Different Types of Commercial Tanker Trailers: Food, Petroleum, Pneumatic, & Chemical

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Whether it be a pneumatic tanker or a food tanker, each tanker trailer requires a highly skilled driver who is also aware of strict safety regulations. In an already heavily regulated industry, tanker trailers are among the most regulated trailers because of the type of cargo they carry. Not only is it important that the vehicles remain stable during a haul, but there is also an equal concern for worker safety during both trailer operation as well as when handling cargo.

In 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) revised the definition of a tank vehicle “to include any commercial motor vehicle that is designed to transport any liquid or gaseous materials within a tank or tanks having an individual rated capacity of more than 119 gallons and an aggregate rated capacity of 1,000 gallons or more that is either permanently or temporarily attached to the vehicle or the chassis.”This change expanded which trucks qualify as tankers and as a result, more drivers must pass a knowledge test to obtain an endorsement on their commercial driver’s license (CDL).

While driving any type of tanker may require more planning and effort, it can also result in greater financial rewards. Here you’ll learn about some of the most common types of tanker trailers, find out what they’re used for, and more.

Food Tanker

Food tankers are relied upon by the food and beverage industry to haul large quantities of consumable products from production source to processing plant. These types of tankers are cylindrical and built out of stainless steel. Typically, the tank is split into multiple compartments so various liquids can be transported in the same load.

Since food tankers are designed and used to transport liquid foods that will later be consumed, they are usually insulated and come with temperature control options. The most common load these tankers haul is milk, however, food tankers also carry:

  • Liquid dairy products
  • Fruit juices
  • Alcohol
  • Vegetable oils
  • Vinegar
  • Corn syrup
  • Sugar alcohols

There are strict sanitation regulations food tankers must adhere to when transporting liquid food items along with other requirements.

Food Tanker Regulations

  • Requires a tank vehicle endorsement on your commercial driver license (CDL)
  • DOT 406
  • U.S. Food & Drug Administration Sanitation and Transportation Regulations
  • Clean in accordance with the Transportation Equipment Cleaning (TEC) Effluent Guidelines and Standards (40 CFR Part 442)
  • Maximum capacity dependent upon location

Fuel Tanker

Tasked with the dangerous and highly necessary job of transporting various fuels, fuel tankers usually have multiple compartments within the cylindrical tank. Not only do the separate compartments allow for more than one type of fuel to be carried in a tank, but they also improve the safety of the vehicle by preventing liquid surge from occurring.

Within each compartment, there are baffles that act as dividers with holes to allow liquid to flow through. These baffles help minimize movement of the cargo and control any liquid surge. The oil and gas industry relies heavily on fuel tankers, or diesel tankers, designed to transport petroleum-derived products such as:

  • Gasoline
  • Diesel
  • Ethanol
  • Jet fuel

All these products are hazardous which is why these tankers require stringent regulatory compliance.

Fuel Tanker Regulations

  • Requires a tank vehicle endorsement on your commercial driver license (CDL)
  • DOT 406
  • Must adhere to specific hazardous materials regulations
  • Clean in accordance with the Transportation Equipment Cleaning (TEC) Effluent Guidelines and Standards (40 CFR Part 442)
  • Maximum capacity dependent upon location

Dry Bulk Tanker

Dry bulk tankers, also known as pneumatic tankers, are vacuum-sealed metal cylinders with cone-shaped hoppers on the bottom and openings on the top and rear of the tank. Most of these tankers are manufactured as a single compartment made of aluminum or steel and have the capacity to hold between 560 – 3120 cubic feet of product. Pneumatic tankers are used in a variety of industries including construction, food, and industrial manufacturing and haul cargo like:

  • Building materials like sand and cement
  • Dry food products such as sugar, flour, and starch
  • Chemical powders
  • Plastic pellets

The ability to unload the cargo using compressed air makes this type of tanker useful for transporting fine powders. The ease of loading and unloading a dry bulk tanker is one of its main advantages and contributes to cost savings. Additionally, the sealed nature of the tanker allows products to avoid contamination and moisture.

Dry Bulk Tanker Regulations

  • Requires a tank vehicle endorsement on your commercial driver license (CDL)
  • DOT 406
  • Clean in accordance with the Transportation Equipment Cleaning (TEC) Effluent Guidelines and Standards (40 CFR Part 442)
  • Maximum capacity dependent upon location

Chemical Tanker

Another cylindrical, horizontally lying tank used to transport goods is a chemical tanker that hauls chemicals, flammable products, and corrosive materials. These tankers range in length from 42 feet up to 45 feet and are usually made of stainless steel. In the case of corrosive products, however, tanks are composed of fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP).

Chemical tanker capacities are measured by their available volume which generally ranges from 5,500 to 11,600 gallons. This type of tanker is usually used by the industrial industry for hauling manufacturing materials. Common cargo hauled by chemical tankers includes:

  • Ammonia
  • Chlorine
  • Hydrogen fluoride

Because most industrial chemicals pose dangerous health or physical hazards, these types of tankers must follow additional regulations.

Chemical Tanker Regulations

Other Types of Tankers

In addition to these four types of tanker trailers, there are others including agriculture tankers, water tankers, compressed natural gas tankers, and asphalt tankers. Depending on the job at hand, there is a type of tanker well suited for it.   

Find All Types of Tanker Trailers at Hale Trailer

Finding the right tanker trailer for your project is extremely important. At Hale Trailer Brake & Wheel, Inc., you’ll encounter an extensive inventory of different types of tanker trailers so you can find the trailer that satisfies your requirements.

Interested in financing your next trailer? Hale Trailer’s experienced finance department provides access to major transportation lenders and will help you conserve cash flow while obtaining the trailer equipment you need to complete your fleet. Our friendly team is ready to answer all your questions and help you find the perfect semi-trailer to fulfill your needs. Call for inquiries today at 800-232-6535!

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