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The overall size of the vehicle is largely tied to the load in question. There are many factors that might limit the weight of a vehicle, including local infrastructure, road conditions, local laws and even the overall quality of the vehicle itself. Generally speaking

Often times vehicles are referred to a weight rating, such as a twenty-tonne or forty-tonne vehicle. These tonnages referred to by the vehicle classification are specifying the maximum gross weight of the vehicle, which includes the weight of the cargo and the weight of the vehicle itself. These specific designations are important for route and transport planning, as many roads, surfaces and bridges are rated for different tonnages for a variety of structural or environmental reasons. This means that the actual weight of the cargo payload per vehicle will be moderately less, depending on the vehicle.

The actual maximum allowable payload weight per vehicle will be specified by the manufacturer, and can also be regulated by national or local regulations.  The overall body and engine type of the vehicle will also impact the specific maximum payload of the vehicle. For the purposes of planning, the size to payload needs can be defined as in the table below:

Type

Axles

Max Gross Weight (Tonnes)

*Estimated Payload (Tonnes)

Typical Total Body Length (Meters)

Body

Single Unit Truck

2 axles / 4 wheels

3.5

1

Various

  

Single Unit Truck

2 axles / 6 wheels

7.5

3.5

Various

Single Unit Truck

2 axles / 6 wheels

18.8

12

12

Single Unit Truck

3 axles

26

18

12

Single Unit Truck

4 axles

36

25

12

Tractor Trailer Truck

3 axles

26

18

16.5

Tractor Trailer Truck

4 axles

38

24

16.5

Tractor Trailer Truck

5 axles

40

24

16.5

Tractor Trailer Truck

6 axles

41

27

16.5

Close Coupled Trailer

Various

40

26

18.75

*The estimated payload is the weight of goods that can be carried without exceeding the maximum gross vehicle weight. Where law does not specify a maximum gross weight or local circumstances allow, this payload may be increased. For high volume / low weight cargo, the load may reach maximum capacity before weight limits are met.

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Cartons / sacks – when loading cartons or sacks into the bed of a truck, avoid stacking in pyramid or forming piles. Cartons and sacks should be stacked in even rows, as low to the bed of the truck as possible. Stacks should be arranged in interlocking "brick” format to avoid stacks from coming apart, and where possible, stacks of cartons or sacks should be secured with netting, tarp or rope, especially if the truck bed has no sides or bars.

Bulky items – bulky items such as timber, generators, or other large equipment should be firmly secured to bed of a truck using rope or chain of appropriate strength.

Loading Vehicles

Unlike sea or air cargo transportation, humanitarian actors will almost certainly be involved with the direct loading of cargo vehicles at some point. Loading of cargo onto a truck may appear fairly straight forward, however there are several things that shippers may need to consider. Frequently, third-party transport companies and private vehicle hires may understand the loading needs of their own vehicles, but in the event agencies are self-managing loading or the third-party service does not have the capacity to mange loading, organisations may have to - and possibly be legally required to - take responsibility for securely loading vehicles.

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