How to Ship Heavy Equipment!

Ship heavy equipment

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If you work in the heavy equipment industry, there comes a time when you might need to ship large machinery. Though the process might seem intimidating, it’s not so complicated when working with professional movers.

Heavy machinery shipping companies work professionally to ensure that your cargo is safe and gets to its destination on time.

To know more about how to ship heavy equipment, you might need to continue reading as this article will provide a detailed insight into it.

Develop A Plan Based On The Equipment You’ll Be Shipping

Based on the equipment you need to ship and its destination, there are things you should consider before contacting a shipping company. These considerations include:

Load Size

If you’re shipping large equipment such as excavators, you’ll need to work with the Department of Transportation to get the required permits and licensing for large loads. If you don’t know how to go about this step, your transportation partner might be of great help.

Multiple States/Territories

If your cargo is traveling through different states, you may require a special permit to ensure that the state laws are adhered to throughout the journey. Again, if you lack experience with this process, consider requesting your transportation partner’s help.

Loading And Unloading Destinations

You should also consider the accessibility of the equipment in loading and unloading destinations. Loading and unloading should be done in a suitable terrain for stability.

Weather Conditions

Weather conditions are another factor to consider when shipping heavy equipment. Instead of shipping your cargo in snow or a serious rainstorm, it might be better to wait to avoid putting the equipment at risk. Unsuitable weather conditions can also lead to accidents that might cost you a fortune.

Understand Different Shipping Methods

Before shipping your cargo, it’s crucial to understand different shipping methods to choose the right one. The following are some heavy equipment shipping methods that leading shipping companies commonly use:

1. Lift-On/Lift-Off

Lift-on/Lift-off or LoLo involves using a crane to lift heavy equipment such as excavators into and out of shipping conveyance. LoLo is among the simple heavy equipment shipping methods. However, since it involves a crane to lift your load, it can attract costs that can be avoided if your shipment can roll.

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2. Container Shipping

Container shipping is the most common shipping method, allowing easy loading and unloading of cargo in conveyed standard twenty or forty-foot containers. Unfortunately, it can be impossible to ship large machinery such as cranes through container shipping since they might not fit in a typical container. This might require disassembling the equipment to make it fit in the container.

While container shipping might be the most common heavy equipment shipping method, it has advantages and disadvantages. The most significant advantage of container shipping is the ease of transporting your equipment. On the other hand, it takes a lot of time to disassemble and assemble the equipment. If container shipping isn’t a suitable shipping method for you, you might consider other options that might serve you better.

3. Flat Rack Shipping

A flat rack container comes with short walls at its ends. Since this type of container doesn’t bear a roof and long walls, it’s easy to load large and uniquely shaped equipment from the sides or top. Flat rack containers are suitable for shipping heavy and oversized equipment such as buses, timber, boats, pipes, and other items.

Flat rack containers measure from 20-40ft. A 20ft flat rack container is designed to carry up to 2,000kg while a 40ft container can ship up to 4,000kg cargo. They’re made from steel and come with softwood flooring.

But how secure is the cargo being shipped in a container with three sides open? It’s essential to note that flat rack containers have lashing rings on the side rails, corners, and floor. The cargo is put in place by loop lashing using web or chain lashing. Some flat rack containers have latching belts, lashing winches, and stanchions for additional security and support of the cargo.

4. Roll-On/Roll-Off

Roll-on/Roll-off or RoRo is among the simplest shipping methods. This type of shipping is ideal for any cargo that can be rolled. Heavy equipment with wheels such as wheeled containers, trailers, or ship decks are eligible for this kind of shipping since they can easily be rolled in shipping conveyances.

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While the rolling ability of your cargo can save you money, wheeled equipment often occupies a lot of space since it can’t be stacked to maximize space. This might make the shipping more costly, especially if you’re shipping several machines.

Contact A Reputable Transportation Partner

Once you’ve developed a plan based on your cargo and have understood different shipping methods, the next step is to contact a reputable shipping company. Even if you’re capable of moving your equipment (if you’re moving within a state), it’s better to leave heavy equipment transportation to professionals.

While some leading shipping companies provide reviews from satisfied customers, it’d help to ask for recommendations for the perfect moving company from friends and colleagues and settle for the best. Hearing testimonies directly from clients will help you understand what to expect. You can also search online for a trusted heavy equipment shipping company near you.

Once you’ve decided which moving company you’ll work with, you’ll need to visit them and get a transportation quotation. The quotation should be based on the distance, type, and size of machinery you’re moving, among other factors. You can also compare transport quotations from different preferred shipping companies and settle for the cheapest one.


Heavy equipment shipping can be costly and time-consuming. However, upon delivery, the process is worth the hassle. Since heavy equipment shipping is a complicated task, it’s understandable to be overwhelmed. If you’re looking forward to shipping large equipment, it’ll help to ask for assistance from shipping experts.

Shipping professionals are experienced and will ensure your cargo gets to its destination safely. All you need is to work with a reputable moving company and rest assured that all will be well. Consider the ideas mentioned here as you plan and prepare to ship heavy equipment.

Ship heavy equipment article and permission to publish here provided by Claire Glassman. Originally written for Supply Chain Game Changer and published on March 24, 2022.

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