Heavy haul, wide, and oversized load transportation is a complicated business involving multiple safety and regulatory precautions. Simply moving large construction, agricultural and manufacturing equipment onto a truck often involves special rigging, and transporting it across states or even locally means managing multiple permits and regulations. Protecting your equipment and shipping it safely and without delays requires a bit of background as to what all is involved in transporting wide loads, oversized loads and heavy hauls.
What is an Oversize Load or Wide Load?
All states limit the length, height, width and weight of interstate shipments, and the measurements determining oversized loads vary a fair bit by state. Some general limits that would push your shipment into an oversized load category are:
- Width of more than 8.5 feet
- Height of more than 8.5 feet (can be up to 13.5 feet)
- Length of more than 50 feet (48 to 53 feet, depending on the state)
- Weight of more than 46,000 pounds (depends on the truck, determined per axle)
Width is by far the most limiting and consistent factor, and that’s why the terms wide load and oversized load usually mean the same thing. Any shipment with a load width of over 8.5 feet is legally an oversized load because the measurement is based on the standard width of interstate lanes (12 feet). If you’re shipping locally, the width limitation might be even smaller, depending on the size of the roads on your route. Shipments with loads that are 12 or 14 feet wide have extra requirements and restrictions like designated travel times and pilot or escort vehicles. Shipments with loads that are 16 feet or wider fall into a superload category that might require police attendance for a temporary road closure.
Weight restrictions are applied per axle, and it’s easy for a load to exceed axle limits even if it’s under the total weight limit if the load isn’t distributed properly. Knowing axle weight limitations can help you adjust your load to make the shipment legal without the need for special permits. There are also federal weight regulations to consider, and specific restrictions on bridge weights.
Examples of Oversize or Wide Loads
The terms oversize load and wide load have nothing to do with the actual type of cargo and everything to do with its dimensions. But equipment that typically falls into the oversize load category includes:
- Construction equipment: cranes, backhoes, dump trucks and bulldozers
- Construction materials: steel beams and piping
- Agricultural equipment: combines and tractors
- Manufacturing equipment: assembly lines, conveyors and grinders
- Mobile and prefabricated homes
How to prepare your oversized load or heavy equipment for shipping
Rowe Transfer goes the extra mile to make shipping oversize loads easy from start to finish. There are a few tasks we suggest clients undertake that can speed up the process and be useful while we’re shipping your heavy equipment.
- Documentation: Have the equipment measurements and any available manuals on hand for easy reference before and during the oversize load shipment.
- Prep the Equipment: Tighten loose parts, drain fluids, remove batteries and identify parts of the equipment that need protection from the outside elements.
- Prep the Shipment Space: Clear the space around the equipment of debris and any obstacles that are moveable. Our team will make a precise exit strategy for the equipment, including moving walls or expanding doors if necessary.
5 Key Considerations for Wide Load And Oversized Shipping
If you’re just starting to plan the heavy equipment moving process, we recommend a few initial steps for making a plan. Oversize load shipping and heavy hauls need a little extra planning in 5 key areas, all of which tend to affect each other and depend on the route and size of the load.
Every state has its own regulatory agency that issues permits for oversize loads, but most are part of the state’s department of transportation. Truck drivers—or transportation companies employing the truck drivers—obtain the permits. Penalties for not adhering to permits, or not having the required permit, lead to significant fines. You can obtain one-time permits, or multi-haul permits for shipments of similar cargo, or even annual permits for consistently shipping the same oversized products (like construction materials or prefabricated homes).
If your load can be broken down to fit within size restrictions, it should be—it will not only save time and money, but also obtaining an oversize permit for splitable loads can be difficult. Rowe Transfer also has internal guidelines for wide loads to ensure safety, security and on-time delivery.
Many states restrict when wide loads can be on the road to help ensure public safety and limit traffic. Usually, these restrictions limit oversize load transport on weekends, holidays and at night. In most states, if the load requires pilot or escort vehicles, it can only be on the road 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset. Knowing these restrictions in every state along the shipment’s route can make a huge difference to cost and schedule.
Safety is always Rowe Transfer’s top priority—and that includes safety to our workers and the public as well as ensuring your equipment is safe and secure. Safety equipment for oversize loads include signs, signals and flags that make the load size obvious to other drivers and meet the state requirements (often a prescribed yellow and black WIDE LOAD sign placed on the front and rear of the load). For loads that can be moved at night, safety equipment includes lights on all the load corners and on any extremities that go beyond the corners.
Rowe is consistently recognized for our safety record and our attention to continuous safety improvement. Some of our safety regulations surrounding wide load shipments include:
- Truck inspection at every stop to ensure the load is secure (ties downs, etc. are in place) and any safety signals and markers are in their proper place.
- Prepared and defensive driving that takes into account traffic, accidents road conditions and construction and weather.
- The right trucks, trailers and drivers for the job—transportation equipment that’s in excellent condition and drivers with experience in wide load transport.
Escort or pilot vehicles—that drive along the route before or after the load—are some of the more common requirements for wide loads. The escorts serve both to warn the truck driver (of construction work, accidents, etc.) and as an extra safety alert to the public.
The load width requiring escort vehicles usually ranges from 10 to 14 feet, but in some states includes all oversize loads. The number and placement of escort vehicles can also vary by state (one or two, in front of or behind or both), and it’s most cost effective to use the minimum escort vehicles necessary for each segment of the shipment.
Cost for oversize load and heavy hauling can vary widely depending on the load dimensions and route. Permit fees are based on the size and weight of the load and transport vehicle, and can range from Fifty dollars to several thousand dollars. Whether the load needs escort vehicles and can drive at night or on weekends factor into pricing. There are many factors that come into play when calculating the actual cost to haul over-dimensional loads. For instance if the load requires more than the standard five axles to disburse the weight, then the cost could be calculated by the number of axles required on the ground multiplied by the miles driven, and additional costs of escort vehicles and permits.
Rowe Transfer also always recommends supplementary insurance on expensive or irreplaceable equipment to account for unforeseen road conditions or accidents beyond the driver’s control.
How to Choose an Oversize Load Transportation Company
Rates are important, but experience and safety are the main key factors determining which transportation company you should choose to ship your oversize load. We recommend looking at several factors that can help you decide how to ship your heavy haul safely, on budget and on time:
- Safety and service awards and customer reviews
- Equipment inventory, to ensure they can meet the unique needs of your shipment
- Expertise and demonstrated knowledge of what it will take to transport your heavy equipment
Because we have been in the business for over a hundred years, Rowe Transfer knows all the tricks to successfully transport all types of heavy equipment. We specialize in moving loads that are too big or difficult for most transportation companies to handle. Whether you need a piece of heavy equipment moved across town or across the county, we have you covered. We will work with you every step of the way, from planning through execution, so you can have peace of mind that your heavy equipment will be safe and secure during the entire transportation process. If you are ready to enlist our help in shipping heavy equipment, give us a call today at 865-523-0421 or reach out to us online.