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What Is Heavy Equipment Transport

Heavy equipment transport services require a transporter with a lot of experience in heavy haul. Unlike shipping standard LTL and FTL freight, heavy equipment transport requires special handling, oversize load permits, and special freight carriers. Additionally, heavy equipment shipping needs cartain specialized trailers in order to haul certain equipment items. These tractors, forklifts, and backhoes are big purchases, and you want to be sure they safely arrive. There are things you can do to make sure your heavy equipment shipment is smoothly and efficiently delivered. Find the right heavy haul specialist, make sure you have the right heavy equipment freight insurance, and choose the best trucking options for transporting your equipment.

Most equipment will need to be shipped on a flatbed or standard trailer, though in some cases it may be able to be towed. For larger or non-moving equipment, you will likely require a specialized trailer such as a step deck or a double drop deck. For international shipments, you can use a roll-on/roll-off service, or a flat-rack container.

Types of Heavy Equipment

  • Military Equipment
  • Commercial Equipment
  • Industrial Equipment
  • Aggregate Equipment
  • Batch Equipment
  • Construction Equipment
  • Mining Equipment
  • Oilfield Equipment
Excavators lined up

Flatbed Heavy Haul

For a majority of heavy equipment shipping needs, a simple flatbed should be sufficient. Flatbeds are available in a variety of sizes and capacities, allow for easy loading and unloading, and can carry up to 48,000 pounds. When choosing a flatbed hauler, confirm that that the truck will be able to handle the weight of your equipment and that you have the tools necessary to load and unload it.

Special Trailers for Heavy Haul Trucking

You may require a special trailer for oversized or very heavy equipment. Step deck and double drop trailers can allow for taller or heavier equipment to be loaded and transported. If your equipment warrants a specialty trailer, it’s highly likely that it will also require special permits. Consult with your transport provider so that necessary permits and special considerations are taken care of.

Towing Heavy Equipment

For short distance moves, towing may be an option for moving your equipment. Make sure that you know what needs to happen to safely tow your machinery, such as preparing the gearbox and tires for towing conditions. Specialty towing companies will be able to handle many types and sizes of equipment.

Shipping Overseas

When shipping your heavy equipment overseas you have a few options. The most common method for shipping heavy equipment is Roll-on/Roll-off (RO-RO). Your equipment is driven on and off the transport vessel via ramps. Another option is a flat rack container. A flat rack is similar to a flatbed truck. Your heavy equipment is placed on the flat rack, and then loaded onto the transport vessel. These racks can hold equipment up to 88,000 pounds. For some international shipments, it may be necessary to disassemble your equipment prior to shipping and then reassemble upon arrival. When shipping your equipment overseas, you will need to arrange transport to the warehouse or port where your equipment will leave from.

Equipment in a yard prepared to load on vessel

Preparing for Heavy Haul Transport

To be ready at pickup, speak to your transporter beforehand and make sure they have all the necessary permits for transport. Also, ask them how you can help prepare your equipment for transport. They will give you tips based on their experience and your specified shipment. For example, your transporter may advise you to bubble wrap fragile levers within the cab of a tractor or secure the doors of a crane shut with zip-ties. Talk with your provider ahead of time to work out any necessary permits.

There are a few steps you can take to prepare your equipment for shipping:

  • 1. Check the Manual: The manufacturer’s manual is the first step to getting your machinery ready. You may have the manual yourself, or you can look it up the manufacturer’s website. This manual may advise you to take certain measures, such as disconnecting batteries, emptying engine fluids, or securing loose parts.
  • 2. Obtain the Necessary Permits: The FMCSA has specific guidelines for securing and transporting heavy equipment. Oversized and overweight loads will require special permits to be transported on the road. Remember that large equipment loaded on a trailer may be too tall to go under power lines and bridges, or travel certain roads. You should work with the transporter before the pickup date to secure these permits, preventing delays or legal complications.
  • 3. Cover Vulnerable Parts: Remember that your equipment will be probably hauled in the open air, and will therefore be exposed to the elements. Cover any parts that will be vulnerable to rain and wind. In the winter months, prepare against damage to the tanks and lines due to cold and freezing temperature. You may also need to protect equipment against heat. Referencing the owner’s manual should provide guidance on protection.
  • 4. Be Prepared for Pickup and Drop-off: You will need an open area at the pickup and drop-off points to load and unload your equipment. There may also be added equipment necessary for loading and unloading, such as loading docks, ramps, or cranes.
Combine loading a tractor

Freight Insurance for Equipment Shipping

Licensed transporters are required to have a certain amount of liability and cargo insurance. This means that they should be able to cover any damage that occurs during the shipping process. The terms and amount of coverage can vary from company to company, and you should ask each transporter about their coverage.

The minimum required insurance will offer you some protection; however, you may find that it falls short of the true value of your equipment. Find out exactly what protection the provided insurance offers, as well as the terms for making a claim. Ask questions about what type of damage is covered and the limits of the insurance to confirm that you are adequately protected. Should you feel more insurance is necessary, ask the transporter if they offer the option of purchasing more. If not, you can usually find a third party to insure your equipment.

Heavy Equipment loads transported through uShip are eligible for uShip Cargo Insurance. When accepting a bid, you will have the option to purchase additional coverage. This policy is all-risk, covering approved goods against damage, lost or stolen claims, subject to the terms and exclusions of the policy. This is a great option for additional insurance for Heavy Equipment valued under $500,000.

The uShip Equipment Shipping Solution

uShip allows you to be in control. Create a shipment listing, detailing your equipment including brand, make, and model. Be prepared with the dimensions, including weight as well. Once you have submitted your listing, you’ll start receiving shipping quotes from transporters who specialize in moving heavy equipment. Talk to the service providers as they submit quotes for your review. Find out more about their experience with heavy haul through talking with them, and through their uShip carrier profile. There, you’ll find shipments they have completed through uShip as well as reviews and ratings from previous customers. Choose the best transporter at the best rate and you’re on your way to your heavy equipment delivery.

Get Free Equipment Shipping Rates

How to Choose a Heavy Haul Trucking Company

Heavy equipment hauling can be a difficult task and it is important to choose a company that specializes in the business. Whether you choose to work with a broker, shipping company, or owner-operator, you should always make sure to do some of your own research, and verify all credentials.

Searching for heavy equipment hauling companies that are right for you? uShip makes it easy to choose your equipment shipping company. Just check out the following:

  • Feedback on the Transporter uShip Profile: Your heavy equipment transporter's uShip profile will have extensive feedback on the carrier’s past performance. Look for customers who had used this carrier to transport similar shipments in the past. This will give you an idea of the level of service and safety that you can expect to receive, and should help you make a more informed decision.
  • Licensing and Reviews: Make sure that your transporter is licensed. Ask your transporter for their USDOT and MC numbers, listed on their uShip profile, and check the information listed on FMCSA SAFER. This step will provide you with useful information on the service provider, including their safety rating. You can also check with the Better Business Bureau. These steps will let you fully investigate the background of your transporter.
  • Delivery Time: The delivery time given by the transporter should also factor into your decision. An exceptionally long haul can mean that the transporter is making many transfers, which can lead to more wear and tear on your equipment. Shorter moves with fewer transfers lead to a safer move for your equipment. You should also be wary of moves that seem unusually short. In these cases, make sure to inquire about the transporters on-time delivery rate.
  • Insurance: Haulers are required to have a certain amount of insurance. Make sure you inquire about the insurance and the transporter claims-to-damage ratio, which should be below 1.5%. Should you need more coverage, your transporter may provide the option of purchasing more insurance, or you can acquire it through a third party. Vehicles transported through uShip are eligible for uShip Cargo Insurance. When accepting a bid, you will have the option to purchase additional coverage. This policy is all-risk covering approved goods against damage, lost or stolen claims subject to the terms and exclusions of the policy. Learn more about uShip Cargo Insurance here. This is a great option for additional insurance for Heavy Equipment valued under $500,000.

Make sure to ask your transporter any questions, and be ready to answer their questions. Providing information for the transporter will help them give you a more accurate estimate for your shipment and allow them to anticipate any special needs. The cost and time of the move can be influenced by many factors, including the working condition of the equipment, the availability of loading docks, ramps, or cranes, as well as any special precautions that are necessary. Answering these questions ahead of time can help ensure that you receive a complete estimate.

Excavator on site with trees behind it

How much does it cost to transport heavy equipment?

The cost to transport heavy equipment varies greatly based on the equipment being transported. The cost to ship heavy equipment longer distances, over 500 miles, averages $1.75 per mile, while shorter distance shipments average $5.00 per mile.

To get a better idea of what your heavy haul would cost, take a look at our cost to ship equipment page. There, you’ll find hundreds of heavy equipment shipments completed through the uShip marketplace and get a better idea of how we work.

Ritchie Brothers and uShip

uShip is proud to be a transportation partner for Ritchie Bros. auctions throughout the U.S. and Canada. If you've purchased heavy equipment at an auction, we can help you get it shipped to where you need it to go.

The Ritchie Bros. Shipping Center allows you to link your uShip and Ritchie Bros. accounts to easily manage the transport of your heavy equipment purchases all in one place. When your accounts are linked, you can import your Ritchie Bros. lot information to automatically upload accurate equipment specs to your listing. This way, you can start receiving heavy haul shipping quotes from our network of service providers in no time. Please note: Lot information may take up to 24 hours after each auction ends to appear in your shipping center. Here's how to get started:

  • 1. Make sure your email address is the same for both your uShip and Ritchie Bros. accounts.
  • 2. Select Settings > Tools > RB Shipping Center.
  • 3. Click Link My Accounts Now.
  • 4. Once your accounts are linked, the page will refresh, and you'll be able to view the equipment you've purchased
  • 5. Select the lots you need to transport to list your shipment

You can also link your accounts directly from the heavy equipment listing process on uShip. Remember to return to your Ritchie Bros. Shipping Center after each auction to easily list additional purchases for transport.

Equipment at a Ritchie Bros. Auction

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