If you work in construction or heavy industry, there may come a time when you need to ship heavy equipment to begin a new project or augment your on-site equipment. And while the process of shipping heavy equipment may seem intimidating, it’s not as complicated as it may appear – particularly if you work with an experienced transportation and logistics company.
In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know and think about when you’re transporting heavy equipment from state-to-state.
1. Come Up With A Plan Based On The Equipment You Need To Move
Depending on the equipment you need to move and its destination, there are some considerations you may need to think about before you contact a transportation company.
- Oversized load – If you’re moving a heavy piece of equipment – such as a bulldozer – it may meet oversized load criteria. You will need to work with the state Department of Transportation or the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to obtain the proper permits and licensing for an oversized load. Your transportation partner can help you with this step.
- Multiple states/territories – If your shipment will be traveling through multiple states, you may need to get special permits and ensure that state laws are followed throughout the entire journey of your shipment. Again, your transportation partner can help you with this step if you don’t have experience doing this on your own.
- Loading/unloading destinations – You’ll need to consider the accessibility of the equipment for loading and unloading. A bulldozer, for example, should be moved from a muddy or unpaved area to a paved area before it’s loaded onto a semi-truck. When it comes to unloading, you’ll also need to consider the capabilities of the truck and choose an area with the proper terrain, ground conditions and stability.
- Weather conditions – Check on the weather throughout the transport route. It may be worth waiting to avoid ice/snow storms and serious rain storms. Inclement weather can cause delays in your shipment and put it at risk.
2. Find A Qualified, Trustworthy Transportation Partner
Once you’ve thought through the basic parameters of your shipment plan and you’ve considered the above factors, you’ll need to contact a local transportation partner. Even if you have the equipment (such as heavy-duty trucks) necessary to move your own equipment, it’s usually still a good idea to leave heavy machinery transportation up to the professionals.
Try asking for recommendations for transportation companies among colleagues and others in your industry. You can also do a bit of Googling and online research to find trustworthy heavy equipment transportation services near you.
Make a list of companies that look like a good fit for your project, and make sure that they have the right equipment for the job, and that they are fully licensed, bonded and insured. Check their DOT permits with all state and federal agencies to ensure they’re operating legally.
3. Get A Quote For Your Heavy Equipment Shipment
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of transportation partners, you can get a quote for your job. Based on the type of machinery you’re moving, the distance, and a few other factors, you should be able to get a quick cost estimate for the job from each transportation company you’re interested in working with.
There are a number of different factors that may influence the overall cost of your job. These include, but are not limited to:
- Overall weight, size & dimensions – The bigger and heavier your equipment is, the more you’ll pay to transport it. Moving a skid loader or two, for example, will be much cheaper than moving a large earthmover or bulldozer.
- Oversized load – Oversized loads usually require special permits, pilot cars and escort vehicles, and specialized trucks and experienced drivers. For these reasons, you can expect to pay quite a bit more for an oversized load than you would for a standard load.
- Distance – Short trips are cheaper overall, compared to longer trips. However, you’ll actually pay more per mile for short trips, due to economies of scale. The longer your trip is, the higher your total price will be, even though you’ll be paying less per mile.
- Required arrival time – A rush job will always cost you more than a project with a more flexible time-frame. Need your equipment shipped in 3 days? You’ll pay a lot more than you would if you had 2 weeks to ship it. Do your best to plan ahead, and you’ll save quite a bit of money when shipping heavy equipment.
- Disassembly & reassembly – Depending on the machinery and your selected provider, they may offer disassembly & reassembly services for heavy equipment that must be moved in multiple shipments. This is very convenient, but does add to the overall cost.
- Enclosed vs. open transport – Open-air transport on the back of a truck bed is the cheapest and most common method for transporting heavy machinery. However, some companies are willing to use covers to cover up your equipment. Or, if your machinery is relatively small or can be disassembled for transport, you may be able to have it packed into a standard shipping container.
4. Choose The Company That Makes You The Best Overall Offer
It may be tempting to simply choose the transportation company that gives you the lowest quote – but we recommend looking at more than just the price when choosing your transportation partner. You should also consider:
- Experience & qualifications – Consider the company’s qualifications and overall level of experience. Have their drivers worked with equipment that’s similar to yours before? Do they know how to operate it during loading/unloading? What’s their history of delivery success? These factors can all be very important when choosing the right transportation company.
- Delivery guarantees – Always choose a transportation company that offers guaranteed delivery dates, and is willing to sign a contract that will compensate you if your delivery is late, delayed, or does not meet your guaranteed delivery criteria in any other way.
- Communication – Look for a company that is quick to respond to your questions and communicates well. You’ll want to stay in constant contact with your transportation company while your equipment is being moved – so great communication is key for a good experience.
Based on the quote and all of these above factors, you’ll be able to choose the transportation company that’s right for your needs and your budget.