Coming Through with Hard-to-Find Trailers When Others Couldn’t

How a Large Network & Flexibility Led to a Successful Project Execution

Open Flatbed Conestoga TrailerA custom automation components manufacturer secured a project from a global food manufacturer to support its production process at one of their facilities. This process needed to happen seamlessly in order to keep the plant up and running to meet production expectations. The global food corporation needed the new robotic automation systems delivered to their remote Oklahoma plant in a very particular order — over multiple days, including a Saturday delivery.

The machines were irregular in shape, sensitive to moisture and very fragile, so it was vital that they be protected from the elements. But typical enclosed van trailers would not work because they needed to be loaded and unloaded from the side of the trailer. That's why five Conestoga trailers — including three Conestoga flatbed trailers, one step deck Conestoga and one double drop Conestoga — were required to successfully transport the machines. Conestoga trailers allow for easy loading and offloading — especially for irregularly shaped freight — much like an open-deck trailer, while allowing for it to be enclosed, like a van trailer, during transit.

The Challenge

A major challenge for the shipper — the robotic automation system manufacturer — was securing five Conestoga trailers in those varieties at the same time in the same place. It was very important to have a variety of trailers because of the various heights of the products. These trailers are more unique and less available than traditional enclosed van and open-deck trailers. In fact, although ATS Logistics uses a select subset of preferred carriers to consistently ensure the best service, they monitor more than 120,000 carriers across North America. Of those 120,000 carriers, roughly two percent own and operate any configuration of a Conestoga trailer.


With the delivery destination being in a rural part of Oklahoma, it required deadheading — or driving without a load — for a decent amount of time before a reload would be available. Securing Drivers willing to travel empty miles can increase the cost of the shipment — and increase the risk of carriers falling through last-minute.

Finally, it was important to the consignee to have the trailers arrive at the plant in a particular order for installation purposes and be on time to meet install crews. Because the Saturday deliveries were outside typical working hours, the consignee had someone there for a short period of time for offloading — a cost they didn’t want to pay any more than they needed to for.

A Seamless Solution

Flatbed Conestoga being loadedChris R., director of manufacturing for the robotic automation system manufacturer, had worked with ATS Logistics in the past — following years of managing transportation on his own. When managing the transportation, he often ran into issues with carriers falling through at the 11th hour, showing up with the wrong equipment or simply not having the knowledge to safely transport their equipment. ATS Logistics was able to take that weight off his shoulders by being a reliable transportation partner with one point of contact who took the time to understand their freight needs and selected only the carriers they knew would do the job correctly. This allowed Chris to focus on other priorities in his role and the numerous other tasks that come with his position, including successfully executing this project.

“I don’t like when people just send anyone with a truck,” Chris said. “It doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing. I’ve had carriers cost us a lot of time just to load a truck because they didn’t know how to properly strap the load.”

Knowing the vast network and close relationships ATS Logistics had with carriers, Chris contacted his single point of contact with the load requests knowing it would be handled. As he expected, ATS Logistics had the requested two single drop deck Conestogas ready for a Thursday pickup in St. Louis and Friday delivery in Oklahoma and three flatbed Conestogas ready for a Friday pickup and Saturday delivery. This is made possible through decades of building quality relationships with trusted partner carriers. Those carriers want to maintain their relationship with ATS Logistics knowing they'll continue to get quality freight with quality customers and get paid quickly. In the case of this project, ATS Logistics utilized multiple internal resources to partner with three different carriers to find these rare trailer types.

Carrier Relationships Lead to Quick Recovery (graphic)

Flexibility & Quick Response Time Lead to Zero Delays

Step Deck Conestoga Trailer being loadedWhen the first single drop conestoga arrived in St. Louis, Chris learned the trailer wouldn't work as he originally planned. After realizing the issue, Chris got in touch with his point of contact at ATS Logistics and informed them he’d need a different trailer the next day. As is often the case in time-sensitive deliveries, because of the urgency of the sequential delivery schedule, this was less of a request and more of an expectation. This is also where a well-established relationship with a trusted freight broker can pay off.

ATS Logistics quickly responded by utilizing its proprietary carrier management system, which keeps detailed records of carriers' strengths and capabilities. It also allows ATS Logistics to quickly pinpoint carriers' locations and asset types, in this case finding a rare double drop Conestoga with the proper clearance in record time. Within hours, the equipment was booked and scheduled to arrive at the expected time the following day — leading to on-time delivery for the consignee.

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About ATS Logistics

ATS Logistics, Inc. is a full-service transportation brokerage headquartered in St. Cloud, MN. Managing more than 250,000 loads per year, they are the 24th largest brokerage firm in North America. Having acquired brokerage authority over 30 years ago, stability and experience in the industry paired with a streamlined carrier management program have earned ATS Logistics a position as a preferred partner amongst the nation’s top echelon of carriers. These relationships provide shippers unique access to a private network of premier carriers.

ATS Logistics Services, Inc., is a full-service transportation brokerage and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Anderson Trucking Service, Inc.