How to Choose the Right Type of Trailer for Your New Distribution Project

If you're thinking of expanding your capability as a distributor, you may be thinking about upgrading your mode of transportation from a standard box van to a semi trailer. You may have already purchased the truck but are now thinking about your trailer configuration, and before you decide what type to buy, you need to take into account a variety of different parameters. What do you need to consider?

Profit or Loss?

The type of trailer that you choose will probably mean the difference between making a profit or a loss in a typically competitive marketplace. You will need to determine your total cost of ownership in a given year when taking into account payload, practicality and maintenance costs, apart from the overall cash involved in buying the equipment.

Questions to Ask Yourself

Broadly speaking, you will first have to match your expected needs with the functionality of the trailer. In other words, what type of load do you expect to haul and what will be the average size of each full load?

If your new venture relies on just-in-time delivery logistics and you have to maximise the size of each trip very carefully, then you will have to do some detailed calculations to determine where your break-even point lies. For example, it may be more economical for you to buy a larger trailer and focus on loading, unloading and delivery metrics than trying to fit in more journeys with a smaller vehicle.

You need to take into account your future projections however and factor for any expected growth. In particular, think carefully in case your needs change in the future, or you may have to try and haul different elements of cargo.


If you are hauling larger individual items, bulk loads or something that can be more easily loaded from the side, then you will need to choose a flatbed. These are much more versatile and will work perfectly, so long as you don't need to protect the cargo from the weather. Always make sure that you buy a trailer that is sufficiently strong and made for the task in hand, especially when hauling the heaviest of cargo.

Box or Fridge

Obviously, if you need full protection from the weather or if any of your payload may be perishable, then you will need to consider an enclosed van or a refrigerated option. Just remember to factor in the additional costs associated with a chiller van, as they also need to carry a heavy refrigeration unit, which will impact fuel consumption.

Running Costs

Don't forget to take into account the costs of running a trailer like this, especially when it comes to required maintenance. Likewise, it may help to equip your trailer with lightweight materials and make sure that it is as aerodynamically efficient as possible.

Making Your Choice

As you choose your new trailer, talk with the supplier carefully and get as much information about trailer performance as you can before you decide.