April 21

What are the Different Types of Dump Trucks?

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What are the different types of dump trucks? The exact number of dump truck types and classifications isn’t completely agreed upon and adding to the confusion are the diverse names applied to the same truck.

For example, some people, especially the truck manufacturers, refer to dump trucks that have an articulation joint separating the cab from the dump as “articulated dump trucks” or ADTs for short. However, contractors often refer to them as “rock trucks” even though rock trucks also refers to any truck used in rock-hauling applications, whether it’s capable of articulation or not. Also, the term “ADT” and “off-highway dump truck” get used interchangeably even though off-highway dump trucks can apply to trucks that aren’t ADTs.  

People even use the generic term “haulers” for dump trucks, but people also refer to any truck in a hauling application as a “hauler” whether it has a dump body or not. 

Luckily, all dump trucks can be split into two categories: on-road and off-road before being further subdivided. If you’ve had questions, look no further. Here’s what you need to know about the different types of dump trucks.

On Road vs Off Road Dump Trucks

Off-road dump trucks

The off-road dump truck category includes just two subcategories: ADTs and rigid haul trucks. Off-road dump trucks aren’t just trucks being driven off-road; they aren’t legally allowed on the roads. 

Articulated dump trucks

As mentioned, ADTs have a center point of articulation; rigid haul trucks don’t. The articulation allows for greater maneuverability on rough terrain, but they can’t haul as much as rigid haul trucks. Manufacturers of ADTs typically make models in the 25-45 ton capacity range, and a few, international OEMs manufacture models in the 10-30 ton capacity range. Volvo Construction Equipment announced at ConExpo-Con/Agg 2017 the world’s largest ADT—the Volvo A60H—a 60-ton ADT. 

Manufacturers of ADTs available in North America include Caterpillar, John Deere, Liebherr, Volvo Construction Equipment, Bell Equipment, and Hydrema. 

Rigid haul trucks

The smallest rigid haul trucks, on the other hand, have capacities at around 60 tons. On the larger end, these trucks have capacities of up to 500 tons. They are used exclusively in mining applications, whereas ADTs get used in earthmoving, road construction, heavy civil, quarry, and mining applications. 

Manufacturers of rigid haul trucks include Caterpillar, Liebherr, Belaz, Terex and a few others. Terex sold their rigid haul truck line to Volvo Construction Equipment who is still selling them as Terex-branded trucks. 

On-road dump trucks

On-road dump trucks have capacities in the 20-30 ton range and encapsulate the nine remaining dump truck types: 

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  1. Standard dump truck
  2. Superdump truck 
  3. Transfer dump truck
  4. Truck and pup
  5. Winter service vehicles
  6. Side dump truck
  7. Semi-trailer end dump truck
  8. Semi-trailer bottom dump truck
  9. Double and triple trailer bottom dump truck

Manufacturers of on-road dump trucks include Mack Trucks and Volvo Trucks, Peterbilt and Kenworth, Freightliner and Western Star, and Navistar International Corporation. (Companies mentioned in pairs have the same parent company.) Caterpillar briefly entered this market in 2011 but discontinued manufacturing on-highway trucks a few years later.

The off-road dump truck can be further subdivided into two truck types: fixed-body trucks and tractors. 

These two different types of dump trucks are distinguished on whether the body is fixed to the truck or not. When the body is fixed to the trailer, the truck is dedicated to that application. A tractor comes equipped with an articulating trailer connection (called the fifth wheel), which allows the tractor (truck) to connect to numerous trailer types. These types of dump trucks are typically referred to as haulers.

1. Standard dump truck

A standard dump truck is probably what comes to mind when talking about dump trucks. It comes equipped with a mounted, hydraulically adjustable bed, front- and rear-steering axles and a relatively small wheelbase. This configuration makes them well-suited for maneuvering on congested jobsites and city streets, but also decreases payload. 

The dump gate of the truck is usually the classic swing gate. It can come available as a passive gate (unlock the dump gate and gravity does the rest). Or it can come as an active gate (hydraulically or electronically lifting the gate from inside the cab or with a remote). 

The other, newer gate option is a high lift tailgate. The gate doesn’t swing out; it raises straight up via hydraulics or electronics. This helps control the rate at which material is released. The ability to meter out material makes them well-suited in controlled dumping solutions, such as the dispersal of top soil in landscaping projects, or of salt in ice management applications. 

2. Superdump truck

This dump truck is similar to a standard (straight axle) dump but can carry so much more that end-users nicknamed it the “superdump”. It has additional axles—a moveable trailing axle and a liftable, load-bearing axle rated at up to 13,000 pounds payload capacity. 

When the dump is fully laden with material, the trailing axle is located 11 feet behind the rear tandem axle. This stretches the distance between the first and last axles (known as the outer “bridge” measurement) to the maximum allowable length. 

Elongating the rear of the truck allows for the weight to be evenly distributed over a larger area. Ultimately, this allows for higher hauling capacities. Depending on vehicle length and axle configuration, superdumps can be rated as high as 80,000 pounds gross vehicle weight, and carry 26 tons of payload. 

When the dump is ready to offload, two hydraulic arms lift the trailing axle toggles off the road surface on two hydraulic arms to clear the rear of the vehicle. The trailing axle retracts up to the rear of the dump. This decreases the length of the truck, making it easier and safer to maneuver. 

3. Transfer dump truck

Another way to increase the payload of a dump truck is to attach a dump trailer to it. Important to note – a truck’s gross combined weight rating (truck payload plus trailer plus trailer payload) is higher than just the truck payload. Besides increased payload, this configuration dump truck allows for carrying two types of materials without mixing them. 

The trailer is detachable but must remain attached to the dump truck to dump. It doesn’t have its own dump controls; the controls are on the truck. 

4. Truck and pup

A truck and pup is essentially the same thing as a transfer dump truck except for one difference. The trailer (which is called a pup trailer or simply a pup) is capable of standalone dumping. The controls for hydraulically lifting the dump on the pup are located on the pup and not on the truck as with a transfer dump truck. Without these controls, the pup is just a regular trailer. 

5. Winter service vehicle

A number of dump trucks are configured for snow and ice management. They still visually resemble a dump truck but with a few add-ons. However, they are rarely if ever used in dump applications. 

Instead of hauling material from one location to another location to dump it, these trucks spread material while in transit. 

The add-ons usually include salt spreaders and a snow plow so the truck can plow and spread salt or another deicer along the roads and highways. 

Trailer dumps

Four of the nine categories of on-road dump trucks are tractor-trailer types: the side dump truck, the semi-trailer end dump truck, the semi-trailer bottom dump truck, and the double and the triple trailer bottom dump truck. 

6. Semi-trailer end dump

The semi-trailer end dump is the basic form of trailer dumps just as the standard dump truck is the basic dump truck. The biggest difference between the semi-trailer end dump and a standard dump truck is one is composed of a tractor truck with three axles towing a detachable, two-axle trailer and the other is either a three or four-axle truck and no trailer.

Another difference is increased payload compared to a standard dump truck. This leads to greater ease in tipping, so these types of dump trucks aren’t well suited for rough terrain and working on steep grades. 

7. Semi-trailer bottom dump

The semi-trailer bottom dump is just like the semi-trailer end dump except it dumps its load out its bottom. 

In this case, the dump gate resembles a clam shell and is located on the bottom of the trailer. The gate can either open front to rear (called the cross-spread gate) or from the middle to the sides (called the windrow gate). The second option places a lot more material in the center whereas the first options spreads material more evenly. 

8. Double and triple trailer bottom dump

The double trailer bottom dump consists of a two-axle tractor pulling a single-axle semi-trailer and an additional full trailer. The triple trailer bottom dump consists of a two-axle tractor pulling a single-axle semi-trailer and two full trailers.

These trucks are ideal for carrying multiple types of materials to a single location.

Maneuvering, especially in reverse, is challenging compared to other dump trucks. 

9. Side dump truck

A side dump truck (sometimes shortened to SDT) dumps to the side of the trailer instead of to the rear. Dumping to the side allows for faster unloading of material than rear dumps, since the material opening is larger, and is safer, and because they are less likely to tip than rear trailer dumps. Hydraulic rams move the dump body to dump the material and reposition the dump body. Side dumps don’t have gates. 

In addition to learning more, a full understanding of these dump truck types will help you pick one that matches your needs. Once you’ve picked a dump truck and a task to complete, your search can begin. If you’re wondering where to start, then look no further. Municibid has a number of options just for you.


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