Following on from tippers we take a rather large step up, while staying mostly but not entirely within the construction industry, the low loader, usually the only way of transporting the giants of construction and engineering, travelling at a steady pace along motorways and crawling along pre arranged specified routes. With the vehicle comes a cast of many.
These will range from wide load escorts (special vehicles driven in front and at the rear of wide or long loads to alert other road users creating both early warning and safe passing indication for other drivers) to some loads requiring a second man in the cab.
Assuming you have gained the relevant LGV licence, that being category C+E or class 1 in old money, and you are confident in your skills and abilities, then an interesting day’s work is just a series of ratchet chains away.
There are some significant differences between low loader trailers and any other. Everything from the design of the trailer, including wheel base and axel configuration, but the main point being the importance of keeping the ride height and the center of gravity as low as possible so that you can control the stability of loads with height issues, as well as loading and unloading with some using ramps or hydraulic beaver tail to others that will drop the front at the swan neck.
Whichever the trailer loading method, it must be done with patience and caution as you are loading large machinery, you can quickly lose sight of the trailer from the cab of the machine, typical of rubber tire machines such as loading shovels and dump trucks.
Therefore, the use of a banks man to assist in loading will in most cases prove a necessity. Once loaded, the machine will need chaining down, assuming there is nothing to drive the machine up against such as fitted chocks or the swan neck (these help but in no way take the place of any of the chains that are needed).
Everything that you would have learned about securing a load is more important now than ever as one single item can, and probably will, weigh more than most other combined loads. It is critical that the load is pulled both forward and backward to counteract the forces of momentum; stopping the load from moving backward when you move away and forward under braking. There will, on most machines, be chain down points.
Horizontal chains both front and rear are needed, pulling the load down to assist when cornering, acting against centrifugal force and stopping the load from sliding off.
Being aware of loads that have pneumatic tyres have the added problem of bounce and roll so it would be wise to eliminate this, as the smallest amount of movement at the start will get worse after a few miles. Therefore, checking occasionally after setting off giving the load a short time to settle is advisable.
Other considerations may be if you are loading construction machinery, soil, stones and or general site spoil. When dropped onto the bed of the trailer, it must be swept or cleared off, as if any of this was to fall from the vehicle when you are on the highway it will end in prosecution.
If you are moving machinery with digging arms (that is to say digging machines or JCB type machines) ensure that the digging arm cannot rotate in transit and any buckets and attachments are secured, not forgetting the doors.
So, as first stated, it is arguably mostly heavy plant that’s moved by low loaders. You will see everything from train carriages to multi million pound yachts. The most natural progression from here will take you to abnormal loads or convoy exceptional, requiring movement orders and routing as width, height, weight and length will have to be considered.
The planning, concentration and skill needed for moving some of the loads that you see crawling along our motorways make abnormal load movement some of the most demanding and rewarding in the industry.
For more information on how to acquire HGV entitlement please contact your local training provider.