Moving heavy equipment can be dangerous if not done properly. In order to successfully transport construction, agricultural, manufacturing, and other types of heavy equipment, you should follow these tips to prepare your equipment for shipping. These tips will keep your equipment safe during transportation as well as help save you from paying extra costs associated with shipping heavy equipment.

Tip #1: Measure Everything and Try to Avoid Oversize Load Designations

When you are moving heavy equipment, you want to try to avoid your load being designated as an “oversize load” or “wide load.” Shipping these loads can require that you pay extra money in certain states or municipalities to obtain the necessary permits. Before shipping heavy equipment, measure it to see if it falls within the standard freight size, and if it doesn’t, then you may want to try taking steps to rectify that.

Height: The standard height is 13 feet and 6 inches tall. Only a few states will allow loads that are taller than this. If you are moving heavy equipment that is taller than 13.5 feet, then you may want to try using a step-deck or RGN trailer. These trailers ride lower to the ground than a traditional flatbed trailer. The RGN is lowest, so it can provide extra clearance for tall equipment. Or, if you can decrease the height of your tall equipment in some way, you should do it. For example, when transporting a crane, excavator, or other piece of equipment that has a tall boom or bucket, you should retract it as much as possible or remove it prior to shipping. This can often be enough to avoid the oversize load designation. While this may mean you need to send two shipments, it can still be the easier and less expensive option than shipping an oversize load.

Weight: In most states, a load will be considered oversize if it weighs more than 40,000 pounds. You will have to pay oversize fees if your load exceeds the weight limit. However, you may be able to avoid this by removing accessories and attachments on your heavy equipment. Ship these removable items separately to decrease the weight of the freight and lower shipping costs.

Length: In most states, a load can be up to 53 feet long. This is typically plenty for shipping heavy equipment, as not many pieces of equipment are longer. However, if you are moving heavy equipment that exceeds 53 feet in length, try removing any accessories and attachments and shipping them separately so that you can achieve the standard length.

Width: The standard width is 8 feet and 6 inches. Unfortunately, width is usually the most difficult measurement to reduce if your heavy equipment is considered a wide load. If the load is too wide because of the equipment’s body or tracks, you can’t really do much to fix this. Removing the tracks is not worth the cost savings. However, if it is your heavy equipment’s tires that put the load over the edge, you may want to consider removing them to make the shipment narrower. If you cannot make your heavy equipment fit the standard width criteria, then you will need to pay the extra fees for a wide load shipment.

If you cannot reduce your heavy equipment’s measurements to avoid being designated as an oversize or wide load, then you will need to plan your shipping budget accordingly. Allow for the extra expense of additional permits and the necessary safety banners, signs, lights, and escort vehicle(s).

Tip #2: Secure All Parts and Attachments

To ensure safety while moving heavy equipment, you should properly prepare the equipment prior to shipping. You should secure all parts and attachments so that your heavy equipment will not be damaged during transportation. A transportation company will handle strapping down and securing your equipment on the trailer, but you should secure the different parts of your equipment to make sure it won’t be damaged. The owner’s manual will likely offer specific instructions on how to prepare the piece of equipment for transportation. You should adhere to all the special precautions it provides. Follow the following tips to prepare your equipment before pickup so that it will stay in good condition throughout transportation.

  • Make sure there isn’t anything that can move around in the operating cab. You don’t want any objects to shift during transportation and damage any levers, buttons, or knobs. Clear everything out of the cab and storage spaces and use bubble wrap to protect any delicate interior components.
  • Cover the exhaust stack so that foreign substances, such as dust, road grit, or debris, cannot enter the exhaust system. This is especially important when moving heavy equipment on an open-air flatbed.
  • Disconnect the machinery’s battery to keep it from draining during shipping and to disable all alarm systems. Make sure you keep track of the batteries so that they will get to the destination at the same time as the equipment.
  • Wash the equipment and take photos. If the machine is clean, then it will be easier to find tie-down points and handholds. Having photos of the equipment prior to shipping will help you identify any damage that may have occurred during transportation.

Tip #3: Figure Out Pickup Logistics

Do you want to let the transportation company load your heavy equipment onto the trailer, or do you want one of your own drivers to do it? If you want one of your drivers to load the equipment, make sure they will be ready and at the location on time. Do you have enough room at the location for the loading of your heavy equipment? If not, move things around to make room before the transportation company arrives. Do you have all the necessary permits for moving heavy equipment, or is the transportation company obtaining them? These are all logistics that you need to work out before your scheduled pickup time. Doing so will make the transportation process run much more smoothly.

Tip #4: Hire a Reliable Transportation Company

When you are moving heavy equipment, you want to make sure the transportation company you hire is reliable. You want a company who is an expert in the field. While a newer transportation company may have lower rates, an experienced company will have the expertise necessary for shipping heavy equipment the right way and without costly damage. When looking for a company, ask for a referral from other industry professionals. Find out who they have used for different services and how they felt about the experience. Additionally, check out any customer reviews that have been made about a transportation company. This will let you know if they have a reliable track record and whether customers are satisfied with their services. Finally, make sure the transportation company has all the required licensing and insurance. Do not hire a company that is unwilling to provide proof of these.

Rowe Transfer: Moving Heavy Equipment Since 1883

Rowe Transfer is a transportation company based out of Knoxville, TN, that specializes in moving heavy equipment. Because we have been in the business for over a hundred years, we know 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.