Heavy Equipment Shipping: All You Need to Know

02/13/2023 by Mark Mastroianna

Heavy Equipment Shipping: All You Need to Know

Whether owning or renting, heavy equipment is a big investment in your business – and you don’t want to take unnecessary risks that can lead to loss or damage during transportation. Heavy equipment shipping can be challenging, but it’s not as complicated as it appears when you have the right provider. To help you ship your heavy equipment safely, here’s some additional information you may need. 

What We Cover in This Article

What is Heavy Equipment Shipping?

Heavy equipment can be a broad term, but it usually consists of a piece of large machinery or equipment of at least 40,000 pounds or more. Due to its size and weight heavy equipment is often loaded and unloaded by a crane if it cannot be driven on/off the trailer. Often, these kinds of shipments can be oversized and/or overweight, requiring permits, escorts, route surveys, and an experienced motor carrier with specialized trailers to transport your equipment safely and effectively.

Common Types of Heavy Equipment

  • Agricultural Equipment and Machinery
  • Construction Equipment
  • CNC Machinery
  • Crawler Cranes
  • Gas & Oilfield Equipment 
  • Industrial Plant Machinery
  • Military Equipment
  • Mining Equipment Oilfield Equipment
  • Renewable Energy Parts and Components

Heavy Equipment Shipping Rules and Regulations

When it comes to heavy equipment shipping, you should have knowledge of U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) rules, regulations, and restrictions. Overlooking DOT regulations and restrictions surrounding OD/OW transportation can be both costly and time-consuming.

Heavy equipment shipping is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the U.S. DOT, and state governments. Each state varies its rules, regulations, and restrictions for permitting OD/OW travel. Be sure to double-check state regulations before transporting your equipment. Or work with an expert in the field of over-dimensional shipping. 

Looking for one place to find all you need to know about oversized shipment regulations?

Download our free over-dimensional shipping guide!

Overweight and oversized shipments can be more comprehensive as, besides the permits, you may need oversized banners, flashing lights, civilian escorts, police escorts, route surveys, bucket trucks, or even a road closure. It’s important that you always take the time to double-check that you’re in compliance with DOT rules and regulations when transporting your heavy equipment.

Need help with your oversized shipping? We have experts ready to help you.

Request a Shipping Quote with Trinity logistics.

Trailers for Heavy Equipment Shipping

Heavy equipment shipping is made possible by the various types of flatbed and specialized trailers available.

Flatbed Trailers/Open-Deck Trailers

Flatbed trailers allow for easy loading and unloading and can carry up to 48,000 pounds. When choosing your flatbed carrier, make sure to confirm that the trailer will be able to haul the weight of your equipment. Trailer dimensions are approximate: 48’ L x 102’’ W x 58’’ H   

White truck with flatbed trailer pulling large steel pipe
Gray and green truck flatbed transporting a long steel beam

There are other open-deck trailers to consider, like step-decks or drop-deck trailers. They can accommodate around 46,500 pounds and can legally haul taller products, up to 10’6’’ tall, and can be fitted with permanent or removable ramps to drive equipment on and off the trailer. Trailer dimensions range approximate:  48’ or 53’ L x 102’’ W x 36’’ to 42’’ H.   

Black truck with drop deck trailer hauling heavy equipment shipping
White trailer with a step deck trailer transporting a huge piece of pipe

Specialized Trailers for Heavy Haul Trucking

Due to the size, some heavy equipment may need a specialized trailer to accommodate its transportation.

Double-drops and Removable gooseneck (RGN) trailers are ideal for heavier machinery and equipment that needs easy loading and unloading or drive-on drive-off capabilities, and they are great for freight exceeding the legal height and weight maximums.

White truck with a double drop hauling heavy equipment shipping
Blue trailer with a removable gooseneck hauling heavy equipment shipping
Yellow truck with a removable gooseneck hauling heavy equipment shipping
Black truck with a double drop trailer hauling heavy equipment shipping

What Should I Know About My Heavy Equipment Shipping?

You’re ready to get started with heavy equipment shipping. What should you be prepared to answer when looking for a provider?

Know the Dimensions of Your Heavy Equipment

Size matters. The equipment’s dimensions and weight will help determine what kind of trailer the carrier will need to transport your freight and if any permits, escorts, or other accessorial charges are required that will ultimately determine the total shipping costs. 

Breaking Down or Shipping in One Piece?

Does your equipment need to be taken apart to ship and then reconstructed upon delivery? Can your equipment be crated or boxed? Is it more effective to break down your equipment into smaller components for shipping? If shipping in one piece, what are the things that need to be done before shipping, such as having any fluids discharged or batteries removed? These are all important questions you should know so all parties involved know what is to be expected throughout the entire shipping process.

What Equipment is Needed to Load and Unload Your Freight?

This is very important information that is needed for your shipment. Do you need a ramp, forklift, or crane to load and unload your equipment? Do you have the required equipment ready to unload and load your freight?  Or can the equipment be driven on and off of the trailer?

Know What is Covered by Your Provider’s Insurance

It’s important you know what is covered by your provider’s insurance, so you know whether you will need to buy any supplementary insurance to make sure your heavy equipment is fully protected in case of any issues.

How Much Does Heavy Equipment Shipping Cost?

While we’d love to give you exact numbers, there can be quite a few factors involved that make each quote unique, such as:

Size of Your Heavy Equipment

The larger or more oddly shaped your piece of equipment means it may need specialized trailers, permits, or routing requirements, likely raising your shipping price.

Time of Delivery

If you need your equipment delivered at a specific time, this will likely raise the shipping price as well.

Pick-up and Delivery Location

The further distance your equipment must travel, the higher it will cost you. Additionally, more congestion (think cities) in or around your pick-up or delivery location can increase your shipping costs.

Time of the Year

Adverse weather conditions, such as during the snowy and icy winter months or hurricane season, can affect your pricing if certain routes are shut off, making your equipment’s journey longer. There’s also flatbed peak shipping season, which ranges from April to October, which increases flatbed demand – and rates.

Current Fuel Rates

The more fuel costs motor carriers, the higher your shipping cost will be.

Permit or Licenses Required 

When transporting heavy equipment, oversize or overweight permits may be required. Costs can vary by state and province, and some states may take longer to issue permits due to each state’s unique regulations and infrastructure. 

Escorts Required

Escorts will increase your shipping costs as they need to be paid too! When freight is over 12ft wide or tall, it’s a good idea to check routing to see if escort cars are required. 

Preparing Heavy Equipment for Shipping 

You’ve got your quote and provider selected. What’s next? Here are the steps you should take to ensure your equipment remains safe and secure during shipping.

Have Documentation Ready

You’ll want to ensure all required documentation and permits are sorted and ready before pick up. Make sure to confirm with your shipping provider what permits are required and that they are in place to limit the chance of any shipping delays or fines.

Planning Transportation Routes, If Needed

Planning your route is necessary if your shipment is considered Oversized. Depending on the dimensions of your equipment, you may need to have your provider avoid bridges with low clearances, sharp turns, or even roads of a particular width.

Check the Condition of Your Heavy Equipment

Just as car rental services do before lending their vehicles, inspect your equipment, and take photos before shipping, so, should anything happen during the transportation process, you have it documented.

Make Sure Any Loose Parts or Tools are secured

You don’t want to lose anything important during the transportation of your equipment!

Cover Any Important Parts

Your equipment will likely be hauled through open air, facing the wind and other elements. Covering any vulnerable or important parts is a great way to ensure that your equipment stays safe and functional.

Check Your Equipment’s Manual

The manufacturer’s manual is a great resource for getting your equipment ready for shipping. It will help you determine exactly what steps you need to take before pick-up.

Ask Your Provider How You Can Help

If you’re unsure, ask your provider how you can help make your equipment’s transportation a smooth process. Based on their experience and expertise, they can give you tips and advice and will appreciate you taking this extra step to work together as a team so your equipment can be delivered safely.

Shipping Heavy Equipment Internationally

What if you need to ship your heavy equipment internationally? There can be many challenges to overcome, which you may find incredibly difficult to do alone. In this case, it makes the most sense to hire an expert to help you. While it can be costly, it’s the most stress-free way to safely transport your heavy equipment internationally.

Here are some tips to ensure your international heavy equipment shipping is successful.

  1. Make sure the provider you select to help you with your international shipping is experienced, has relevant credentials, and has a good reputation.
  2. Just like shipping inland, know the dimensions and weight of your heavy equipment to inform your provider.
  3. Determine the best shipping method for you. Your expert provider can help you figure this out. Your options are
    • Roll on/Roll off (RoRo) is popular and involves driving the machinery onto a flatbed style truck at the pick-up location and rolling it off after it arrives at its destination. RoRo is speedy, efficient, and often less costly than your other shipping methods.
    • Flat rack containers have walls or support posts on the ends, allowing loading from the top or sides. Flat racks mean your equipment is exposed to open air and so this method can be less costly, but then your equipment is exposed to the elements throughout its transport.
    • Lift on/lift off (LoLo) is a method of loading and unloading containerized cargo over the top of a shipping vessel using cranes or derricks. LoLo ships usually have onboard cranes and can often carry a larger container capacity.
  4. Be prepared for the costs. With international shipping, you have extra costs such as taxes, tariffs, and customs checks.

Choosing the Right Heavy Equipment Shipping Provider is Important

You have many options for selecting a provider to help you with your heavy equipment shipping needs. Though too many options can feel overwhelming. How do you know you’re making the best choice for your company and freight?

Here are some qualities you should consider when looking for a provider.

Extensive Experience in Heavy Equipment Shipping

You’ll want to look for a company that has been in business for a long time, has the experience transporting the heavy equipment you’re shipping, and has a good reputation. This is a great opportunity to ask for references and contact them for their feedback.

Offers Flexible Shipping Solutions for Your Unique Needs

Do you need help with prepping your equipment for shipping, obtaining any necessary permits, or any other specialized services? Make sure the provider you’re considering has all the solutions you may need.

Carries the Proper Insurance

You want to make sure your heavy equipment is protected should anything happen during the shipping process. Verify that the provider you’re considering has the appropriate insurance to cover your equipment and enough liability insurance should anything else occur. 

Trinity can help with Your Heavy Equipment Shipping 

It’s easy to see that heavy equipment shipping has the potential to be a complicated process. If you’re looking for a provider that can help simplify your shipping, saving you time and stress,  please consider working with Trinity Logistics.

Trinity Logistics is an industry-leading third-party logistics company with expert knowledge, ready to help you with your oversized, heavy haul, or any other flatbed shipments. We do this by providing our best-in-class People-Centric service and building strong relationships with skilled and experienced motor carriers.

We have the experience you’re looking for and the reliable carrier relationships you need to move your heavy equipment safely, securely, and on time.

Learn how Trinity can help you with your shipping