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Heavy Machinery Shipping: Find Secure Services You Can Trust

April 28, 2020
 By Natalie Kienzle
Heavy Machinery Shipping: Find Secure Services You Can Trust
Last Modified: January 2, 2024
Perhaps the only thing scarier than actually moving a multi-million dollar piece of equipment is finding the company to do so in the first place. It’s necessary to find a carrier that has the right equipment and the expertise in using it.
Shipping Methods   |   Dry Van vs Flatbed   |   Shipping Regulations   |   Common Dangers   |   Heavy Haul Industries   |   Construction   |   Mining   |   Agriculture   |   Shipping Cost   |   Picking a Shipping Service   |   Our Services

Heavy machinery shipping is a vital step in many critical supply chains. Manufacturing and construction, for example, rely on a wide range of machinery and equipment to run their operations. If a shipment containing essential machinery and equipment doesn’t arrive as expected, production can’t move forward.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations for oversized shipments keep people and equipment safe. Heavy machinery transportation typically uses various flatbed trailers, thanks to their flexibility of loading and unloading. It’s important to find a carrier that has the right equipment and a compliant safety record. 

Heavy Haul and Oversized moves machinery shipments every day for our shipping partners. Our reliable transportation and world-class customer service make us a leader in shipping machinery.  Find everything you need to know about heavy machinery shipping in our comprehensive guide.

How is Heavy Machinery Shipped?

Heavy machinery can be shipped using different methods, depending on the size, weight, and shape of the equipment. There are several transport solutions for shipping heavy machinery, each with its own pros and cons. The two primary methods of shipping heavy machinery are dry van and flatbed transport.

Freight trucks move massive machines all across the U.S. every day. Speed and safety are the top priorities, and trucks meet both of these needs. 

Most often, machines are securely strapped and palletized before being loaded onto a truck. Palletizing heavy machinery makes it easier to load and unload the shipment using standard equipment such as a forklift. 

When machines can’t fit on a pallet, they are loaded directly onto a truck using special lift equipment. 

It’s also important to think about the internal components of different heavy machinery. Some equipment will have internal mechanisms and materials requiring it to stay in an upright position. Failure to do this can cause extensive damage, resulting in a significant financial loss.

Examples of machinery with internal components that need careful balancing include:

  • Hydraulic press
  • X-ray machines
  • MRI devices
  • Industrial dishwashers
  • Elevators
  • Aircraft parts
  • Amusement park rides

Be aware of the balancing needs of your machinery and clearly communicate this when seeking quotes from transport companies. 

Heavy Haul and Oversized isn’t new to moving sensitive and high-quality freight. We handle and safely transport challenging freight every day. Your valuable machinery is handled with the proper care and attention that it needs when you ship with us.

shipping machinery

Dry Van vs Flatbed For Shipping Machinery

Dry van shipping is a common shipping solution for transporting heavy machinery. This method involves loading the equipment onto a specialized dry van, which is then driven to its destination. 

Dry van shipping is ideal for shorter distances and can be more cost-effective than other methods. For protection, a dry van does get the job done with coverage for the machinery on all sides.

On the downside, a dry van is enclosed, so the equipment being shipped can’t exceed the trailer dimensions. In a dry van, you’re also limited when loading and unloading. Your equipment will have to enter and exit through the rear of the vehicle with standard equipment (forklift or pallet jack).

Examples of when dry van shipping may be appropriate include:

  • Transporting smaller equipment, such as tractors or bulldozers, over short distances.
  • Moving equipment between job sites within a local area.
  • Shipping equipment that is not oversized or overweight.
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Flatbed shipping is another popular method for transporting heavy machinery. Shipments that don’t fit inside a dry van trailer can easily be hauled on a flatbed. This method involves loading the equipment onto a flatbed trailer, which is then driven to its destination. 

Flatbed shipping is ideal for oversized or overweight equipment, as well as for longer distances. There are also many kinds of flatbed specialty trailers such as step deck trailers and lowboys.

Examples of when flatbed shipping may be appropriate include:

  • Transporting large equipment, such as cranes or excavators, over longer distances.
  • Moving equipment to remote or hard-to-reach locations, such as construction sites in rural areas.
  • Shipping equipment that is oversized or overweight.

Since a flatbed trailer can be loaded and unloaded from all sides, it offers a few distinct advantages:

  1. A loading dock isn’t required. This is in stark contrast to a dry van, which is designed specifically for use with loading docks.
  2. Machinery can be unloaded with specialized equipment. A forklift, crane, or even a pallet jack can be placed right next to a trailer to easily load and unload. 
  3. More flexibility for loading and unloading. Often, loading dock schedules can be crowded and require extra coordination and time to manage. This isn’t the case when shipping machinery on flatbeds. These trucks can load and unload in different areas, leading to more convenience. 

By understanding the different methods of heavy machinery shipping and their advantages and disadvantages, you can choose the method that is best suited to your needs. Whether you opt for dry van shipping or flatbed shipping, it is important to work with an experienced and reputable shipping company that can ensure your equipment arrives at its destination safely and securely.

Heavy Haul and Oversized has the knowledge and experience to ensure that your valuable machinery is shipped on the right trailer and handled properly.

If digging is required at a job site, then read our article on backhoe shipping.

Heavy Haul Machinery Shipping Regulations

The transport of heavy machinery is subject to federal and state regulations to ensure the safety of the public and the environment. These regulations cover weight restrictions, route restrictions, permits, and approvals, and safety regulations for loading, unloading, and transportation.

Adding even more complexity to this is the fact that each state has their own regulations for shipping oversized equipment. For interstate heavy haul machinery shipments, all details of the shipment will need to be carefully planned out to ensure compliance with these regulations. 

Heavy haul shipping regulations for each state can vary in terms of:

  • Permit requirements: A state-specific permit will be required for each state that the heavy haul shipment travels through. 
  • Escort/pilot vehicle requirements: Once your shipment exceeds a certain threshold in terms of size, a pilot and/or escort vehicle will be required. 
  • When the shipment can be on the road: Most states don’t allow oversized loads to be on the road from sunset to sunrise. This is in place to reduce the risk of accidents caused by low visibility. There are often holiday restrictions in place as well.
  • Where the shipment can go: When you’re dealing with heavy equipment, it’s not unusual for the dimensions of your machinery freight to dictate the route of the shipment. Your machinery may be too wide, tall, or heavy to travel on certain roads. 

Make sure you contact with an experienced heavy haul company experienced in the legal logistics of heavy and oversized freight.

Common Dangers of Heavy Machinery Shipping

The transport of heavy machinery involves several risks and hazards that can cause accidents, damage to equipment, and injury to personnel. 

Heavy machinery used in the mining and construction industry are extremely heavy and if not properly loaded and secured, pose a serious liability. Not to mention, any damage results in a hefty price tag as well.

Average Operating Weight of Heavy Haul Qualified Machinery

EquipmentOperating Weight
Asphalt Pavers40,000 – 45,000 lbs
Draglines8.5 – 9.1 million lbs
Drill Rigs124,000 – 141,000 lbs
Hydraulic Mining Shovels648,000 – 892,000 lbs
Pipe Layers90,000 – 170,000 lbs
Off-Highway Mining Trucks851,000 – 1.37 million lbs
Source: CAT

Even simple mistakes in shipping such machines can result in damage to critical components. It’s important for carriers in the heavy equipment industry to plan ahead for common dangers to ensure safe delivery of even the biggest machines.

Some of the most common dangers of heavy machinery shipping include:

  1. Accidents during loading and unloading: Loading and unloading heavy machinery requires specialized equipment and expertise. Accidents can occur when machinery is not adequately secured or lifted, causing it to fall or tip over.
  2. Equipment damage during transit: Heavy machinery can sustain damage during transport due to road vibrations, shifting weight, or improper securing. Damage to equipment can lead to delays, repairs, and loss of revenue.
  3. Road accidents due to oversized and overweight loads: Oversized and overweight loads can be challenging to maneuver on highways and local roads, increasing the risk of accidents, damage to infrastructure, and delays.
  4. Environmental hazards during transportation: Heavy machinery can pose a risk to the environment during transportation. Equipment that leaks or spills hazardous materials can cause environmental damage, leading to fines, penalties, and cleanup costs.

As you can see, there’s a lot involved with heavy haul machinery shipments. Heavy Haul and Oversized knows what it takes to safely handle these loads for you. When you’re ready to move your machinery, our team can provide you with quick and transparent heavy haul freight rates.

heavy machinery hanging from a crane

What Industries Need Heavy Machinery Transport?

Heavy equipment transport is a crucial aspect of many industries that rely on large machinery to get the job done. From construction to mining to agriculture, heavy machinery is essential for completing complex projects and meeting production goals.

These industries rely on specialized equipment and experienced professionals to ensure the safe and efficient transport of their equipment.

Construction Industry

The construction industry is one of the most significant users of heavy machinery transport services. Construction projects require a wide range of equipment. Transporting it to job sites can be a challenge, as most of the equipment requires specialized trucks and trailers. Additionally, many construction projects are located in remote or hard-to-reach locations, making heavy machinery transport even more crucial.

Examples of equipment commonly transported by the construction industry include:

  • Excavators
  • Backhoes
  • Bulldozers
  • Cranes
  • Concrete pumps
  • Dump trucks

The shipping process must be planned out from start to finish, ensuring all laws are followed and the right equipment is used. 

Mining Industry

The mining industry is another major user of heavy machinery transport services. This industry requires the transport of large mining equipment, such as drilling rigs, conveyor systems, and earth movers. This equipment can weigh several tons and requires specialized trailers and heavy haulers for transport. 

Examples of equipment commonly transported by the mining industry include:

  • Loaders
  • Drilling equipment
  • Crushers
  • Conveyors
  • Smelters
  • Earth movers

Heavy machinery transport services can provide the necessary equipment and expertise to move this equipment safely and efficiently.

Agricultural Industry

Agricultural operations require large equipment for planting, harvesting, and processing crops. This equipment can range from tractors and harvesters to irrigation systems and grain silos. Transporting this equipment to farms and fields across the country can be a challenge, requiring specialized trucks and trailers.

Examples of equipment commonly transported by the agriculture industry include:

  • Tractors
  • Combines
  • Irrigation Systems
  • Harvesters
  • Tillers
  • Planters

Harvest and planting seasons will impact the demand for heavy equipment shipping in the agricultural industry. 

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How Much Does it Cost to Ship Heavy Machinery?

The cost of heavy machinery transportation varies depending on various factors, including the size and weight of the equipment, the distance traveled, and the type of equipment used for shipping. It is essential to obtain quotes from several shipping companies to compare prices and services. 

Short intrastate shipments (500 miles or less) will typically remain under $1,000. The shipping costs of transports that cross multiple states and go beyond 500 miles are more likely to be $1,000 and above. It’s worth noting that flatbed trailers will typically cost a few hundred dollars more than dry vans. 

Heavy haul shipments will carry an even higher price tag, especially when crossing multiple states. The more resources that are required (pilot vehicles, road closures, etc.) the higher the cost to ship the oversized machinery. When comparing rates, be sure to consider the level of service and expertise offered by each company. 

Consider factors such as:

  • Experience
  • Safety record
  • Insurance coverage
  • Pricing options

It may be tempting to choose the lowest price, but it is important to remember that the cheapest option may not always be the safest or most reliable. Choosing experience and quality is the best protection for your heavy machinery shipping needs.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Heavy Machinery Shipping Services

When it comes to selecting the right heavy machinery shipping services, there are several factors to consider. These factors include the experience and expertise of the shipping company, their equipment and resources, their safety record, and their insurance coverage.

Here are some tips to help you choose the right company for your needs:

  1. Do your research: Take the time to research different shipping companies to find the ones that specialize in heavy machinery transportation. Look for reviews from previous customers to gauge their level of service and expertise.
  1. Check their credentials: Ensure that the shipping company has all the necessary licenses, permits, and certifications required for heavy machinery transportation. Verify their safety record and compliance with federal and state regulations.
  1. Ask about their equipment and resources: Make sure that the shipping company has the right equipment and resources to transport your equipment safely and efficiently. Ask about their trucks, trailers, and loading and unloading equipment, as well as their network of terminals and storage facilities.
  1. Inquire about insurance coverage: Make sure that the shipping company has adequate insurance coverage to protect your equipment during transit. Ask about their liability insurance, cargo insurance, and workers’ compensation insurance.

At Heavy Haul and Oversized, we do our best to meet and exceed the expectations of our clients. Speak with one of our heavy haul freight specialists to find more information about our company and credentials.

Book Heavy Machinery Shipping With Heavy Haul and Oversized

When you need heavy machinery shipping, Heavy Haul and Oversized is prepared to get the job done for you. Our experienced and knowledgeable logistics experts ensure that your valuable freight is handled the way it should be. Whether you’re transporting construction equipment, machinery, or any other type of freight, we’re up to the task.

  • Know where your freight is at all times with 24/7 freight visibility 
  • No worries thanks to our 99.5% on-time delivery rate 
  • Comprehensive 3PL services create a one-stop shop

To receive a freight shipping quote, contact us today at (866) 902-2713. We’re standing by and ready to handle all of your heavy machinery shipping needs.

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