How to Pick the Best Yard Spotter for Your Site

While most trucks are built to handle long hours and long distances on the road, some specialized trucks are necessary for warehouse and unloading operations. These specialized trucks are often smaller and more suited for a specific area like a warehouse or yard. One of the most important trucks for yard operations is the yard spotter.

Yard spotters, also known as terminal trucks, yard trucks, yard jockeys, mules, or tractors, are necessary for many unloading and loading tasks. These sturdy, single-person vehicles are perfect for warehouse and cargo yard use.

Yard spotters can transfer trailers and shipping containers within a yard from one location to another. Larger operations may need fleets solely comprised of yard spotters. Whether you have a large or small fleet, you will likely need a yard spotter for your site. Here are a few ways to pick the best yard spotter for your needs.

Maneuverability and Steady Speed

The best yard spotters offer easy access to the trailer connections that attach the cab to the trailer it is moving. While most truck cabs only have doors on the side, yard spotters usually have a full-height door in the back, which allows the driver access to the rear connections. In addition, yard spotters usually have a shorter wheelbase with a tight turning radius.

The shorter wheelbase means that the truck sits lower to the ground. The lower position means that the wheels can turn more tightly without the cab tipping or losing balance. This allows for more maneuverability while still maintaining a sturdy construction, which allows yard spotters to hook up to and haul heavy trailers.

Since yard spotters mostly stay in the yard, they do not need to go fast. Instead, the best yard spotters need to be able to maintain a slow, steady speed while still having enough maneuverability to make tight turns.

Heating and Air Conditioning

Heating and air conditioning weren’t as common in yard spotters just a few years ago, but these days they are standard in most yard trucks. While older models may not offer it, these amenities improve retention and comfort for drivers. In addition, because yard spotters are so small, their engines don’t produce a lot of heat, so consider getting a secondary heating system for winter seasons.

Eco-Friendly Options

Certain tractors are specifically designed to reduce the environmental impact of the truck. In addition to less power usage, certain greener options can actually make the yard safer for drivers.

For example, LED lights not only use less power, but they provide more visibility for the driver and more safety for other truckers in the yard than regular incandescent or halogen lamps. This makes the trucks both safer and more functional.

Lifting Capabilities

Yard spotters are often smaller than other trucks, but they need to be able to haul much bigger and heavier trucks and trailers. Good yard spotters have a fifth-wheel coupling, a type of coupling that links the tractor or truck with the trailer. Fifth-wheel couplings offer better towing stability and allow the front axle assembly to pivot horizontally.

In addition, yard spotters usually have a specialized lifting mechanism that allows them to haul semi-trailers that have their legs in a lowered position. The lowered position of the legs allows the trailer to stand while uncoupled, and these legs usually have to be raised when connected to a truck or cab.

However, trailers can be hooked to a yard spotter without changing their leg position, which lowers the amount of time transfers take. Look for yard spotters that have continuously welded frames for the best experience in durability and lifting strength.

Customizable Options

Yard spotters have to be versatile, and this means that customization is important to longevity. Some trucks offer several variations that make it easy to find a model that fits your business’s needs. Being able to customize seat height, interior space, and other elements of the car experience, like music and comfort, can make driving easier for the trucker.

360-Degree Vision

Unlike trucks that are used on the highway and that don’t back up easily or turn sharply, yard spotters need to be able to turn and back up constantly. Because of this, you should find a spotter that offers clear 360-degree vision through the back and side windows.

Some customizations that help with visibility include a swiveling seat and roomy cab. This maximizes visibility, and, coupled with LED lights and customized seat height, makes the yard spotter more efficient and safe in the yard and around other trucks and drivers.

These are just a few of the main things to look for when picking the best yard spotter for your site. These versatile tractors are useful for many types of yard and warehouse jobs, so let Arrow Truck Sales help you find one that suits your needs today.