Freight transport: what are the differences between trailer and semi-trailer?

Road haulage companies like Transports Goëvia use trucks combined with trailers or semi-trailers on a daily basis. The trailer, on the other hand, can be fixed or tiltable. The semi-trailer is distinguished by the presence of wheels only on the rear section. When not attached to a vehicle, it is kept level by crutches supported on the ground. In all cases, the trailer or semi-trailer is a structure that can be closed or open, dry or refrigerated, depending on the needs of each transport.

What is a trailer?

The trailer has no engine: when transporting goods, it is always coupled to another vehicle. There are different types of trailer: for example, a tank trailer can be used to transport liquids. The basic function of a trailer is to transport goods by means of a motorized vehicle. The term “hitch trailer” is also sometimes used to describe a transport trailer.

This trailer is based on wheels and a chassis. It also has a load surface and sometimes its own brakes (depending on its size and weight). It can have two or more axles in addition to the steering axle. As a general rule, trailers are preferred for short-distance transport. For long-distance deliveries, semi-trailers are the preferred choice.

The semi-trailer and its use in road haulage

The semi-trailer can be fitted with one or more axles, but these are located exclusively at the rear. The front is connected to the vehicle by a metal part known as a “fifth wheel”. A semi-trailer’s load is carried by the tractor at the front and the axles at the rear. The combination of a tractor and a trailer or semi-trailer is called an “articulated vehicle”.

A semi-trailer is specially designed to support and transport heavy loads. That’s why it’s an essential piece of equipment, widely used by road haulage companies like Transports Goëvia. There are several reasons why transport professionals choose semi-trailers.

Goods transported on a semi-trailer are well protected from the hazards of the journey and the weather (winding roads, rain, wind, dust, etc.). What’s more, the merchandise is saddled up and placed out of sight, making it easier to deter malicious acts such as theft. Finally, the large loading capacity of a semi-trailer is also an undeniable strength.


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