How to Prepare Heavy Equipment for Transportation
Whether you’re on the farm or on the construction site, having the right equipment for the job is essential. In some cases, this means transporting equipment from one storage facility or job site to another. Transporting heavy equipment is an involved process that requires careful planning and execution.
There are a few necessary steps you should take to prepare your heavy equipment for the road, such as adhering to regulations, conducting inspections and securing the equipment.
1. Obtain the Necessary Permits
A top priority when you’re preparing to transport heavy equipment is to find out if there are any special hauling permits you might need. The federal government has set maximum limits for width and weight of loads on the highway, but it is up to states to determine how to handle issuing permits for loads that exceed the limits. Each state also has its own transportation regulations for heavy equipment.
You’ll likely have to pay a fee and follow certain rules to safely transport your heavy equipment from Point A to Point B without causing too much of an inconvenience to other people on the roadway. This may include only being allowed to make the trip during certain days and times, traveling with a pilot car or two and marking your oversize load with lights and flags.
Check with the department of transportation in the state where you plan to haul heavy equipment to see what sorts of designations your load will fall under. Before you check in with the state, take careful measurements and weigh the equipment, so that you have an idea of the type of permit you may need and can fill out the appropriate application. Be sure to apply for any necessary permits well before you plan to make the trip since it will take some time to obtain the permit.
2. See If You Can Avoid Oversize or Overweight Designations
If you’re concerned about the need for permits, you may be able to avoid them altogether. See if there is any way you can break down your equipment in order to stay within the standard limitations for height, width, length and weight. Even if you need to transport parts of your equipment separately, it may be worth it to avoid the fees and inconvenience of obtaining a permit.
If the equipment is overweight, then you may be able to reduce the weight by removing attachments and work tools. You can also remove tools and attachments to reduce the dimensions of your equipment. In fact, some states require you to remove attachments like buckets or scoops before transporting equipment. You can also lower the overall height by using a drop-deck or step-deck trailer, or if that isn’t low enough, a lowboy trailer.
When it comes to avoiding a wide load designation, there’s typically not much you can do. Many types of heavy equipment fit within width regulations, but larger machines such as cranes, excavators, graders, dozers and more can extend beyond the 8.5-foot width standard. You may be able to remove tires or tracks to reduce the width, but in these cases, you’re typically better off getting whatever permits you need for a wide load.
3. Check the Manufacturer’s Securement Recommendations
Before transporting heavy equipment, you should always consult the manual that came with your equipment to see if the manufacturer has offered any recommendations for transport. These recommendations may go beyond mere advice. In some cases, ignoring the manufacturer’s guidelines on how to secure heavy equipment could void your warranty for the equipment.
When it comes to securing the equipment, the manufacturer has likely designated specific points on the equipment to attach tie-downs. Whenever possible, use these designated attachment points to transport the machinery safely.
The manufacturer may weigh in on more than securement in the manual. They can also list important preparation measures, such as disconnecting the battery, draining any fluids or covering certain parts. The manufacturer knows their equipment best, so carefully follow their recommendations, regardless of whether the warranty is at stake.
4. Inspect the Equipment
It’s smart to inspect your equipment before transporting it in case there are any problems which could be safety concerns. Your inspection should ensure that the equipment is in good overall condition and, more specifically, that securement points aren’t compromised.
You should also check the tire pressure on any vehicles that have rubber tires rather than tracks. If the pressure is too low, this could make it more difficult to safely secure the vehicle.
Finally, ensure the vehicle is clean enough that dirt or debris won’t get in the way of necessary friction or fall off of the equipment as it moves down the highway. It’s common for farm equipment and construction equipment to be caked with large clumps of dirt and mud, so cleaning is often a necessary step before moving equipment.
5. Inspect the Trailer
Inspecting the trailer that will hold the equipment is just as important as inspecting the equipment to be hauled, if not more. One of the most important things to check is the trailer’s anchor points. The anchor points should be solid and free of any signs of damage that indicates they may not hold up during the transport process.
You also want to make sure the trailer is clean. A layer of oily residue, dirt or debris of any kind can reduce the traction you need to move equipment onto the trailer and hold it there securely. If the trailer is wet, iced over or covered in snow, this can also create a slick surface, so be sure the trailer is not only clean but dry, as well.
You should also ensure the trailer is sitting level before you load your machinery onto it. Any issues of tilting could be exaggerated once you add weight onto the trailer, which can be dangerous. Finally, you should also inspect any equipment you’re using to secure your equipment, such as straps, chains and binders. Make sure this equipment is all in excellent shape and rated to handle your load.
6. Thoroughly Secure the Equipment
Heavy machinery securement is one of the most critical aspects of preparing construction equipment for transport. Be sure to follow any requirements set out by your equipment’s manufacturer and your state when it comes to securing your equipment. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) specifies that all attachments should be lowered and secured and that the parking brake on the equipment be set.
They also specify that you must use at least four tie-downs to secure the equipment in order to prevent it from moving in any direction. Each of these tie-downs must have a minimum working load limit (WLL) of 5,000 lb. It’s also important to note that the total WLL of all tie-downs put together should add up to at least half of the cargo’s weight, which means you’ll need to add some additional tie-downs for heavier equipment. The tie-downs should be attached at designated mounting points or at the front and rear.
There are many types of tie-downs to choose from, but it’s best to use chains when possible. It’s one of the best ways to secure your equipment. Steel strapping is another strong option to consider. In addition to tie-downs, you may need to add other securement measures like edge protection, friction devices or, in the case of vehicles with wheels, wedges or chocks.
7. Cover and Secure Vulnerable Parts
In addition to securing the vehicle as a whole, you’ll also want to secure any loose parts that could move around or be damaged during transport. For example, it’s a good idea to wrap up levers and latch or zip-tie doors shut.
You’ll also want to cover any parts that shouldn’t be subject to the elements during transport — especially if there is a chance of precipitation. This includes covering the smokestack on the vehicle, for example. Every piece of equipment is different, so make sure you pay careful attention to what parts may need to be covered and secured in each case.
Once the machinery and its various parts are secured, conduct one final inspection to make sure the vehicle is ready for transport. You can never be too cautious when hauling heavy equipment since it only takes one point of weakness to create a safety hazard or damage your equipment.
8. Verify Your Route
Transporting construction equipment should go smoothly if you have everything in order ahead of time. One thing to plan in advance is your route. When you’re heading somewhere in your car, you may rely on a GPS or your own memory to get you there, but you need to take some extra steps when planning your route for the transport of heavy cargo.
You can start with the most efficient route from Point A to Point B and then analyze the route to make sure it won’t include any heavy traffic areas, construction zones, roads that are too narrow or older bridges or overpasses that are too low to provide enough clearance.
Some issues that can arise are impossible to plan ahead for, such as wrecks that block the roadway. If you’re worried about this scenario, have a pilot car stay far enough ahead of the trailer to identify any potential problems along the way. The driver of the trailer can reroute if needed.
9. Plan Ahead for Unloading
You don’t want to get to your destination and then try to figure out how to unload the equipment. To make the process as smooth as possible, plan ahead for unloading.
Determine what people and equipment you’ll need to get the vehicle unloaded from the trailer. Be sure to allow plenty of time to unload the equipment carefully, unwrap loose parts, reattach accessories and do whatever else needs to be done before the equipment is ready for use.
Also, note the exact location where the driver of the trailer should park and communicate this to the driver. Make sure the parking area is stable and level since sloped ground can cause the machinery to fall off during unloading. One long-term study found that equipment overturning was the main cause of fatal accidents during loading and unloading heavy equipment.
10. Depend on an Experienced Heavy Equipment Hauler
You may be surprised by how much goes into preparing heavy equipment for transport. Because it is such an involved process, you want to make sure you only work with trustworthy, reliable freight transportation services. Just because someone owns a trailer that can fit your equipment, that doesn’t necessarily mean they have the necessary expertise for construction equipment shipping.
Look for a company that is licensed, bonded and insured and who has plenty of experience hauling heavy machinery. It should also have the right trailers for all your hauling needs, whether it’s a standard flatbed trailer, a drop deck, a slide-axle tilt step deck, a removable gooseneck lowboy or a rollback tilt-bed truck.
The right heavy equipment transport solution may not be the closest company or the first one you find in your search. Do your due diligence to make sure you partner with a company you can count on to help you safely load and transport your heavy equipment from job site to job site.
Heavy Equipment Hauling From Equip Trucking
If you operate in the Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware or New Jersey area and you’re looking for the right partner to haul your heavy equipment, consider Equip Trucking. We have over three decades of experience in the industry and have developed a wealth of expertise in the safest and most efficient ways to transport your equipment.
No matter what type or size of the heavy equipment you need to move, we can handle the job. Our extensive fleet of heavy haulers and trailers means we can match your machinery to the best transport vehicle every time.
Equip Trucking knows how to keep your equipment secure, and we’ll go the extra mile to ensure keep any vulnerable parts safe and clean by wrapping and covering these parts. Our drivers can also be trusted to operate with the utmost level of caution and care in order to ensure your equipment makes it safely to its destination.
In addition to heavy equipment hauling, Equip Trucking also offers safe and secure storage services if you need a place to keep your heavy equipment when it’s not in use. Our 24/7 security and video surveillance, along with a clean, temperature-controlled environment make our storage facilities the perfect place to safely store your equipment.
Contact us to learn more about how we can help meet your needs for heavy equipment transportation, storage and more.