With all the interest in modular construction these days, one area of the modular process that is often overlooked are the carriers that transport all those modules.
When modules are loaded onto the carrier at the factory, everyone from the builder to the homeowner expects the carrier to arrive at the jobsite just like it left through the factory gates. That’s not the case with the vast majority of carriers.
Flat tires and broken axles are an everyday occurrence for factories and the trucking companies that haul them. Once at the jobsite site many loaded carriers are pushed and twisted by bulldozers into place and around sharp curves at the home buyers site which can be devastating to the carrier frame.
That is why I spoke with Heath Sartini, CEO of Viking Carriers about what can and should be done about improving this most overlooked part of the modular production process.
Heath, thank you for the opportunity to talk with you about something that most people take for granted when they ship those expensive and very heavy modules from the factory to the customer’s job site.
Let’s get started.
Modcoach (Gary Fleisher): With modular factories taking orders into the Fall of 2021, there has to be a need for more carriers. Are you ramping up to meet that need?
Heath Sartini: Yes, with factories planning to be busy in 2021 we have definitely ramped up our production and have our supply chain as full as possible. It’s tough to pre-build very many carriers, because almost every factory has different needs. From size, width, lifting capacity, axles etc. I have 30 of my own carriers available for lease or sale, that could help with immediate needs if necessary.
Modcoach: A while back I did an article about the safety concerns of the modular industry's aging carrier fleets. If a factory were to invest in new carriers, what questions should they ask of today's carrier fabricators?
Heath: Safety is a huge concern with a lot of the previous transportation systems in the industry. The number one thing that should be addressed when ordering a new carrier is axle weight capacity and I-beam weight. 22,500lb should be the minimum axle weight and 26# should be the minimum weight for an I-beam.
Other questions might include whether carriers have a VIN# and are DOT certified. Viking Carriers have both a VIN# and are DOT certified. Most other chassis being built now do not meet or have any required DOT certifications.
Modcoach: Tires and axles seem to be the most frequently repaired parts of the modular carrier. Is there a better tire and axle system now available?
Heath: Yes, I have developed a much better system with the Viking Carrier. It is a better axle combination of either 22,500lb stud piloted axles for larger units or 10,000lb hub piloted axles for smaller units. Both are available with air brakes. 215/75/17.5 18ply steel belted radials complete the package to make a much safer, quicker and more durable transport. Our carriers are able to do the job with a 2-3 axle combination compared with the 9-10 axle transport system currently used by many factories.
Modcoach: Modular factories seem to be building heavier modules these days with some going upwards of 70,000 pounds. Do those weights require special carriers and must they be inspected by any state agencies?
Heath: Yes, any box weighing 40,000lb or more should be on a DOT certified chassis that has a yearly state safety inspection. Most factories are using HUD chassis with 6000lb to 7000lb mobile home axles which are specified as a one-time use axle.
These axles need to be recycled after every use by law and will NOT pass any DOT safety inspection. The tires being used are bias ply and aren’t allowed to go over 55 mph. Most of these tires are stamped on the side wall “not for highway use”.
Modcoach: If a factory placed an order today for a fleet of carriers to meet their increased demand, how long would it take to design, fabricate and deliver them?
Heath: The Viking Carrier is approximately 3 months to deliver from time of deposit. This depends on how many are ordered. More than 10 will take a little longer. Unless, we have the carrier they want in inventory.
Modcoach: What sizes of carriers and chassis’ do you build?
Heath: We can build any size of carrier with or without a chassis to meet the needs of any modular factory. We customize the width and length of the carrier and can add outriggers, lift systems, and a PSI tire inflation system. Our chassis can be built to any size and can also include up to a 12' stretch. Our carriers also come with VIN#’s, and a DOT safety Inspection.
Heath, I want to thank you so much for all the information you gave our industry about one of the most overlooked things in modular housing...the carrier.
Gary Fleisher, the Modcoach, publishes Modcoach News and Modular Home Coach blogs for the modular industry professional.
email me at email@example.com