Heavy Equipment Shipping

How To Select A Heavy Equipment Shipping Company


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From asphalt pavers to boom lifts, bulldozers, forklifts, and utility vehicles— these niche heavy equipment and machines require customized support with being transported, since you can’t simply drive them to your intended destination! 

Shipping heavy machinery can feel like a daunting task, but with the proper shipping company on your side, it becomes a methodical operation that is taken care of without any stress.  Keeping the complexity out of shipping heavy equipment moving requires a range of knowledge and this helpful guide will help you decide which company is your perfect match. 

What Is Considered “Heavy Equipment?”

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Heavy equipment is defined strictly by size and weight. Heavy equipment typically includes self-propelled, self-powered, or pull-type equipment and machinery, or  generators that weigh 5,000 pounds or more. Normally this type of equipment is used for construction, mining, industrial, and forestry industry but can include heavy buses and RVs, too.

Some examples include: 

  • Tractors
  • Skid steer loaders
  • Backhoe loaders
  • Feller bunchers
  • Harvesters
  • Scrapers
  • Articulated hauliers
  • Pavers
  • Drilling machines
  • Trenchers
  • Cranes
  • Cold planers
  • Draglines

It’s not enough to arrange for a standard carrier to transport heavy equipment from one place to another. Rather, you need trained heavy equipment shipment specialists that will ensure the heavy equipment arrives at the final destination safely.  Moving heavy equipment has many dangers associated, requiring individual policies, procedures, and practices in place for the job.

Top Tips For Picking The Right Shipping Company 

tractor shipping


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Heavy equipment can be transported almost anywhere with the right resources and shipping company.  The heavy equipment shipping company you choose needs to meet a specific set of criteria and have a reputable presence within the industry. It’s important to remember that the company that has the lowest price isn’t always the best! 

This blog will strive to educate you on the processes so you can feel empowered and prepared when making the best decision for you. 

  1. Broker or Carrier: Which is best? 

Let’s start by defining the two options: 

The Broker:

A reputable broker will step in as the ultimate organizer! From the initial consultation, they will be there to answer all of your questions and provide you with the all-important, transparent invoice. They will keep you in the loop at all stages of the shipping providing updated timelines, the route the driver will take, and ensuring you have a single point of contact to offer expert advice and support. They will see through the entire process until your heavy equipment arrives at the final destination. 

The broker is not the one driving the car. Rather, they garner their unbeatable industry knowledge and stellar connections to find you the best carrier for your specific time frame, route and budget. Think of a broker as an incredible teammate, that always has your back! This is exactly what ShipLux can do for you, as a reputable broker. 

The Carrier:

Oppositely, carriers own their own truck and/or fleet of trucks. After providing you with the cost and timelines, a carrier will then assign a specific driver from their team to pick up, inspect and load your vehicle and deliver it safely to its final destination.

Naturally, there are advantages to both broker and carrier! They are: 

Advantages of brokers: 

  • Expertise
  • Flexibility
  • Access to a network of Carriers 
  • Auxiliary Support and customer support 
  • Economical 

Disadvantages of brokers:  

  • Possibly of inattentive Agents in busy seasons 

Advantages of carriers: 

  • Single Point of Contact
  • Fewer changes in the delivery schedule 

Disadvantages of carriers: 

  • Hard to find due to limited marketing 
  • Limited services 
  • Sporadic Customer service 

Regardless of which route you decide to go with, it’s imperative that you ensure the company has an active, up-to-date authority with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The FMCSA is a governmental group responsible for regulating and providing safety oversight of commercial motor vehicles. To check the FMCSA status, you can use this free tool. 

  1. What are the company’s industry experience and expertise?

Transporting heavy equipment needs to be left to the professionals and it’s best to choose a seasoned company. Be sure you look into the company extensively to ensure they understand the necessary factors that are involved including the condition and safety of routes, any State restrictions on restrictions for heavy equipment and have all the required permits.  Only hire a licensed shipping company to transport your heavy goods.

 In some cases and States, regulations and limitations securing the right approval and permits can take several weeks and come with a substantial price tag. It’s important to work with a transportation provider who can properly plan, foresee and if possible work around any potential issues to avoid surprise costs and any undue stress later in the delivery process. This careful forethought and planning are incredibly important to reputable transportation providers. 

What are the options for shipping heavy equipment?

There are a number of different shipping options, including: 

  • Flatbeds:  Flatbed hauling is easily the most common method of shipping heavy equipment, and as such is a service that many brokers and carriers can offer. Flatbeds come in a large range of sizes and capacities, allow for smooth loading and unloading and have the capacity to carry up to a whopping 48,000 pounds while the height restrictions are limited to 8 ½ feet tall and 8 ½ feet wide. Flatbed trailers are ideal for transporting smaller pieces of heavy 
  • Towing: Towing should only be done for going short distances. If you opt for towing, ensure all measures are taken to care for your equipment such as preparing the gearbox and tires. 
  • Speciality trailers: For exceptionally heavy or oversized equipment, a special trailer will need to be called in! These include a step deck and double drop trailer for additional room and ease of loading and unloading. It’s important to note that these trailers tend to require special permits. 
  • Container shipping: If you are moving somewhere overseas (or to Hawaii) then container shipping is your best bet. This method involves loading and unloading the container onto a flat deck trailer. 
  • Lowboy Trailer Shipping: Lowboy trailers can typically support a maximum of 48,000 pounds and can be up to 10 feet tall since the deck steps down to allow more height, and as much as 8 ½ feet wide. 

A qualified transporter will explain the best method based on your measurements and specific heavy equipment. Be sure to confirm that the service provider has the ability to load and unload the equipment and if any special needs are taken care of such as cranes or ramps at the pickup and drop-off. 

Special needs extend to support vehicles, escort vehicles, or pilot cars that drive in front or behind trailers so the shipping goes smoothly and safely.  These vehicles are an important element and should never be overlooked as they help avoid accidents and damage. Many people think that it will be most cost-effective to avoid using them, but this is not wise as you may end up paying triple for any damage incurred! 

Circumstances that escort vehicles are needed include: 

  • If there is a long trailer bed, requiring an escort in the front and back
  • Cargo protection from damage, thieves, and accidents
  • To alert of any obstacles or dangers 
  • Help for navigating small spaces
  • To prevent accidents 

A strong company will also highlight the risks before proceeding with shipping your heavy equipment. Namely, cargo is most typically damaged during the loading process due to improper loading. In a time crunch, workers may try to speed up the process and/or improper equipment. A strong company will always work to prevent incidents before they occur by adequately identifying every resource required. 

  1. Advise You for Preparations

A reputable company is one that will offer you comprehensive advice on how to protect your heavy equipment. Some best practice advice they may provide is as follows: 

  • Remove any vulnerable, detachable parts (if applicable/required).
  • Disconnect batteries, alarm and drain any fluids before shipping tractors.
  • Clean your equipment as best as possible and do a safety check. It will be imperative to inform your company if there are any issues or damage
  • Let the shipping company know the loading details 
  • Obtain permits and any other necessary documents
  • Obtain the necessary insurance 

Always spend some time flipping through your equiptment’s service manual, as it offers invaluable  instructions for preparing heavy equipment for transportation.  While the shipping company will also know all the details, the manual will detail which components need to be tied down, how to secure moving parts and proper weights and measurements that will be useful during transportation. 

  1. Rely On And Read All Recent Reviews 

There is a lot to learn from previous customers’ experiences! Hone in on a company’s review to get an honest and up-to-date analysis of how the delivery and shipping process went for others in similar positions to you. Sometimes, companies even reply back to less than favorable reviews allowing you to get an idea of what their customer service is really like. 


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At ShipLux, we are logistic fanatics, excited to plan every single detail of your heavy equipment shipping experience from start to end! We pride ourselves in being transparent, professional and helpful. We know that after you do some light digging into our services, you will see that with ShipLux, all you have to do is tell us where your equipment needs to go and we will take care of the rest!  

Contact us today for a quote, we will provide you with an accurate breakdown of costs, and no hidden fees as well as discuss any concerns you have. 


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