Terminal Tractors, Yard Spotters, Yard Jockeys, Etc. — What You Need to Know

For companies that need to move trailers around their site, a terminal tractor is an essential piece of equipment. Known by many names (terminal tractors are also called yard spotters, yard trucks, spotter trucks, yard jockeys, yard goats, mules, tractors, etc.), these durable workhorses can be found at most cargo yards, ports, large warehouse operations and intermodal distribution facilities.

Their function is to help keep the trailer unloading process moving smoothly in your yard or terminal. Large-scale operations tend to have anywhere from one to a fleet of terminal tractors, with some companies purchasing the equipment outright or leasing it, and others relying on rental units during busy times. A uniquely specialized piece of equipment, terminal tractors generally feature:

  • A full-height rear door for easy access to the trailer connections
  • A short wheelbase and tight turning radius for maneuverability
  • Durable construction needed to stand up to the intense demands of hooking up to and hauling extremely heavy trailers
  • A fifth-wheel coupling, along with a lifting mechanism allows the semi-trailer’s legs to remain in the lowered position during transport

Terminal Tractors and Yard Spotters in Action

When you imagine the activity at a busy shipping port, for example, it is instantly obvious why logistics operators would need the best possible equipment for the job of muscling around hefty, cumbersome trailers and shipping containers. In fact, this need is exactly what prompted one of the industry’s leading terminal tractor providers to move from using equipment made by other companies to begin manufacturing its own machines.

Savannah-based TICO had built a substantial business renting terminal tractors and related equipment to port operators — offering its clients the benefit of always having the equipment available when needed, without the responsibility of ownership and maintenance. TICO developed such deep experience with terminal tractors that company leadership eventually decided to begin building their own.

The company built about 1,200 tractors for its own fleet before it decided to begin offering them for sale. Today, the TICO Pro-Spotter is considered by many to be the best terminal tractor in the industry. Featuring a continuously welded frame made from 100% American steel, the Pro-Spotter, according to TICO, “is the result of continuous innovation and unflinching dedication to creating the ideal tractor — for our use, and yours.”

The fact that the company operates thousands of its own trucks in addition to manufacturing them “will always set TICO apart from others in the terminal tractor space,” according to the company, which regards its ongoing work in the field as invaluable “real-world R&D.”

Purchase, Lease or Rent the TICO Pro-Spotter

The TICO Pro-Spotter is the terminal tractor of choice at NITCO, New England’s leading provider of forklifts, materials handling equipment and logistics solutions. And while a variety of different terms are used to describe the terminal tractor/yard jockey line of equipment, some of NITCO’s customers have been asking for the Pro-Spotter by name. “They want to see this truck,” said Brenden Flagg, sales manager of specialty equipment at NITCO.

In addition to its many state-of-the-art features around durability, maintainability and driver performance, the Pro-Spotter is powered by a Cummins diesel engine. NITCO, with a service department staffed by 175 expert technicians, is Cummins certified, according to Flagg, noting that NITCO works closely with all of its customers to guarantee first-rate service and minimal downtime.

Flagg said that in addition to ongoing interest from companies looking to purchase or lease, there is also a strong demand for terminal tractor rentals. The rental market includes both companies that need a short-term replacement for a machine that is sidelined for repair, as well as seasonal needs (especially during the holidays) from package delivery giants like UPS and FedEx.

Contact NITCO today to learn more about the TICO Pro-Spotter, or to explore a wide range of cutting-edge innovations designed to help you get the job done more efficiently.

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