ETW Truck

Transporting Milk – Truck Types and Sizes

Across the Northeast, different types of trucks are used to transport milk. The type and size of truck selected is often determined by the particular needs of each workload, with larger trucks and long-distance haulers often managing larger loads and smaller vehicles handling shorter routes and smaller volumes. Sometimes the picture is more complex, especially when it comes to interstate hauling.

Working Within Weight Restrictions

Each state sets weight limits for transport trucks, limiting how much they can haul in each load. For most states, the gross weight (truck and load) cannot exceed 80,000 pounds. Some states—including Maryland, Pennsylvania and North and South Carolina —allow vehicles to carry more, providing they obtain the proper permits. Michigan has the highest limits, at 115,000 pounds per vehicle.

Knowing these different restrictions is important for transport, since trucks traveling out of state or onto federal interstates must abide by the limits of each jurisdiction in which they travel. In some cases, this means that transporting milk across state lines requires using different trucks than the ones used to service farms within the state.

Tractor Trailers vs. Straight Chassis

The majority of milk transport trucks (approximately 80%) are tractor-trailers with 7,000- to 8,000-gallon tanks. The rest are straight chassis tank trucks, usually able to transport 5,000 to 6,000 gallons (42,500 to 52,900 pounds). In addition, smaller trucks of 4,000 gallons can be used for smaller-volume routes.

Sleeper Cabs on Dairy Trucks?

Truck type matters, since any extra vehicular weight means that less milk weight can be carried. That’s why trucks carrying milk seldom have sleeper cabs, since the additional weight makes them less desirable. In the Northeast, where milk processing plants are more readily available than in, say, Florida, sleeper cabs are almost never used.

Vehicle Type and Milk Costs

The cost of milk collection and transport represents as much as 30% of milk processing costs, which is a significant portion That’s why it’s important that haulers do everything in their power to reduce unnecessary weight and maximize the amount of milk they can carry. Farmers, processing plants, and consumers benefit from the cost savings of transportation efficiencies.

Deciding which vehicle to use for which load depends on the volume of milk being transported, the location of the collection and processing facilities, and the distance it needs to go.