Machinery Shipping: Everything You Need to Know

Published on
Nov 8, 2018
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According to the American Trucking Associations, in 2016, trucking revenues were $676.2 billion. That number represented more than 10 billion tons of freight moved all across the country. Since then, the shipping industry has only continued to grow as the demand for such services has remained high. Of these billions of tons of transported freight, a notable percentage could be considered heavy machinery. As one might imagine, machinery shipping is, quite literally, a massive undertaking. Hefty objects such as bulldozers, engines, farm equipment, tractors, forklifts, cranes, industrial tools, construction machinery, wind turbines, and used or broken machinery all require specialized knowledge, equipment, and attention to haul them across town. It becomes even more difficult when this heavy machinery requires shipping services across the country or overseas. Understandably, there are many people out there who are daunted by the prospect of having to move some large piece of machinery, especially if such a task is not a regular necessity. In most cases, moving oversized equipment is a task too big to be done alone, and more often than not, it requires a machinery shipping company that specializes in moving freight. Machinery shipping companies will have modern shipping tech purposefully made for hauling heavy or oversized machinery. Make no mistake, it is a dangerous and challenging job that requires caution for the duration of the delivery since one mistake, such as an improperly loaded or secured machine or a loose piece of equipment, could lead to cargo damage or possibly endanger the driver and anyone else on the road. As a result, it can be an expensive service, so it is wise that you are well informed and know everything you need to know about machinery shipping.

Creating the machinery shipment listing

The Initial step for shipping heavy machinery is to create a shipment listing. A listing will answer various questions that help the heavy machinery shipping company determine what type of transport you require or if there are extraordinary services needed to accommodate a particular piece of heavy machinery. By giving these details, a heavy shipping company can give you more fair and accurate shipping quotes. In most cases, you will need to input:

  • The density of the item
  • The make of the heavy machinery
  • The model of the heavy machinery
  • How many items require shipping
  • Whether they are already on a trailer (If no) Whether you have a trailer preference
  • Pictures of the heavy machinery
  • Any additional details about the item being shipped
  • Pick up date, time, and location
  • Expected delivery date and location

Finding the density of your heavy machinery

Measured as pounds per cubic foot, density represents how much space and weight your machinery takes up and is the most crucial factor for determining your shipping rates. Due to their size and irregular shape, the vast majority of heavy machinery’s density is calculated by its total maximum size, as if it were being stored in a huge shipping crate. To find the density of the total maximum size, you must take three steps:

  1. Begin by measuring the length, width, and height of the object. Multiply these factors to get the shipment’s volume in cubic inches. If there are more items, repeat the process, then add them up.
  2. Divide the volume by 1,728, which is the number of cubic inches in a cubic foot.
  3. Divide the weight (lbs.) by total cubic feet. This number in pounds per cubic foot will be your machinery’s density.

The density of your shipment will give heavy machinery shipping companies a good idea of how much space and weight your object will occupy and whether they will need to prepare special accommodations for a unique object. It is worth noting that some heavy machinery might still be too large or difficult to transport whole for a shipping company and could require disassembling before transport.

Things to think about when selecting a heavy machine shipping company

There are a variety of smaller factors to consider when getting heavy machinery ready to ship. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is covered under my transporters insurance? How does that freight insurance protect me? What does it not cover?
  • What is my carrier’s reputation with customers, and do they have a history of transporting specialty items?
  • Do I have the correct list of equipment shipped with the proper dimensions, density, and other measurements?
  • Do I need a permit to ship these items?
  • Is there special equipment needed to load and unload the heavy items? Can it be driven or lifted on? Does it need a crane?

Preparing a shipment

There are four critical steps you can take to prepare your heavy machinery for shipping.Step 1: Get all required permits – Read into the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s guidelines for securing and transporting heavy machinery. Oversized loads such as wind turbines or road graders may need a special permit for transport. Even then, some equipment may still be too tall for certain routes and cannot pass beneath bridges and power lines. By securing your permits early, you prevent unneeded delays and avoid liability issues.Step 2: Read the manual - The manual from the manufacturer should have sections on preparing such equipment for shipment. You may need to disconnect batteries, secure loose parts, or disassemble pieces. Step 3: Cover exposed parts – Your shipment will likely be hauled in the open, which means it will be open to the elements along the journey. If you fear rain, dirt, wind, snow, heat, or cold, you may need to have specialized protection to prevent damage from overheat, freezing, or rust.Step 4: Be Ready for both Pickup and Drop-off – Have an area with plenty of room designated for loading and unloading. Have any necessary equipment that is needed for loading or unloading.


Without a doubt, shipping heavy machinery is a big task, but one that you should not fear. Heavy machinery shipping companies have knowledge and equipment at their disposal that can help make your heavy shipments effortless.