important when calculating the volume of your shipment and deciding if you need a full container load (FCL) or a container consolidation (LCL). 

Containers are usually transported via ground, rail, and sea, and they need a chassis (undercarriage designed for transporting containers over the road) and power unit for transportation. That means that once it has arrived at the port, the container will have to be assembled to a chassis and power unit in order to move on the ground.


If you’re only moving goods via ground freight

Under this scenario, you will probably be moving boxes in and out of trucks, or materials off and on, from one destination to another, generally from the suppliers’ address to the warehouse or your facilities, and from your facilities to your customers if you’re a B2B. Here are the cargo truck types you need to be aware of:


Open trailers
  • Flatbed: Open deck trailer without doors or enclosure. Typically used to transport heavy loads that won’t be damaged or affected by rough roads or bad weather conditions. 
  • Step deck / Drop deck: Similar to a flatbed with a raised step and lowered deck.
  • Lowboy / Double drop: For items over 10’ tall or oversized freight.  
  • RGN / Removable Gooseneck: Used for heavy equipment, a specialized flatbed that has an arched coupling arm that can be removed to create a loading ramp.

Partial / Full enclosure trailers
  • Dry van / semi-trailer: Standard 53’ trailer used for general cargo. They are fully enclosed to keep cargo dry and protect it from external elements. It is commonly used for transporting large quantities of goods and oversized cargo. Due to how versatile they are, they are used for international freight-forwarding, be it short or long distances. Different types of products can be moved via dry vans including non-perishable beverages and goods, textile or construction materials, cars, large machines, and much more. Dry vans are one of the most preferred and affordable means of transportation. Nuvocargo specializes in this type of transportation, and can offer the equipment and capacity you need to keep your business running and expanding. If you would like to ship with Nuvo, click here.  
  • Reefer / refrigerated van: Standard refrigerated trailer.
  • Conestoga: Flatbed with sliding tarp system.
  • Curtainside: Trailer with stationary front wall, roof and doors with tarp sides.
  • Pup: 28’ semi trailer.
  • Pup sets / doubles: Double pup joined with a converted gear.

To know the difference between a Full Truck Load (FTL) or an LTL, click here.


If you’re distributing goods (last mile delivery)

From your facilities to consumer (B2C), you may need smaller transportation to distribute the goods and reach that last mile delivery. For that you may need trucks and vans:

  • Cargo van / sprinter van: This is a commercial van with enough space for 2 passengers and space to haul.
  • Box truck / straight truck: This is a single cab or cab over truck with an enclosed cargo area.   


We hope this clarifies what you need to know to move cargo! If you would like to know what type of equipment Nuvocargo handles, click here.

Happy shipping!