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Pnumatic Trailers- 3 Pod or 4?

Aug 24, 2023 at 04:31 PM CST
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Thinking of buying a pnumatic trailer to help diversify my small business. Which would you recommend, 3 pod or 4 pod pneumatic trailer? What are the differences in product each can haul? Which are customers and brokers looking for most? Thanks in advance for any input.
Replied on Fri, Aug 25, 2023 at 07:08 AM CST

It's not so much the number of pods as it is the cubic capacity. Depends on what you're hauling.

Replied on Fri, Aug 25, 2023 at 10:04 AM CST

The amount of hoppers (pods) is not very relevant. It comes down to cubic ft space inside the trailer. While larger trailers generally have more hoppers, 1600cf (larger size) trailers are now commonly just 3 hoppers. Determining how much space you need is fully dependent on the type of products you plan to haul. Heavy products use smaller trailers. For example, cement and sand use 1000cf trailers. Limestone generally uses 1600cf trailers because it is lighter.

You could buy a larger cube trailer and have diversity, however you are giving up payload if you will only haul cement and heavier products becasue the larger cube trailers weigh more. Additionally, many old cement mills have low clearance loading lanes that large trailers won't fit into.

In addition to size, there are many other variables such as food grade spec, vacuum capabilities for loading out of rail cars, piping for transloading operations, etc.. Pneumatics can be very diverse and different operations can have very specific requirements. Generally, the lower barrier to entry pneumatic industries are cement, lime and sand. Lime usually requires larger trailers, but cement and sand use the most common and affordable size/spec trailer of 1000cf with no food grade, vacuum or transloading capabilities. It is probably your best bet unless you expect to get into limestone. Vacuum and food grade operations are very detailed and are definitely not suited to casual operations aimed at just being an additional option in a non pneumatic specific business. You will also need to install blowers on your trucks in order to unload the trailers.

As for sourcing work, I do not recommend getting into pneumatics if load boards and brokers are your source of work. There just isn't enough of it out there, especially work in any 1 given area or that is able to use the same trailer spec. For example, you may see a handful of loads which include cement, soda ash and plastics. With 1 trailer, you will only have the equipment to haul 1 of those categories as the trailer specs and/or contamination requirements for each of those are not compatible. If serious about pneumatics, figure out the most accesible industry in your area and try to establish direct relationships with shippers or receivers that can supply steady work. Cement or limestone mills are often freindly to small carriers, but the best bet is to deal with ready mix or pre cast concrete companies. They are the receivers of the product you will be hauling, so you will pick up on their behalf from the shippers and settle direct with them instead of the shippers. This industry is almost all direct relationships with very little brokers involved.