Moving any type of equipment is a challenge, unlike any other shipment project. All equipment is typically high-value capital property, and experiencing problems along the way is something all shippers want to avoid for a variety of reasons.
There are several specific factors that must be considered in detail before embarking, such as the hauling distance, the most effective method of loading and unloading, and especially how to transport the gear in a cost-effective and safe manner. This includes safety concerns for the transporting crew and other motorists on the highway who could be affected in the event of any issue occurring while in transit.
While some companies may opt to use a railway option for transport, the most practical method of shipment is usually hauling the item or items on a flatbed trailer of some type that is best suited for the job. Getting the gear to the actual work site will be necessary anyway, and rarely do rail spurs run directly to a project location. Trucks are indeed the best selection with most projects. Here are a few things to evaluate thoroughly before beginning the movement.
1. Classify the Equipment
A primary concern with hauling equipment on the highways is state permits for the particular cargo. Height and width are important factors, along with weight. It is good to know the exact dimensions of the equipment and do a feasibility review regarding necessary permits and potential avoidance by taking a route through states that do not over-classify heavy equipment.
Doing some prior research can save shipping expenses while still being an effective and safe trip diagram. The height of the cargo can be especially important when going through towns with low underpass bridges, and many times this is information that is difficult to access. Sometimes alternate routes can be utilized with success, but maneuvering in close quarters on the road can still present problems. Always perform due diligence when going through small towns.
2. Avoid a Wide Load Designation
The ultimate goal in assessing equipment classification is avoiding a wide load designation by any of the states along the route. Interstate transportation projects are of particular note because the rules and regulations in each state can matter significantly. States can deny the use of certain roadways, require extra permits, and even require more insurance protection in some instances.
Reviewing dimension guidelines for each state along the transportation route is always an important part of the trip planning, and sometimes the wide load tag can be avoided. However, there is certain equipment requiring movement that will automatically be considered a wide load by all states, which means that sometimes this step can be skipped.
3. Map Out the Logistics
One of the first steps in shipping equipment of any size is diagramming the actual route you intend to take in the delivery process. While some routes may be shorter and lessen fuel requirements, sometimes trying to use as much open highway as possible is the best choice. This is especially true when it can provide significant lengths of straight highway.
Predetermining the route can save time as well as shipping cost, and shorter shipping time can also result in considerable savings. And always make sure your permits are validated, and the crew has copies of all documentation in the case of being stopped by any state Department of Transportation, highway patrol officers, or federal authorities.
4. Select the Best Trailer Available
There are several concerns when choosing the right trailer to haul any equipment of significant size and weight. Even gear that will fit handily on a traditional flatbed will need some attention, and many times a gooseneck or low boy trailer is more efficient. Companies that ship equipment on a regular basis may even want to purchase a trailer for regular use when they can locate a lowboy trailer for sale that fits their needs for specific equipment.
One of the primary advantages of using a lowboy trailer is the fact that they can be loaded by actually driving certain equipment right onto the platform, an option that is commonly not available when using a standard flatbed trailer. This can also be a vital option when unloading the equipment at the destination to begin usage.
5. Prepare the Equipment for Shipment
Shipping heavy equipment requires some attention to detail before even beginning the loading process. All equipment should be properly harnessed with sufficient booms and winches that will keep the item stationary while being transported. One of the greatest liabilities associated with the hauling of any equipment happens when loads shift while on the trailer and in transit. Use every harness point available and always make sure the booms are in good working order, including chain strength and length. Another issue that may be a concern is cleaning the machine before movement. Equipment used for a rugged operation will always get dirty, and many times cleaning the device is not done immediately after use. Detachable components can also be carried more effectively and safely in a container or on an escort truck that will be flagging when necessary.
6. Evaluate the Size of the Transport Crew
There is no such thing as having too many helpers when moving heavy equipment. Many times it is best to have both a front flagging vehicle with warning lights as well as a following flagging vehicle with the same. Red flags are also a good warning sign, and many states will require both front and back flags while the equipment is in motion on a state highway. It is always important to have adequate staffing when moving any equipment due to the unavoidable unknowns that may be encountered during the trip, and an extra flagging vehicle with an additional crew could be helpful.
These are just a few of the concerns any company manager will have when preparing to move heavy equipment. Moving big machines is indeed a unique shipping project that requires due diligence before even leaving the point of origin. Always remember the basic rule of safety is safety first, last, and always.