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Heavy Equipment Transport: A Comprehensive Guide

Heavy equipment transport involves DOT rules, laws and regulations, and can require special permits.


Ask Truckload
November 6, 2019
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The idea of heavy equipment transport can be daunting regardless of your experience or the industry that you’re in. Whether it’s an oversized cargo load that you’re transporting across the United States or a large tractor that you need to move from one location to another, transporting heavy equipment can be incredibly complicated and requires a mastery of logistics. If you want to ensure that your heavy equipment is transported safely, you have to keep in mind factors such as insurance policies, transport services and heavy haul rates. After all, it’s not going to be cheap to move your heavy equipment.

To complicate things further, The Department of Transportation (DOT) has a number of laws, regulations, rules and limitations for oversize and heavy equipment transport. The maximum weight permitted when transporting heavy equipment can vary depending on the state, so if you’re planning on travelling across different states, it’s important to understand what your limitations are and how you can stay within regulations. You may also need special trucking permits for heavy equipment transport and the rules and laws can get convoluted without special assistance.

So to help you out, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to assist you in transporting your heavy equipment.

Looking for a solution for heavy or oversize freight? Leave heavy haul trucking to the experts at R+L Global Logistics.

What is Heavy Haul Trucking?What is Heavy Haul Trucking

Heavy haul truckload shipping typically involves an oversized load that is either heavier than the gross weight permitted by a standard US truck license or larger in dimension than a typical load. For example, if you’re transporting construction equipment that is a non-standard size and doesn’t fit on must truck beds, then you may need help from a heavy equipment transport service. In order to carry these heavier loads, you may need to dismantle your equipment and ship it in multiple parts or consider the additional training and licenses required to be legally allowed to transport over the weight limit of a standard truck license.

Heavy haul shipping also encompasses super load transport. This type of shipping is the mecca of heavy haul shipping. Super loads are heavy haul shipments that even futher exceed oversized shipping dimensions. These massive shipments (either in length, width, height, weight, or all of the above) require more resources than standard oversized loads. Multiple pilot/escort vehicles, law enforcement, and road closures are often involved. Drivers and heavy haul trucking companies that offer super load transport as a service must be knowledgeable and coordinated to handle these often complex jobs.

Understanding these state-specific regulations regarding weight is important to ensure that you’re not stopped when moving your heavy equipment across different states. In addition, careful planning is required in order to successfully haul your heavy equipment to its new destination especially if its dimensions or weight exceed what is typically allowed. Everything from the securing mechanism to the route taken by the driver has to be considered in order to avoid obstructions, difficult terrain or prohibited roads.

In some cases, an escort may be required to assist the heavy haul truck. Transport companies will typically dispatch escorts to guide the truck and offer assistance when it comes across a difficult obstacle. The escorts can also be used to halt traffic at certain locations when the heavy haul truck needs to maneuver through tight spaces. These escorts can also be provided by private agencies or even by the police if required.

USA Truckload Shipping, powered by R+L Global Logistics, is an expert when it comes to the transportation of heavy equipment. See how we can help your business move.

Heavy Haul RegulationsHeavy Haul Regulations

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA for short, is a division of the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) that regulates heavy haul restrictions. In particular, they set rules for the length, width and weight limits of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) for interstate commercial traffic. This means that it is generally limited to a network of interstate freeways, U.S. highways and state highways that are collectively known as the National Network (NN). Assuming the route of the truck remains on the NN, they will not be subject to any state limits which could potentially be lower than federal limits. They only come into effect for intrastate commercial traffic if the vehicle is not on the NN.

In terms of height limits, there are no federal regulations. States set their own limits which can range from 13 feet 6 inches (4.11 m) to 14 feet (4.3 m). As a result, most trucks are between these two heights to ensure that, regardless of the state the truck is traversing, it stays within the state-regulated height limits. However, certain height clearances such as bridges and tunnels need to be examined before the truck sets off onto the road. This is the responsibility of the heavy equipment transport company and its drivers.

Here are the federal gross weight limits for a Class 8 truck:

  • The gross weight (combining the truck, trailer and cargo) must not exceed 80,00 pounds (36,000 kg)
  • The axle weights are limited to 12,000 pounds (5,400 kg) for a steering axle and 34,000 pounds (15,000 kg) for tandem axles.

Truck drivers and heavy equipment transport specialists are responsible for checking the weight of their vehicles. This is usually done via a truck stop scale which may cost money to use. These large trucks may also be subject to federal and state laws that regard limitations on truck length. This is often measured from bumper to bumper and may vary from state to state. As a result, this is yet another consideration to keep in mind when travelling across multiple states.

As you can see, there are regulations for heavy hauling but they’re not difficult to understand and, assuming the driver or route stays on the National Network, they likely won’t apply at a state level. Regardless, it’s still important to understand these regulations so that your cargo won’t be stopped en-route to its destination. However, we understand that learning about these regulations can occasionally get difficult. As a result, we suggest contacting specialized heavy equipment transport company to help you not only make decisions regarding these services, but also ensure that you’re getting the best-quality assistance available.

Are you transporting heavy equipment in Texas? Learn the rules and regulations involved with heavy hauling in the Lone Star State.

Looking for a solution for heavy or oversize freight? Leave heavy haul trucking to the experts at R+L Global Logistics.

How Much Does it Cost to Transport Heavy Equipment?How Much Does it Cost to Transport Heavy Equipment

Transporting heavy equipment doesn’t come cheap. The specialized trailers use a lot of fuel to move and the difficulty of the haul can complicate matters, adding more expenses to the list. The distance can also increase the costs of transporting heavy equipment. Shorter distances may cost more money especially if it’s within cities that are troublesome to navigate. Longer distances may be cheaper especially if most of the route takes place on large and open roads. However, cross into different states may introduce additional costs that can also make things more expensive.

To make things a bit easier, here are the main factors that affect the cost of transporting heavy equipment:

  1. The size of the item may require specialized trailers or special licenses to move
  2. Heavy items are typically more difficult to move, increasing costs since it requires more fuel and specialized solutions
  3. Complex and unusual hauling requests, such as oddly-shaped machinery that doesn’t fit correctly in a normal truck, may require additional fees.
  4. The distance can affect the overall cost of transporting heavy equipment

The exact cost of transporting heavy equipment is difficult to calculate without more detailed information. For instance, if you plan to move a large piece of construction equipment across town then you may end up paying a lot of money due to the constant start-and-stop traffic inside a city. This would differ from transporting the same equipment over a longer distance in a rural area where there is typically more space for a larger vehicle on the road and no need to stop or wait in traffic. We suggest that you contact us as soon as possible so that we can offer you an accurate quote regarding your transportation needs.

Are you shipping paving equipment to a job site? See how R+L Global Logistics can help.

Looking for a solution for heavy or oversize freight? Leave heavy haul trucking to the experts at R+L Global Logistics.

Types of Heavy Haul TrailersTypes of Heavy Haul Trailers

When transporting heavy equipment, it’s vital that the right heavy haul trailer is used so that the item is secured correctly. Larger or heavier items can be troublesome to fit on a typical heavy haul trailer and you may require specialized vehicles especially if you’re loading and unloading vehicles for auto transport or oddly-shaped heavy equipment. There are many unique axles and trailer combinations available that will ensure that your heavy equipment arrives at its destination safely and in one piece. By failing to choose the right axle and trailer combination, your equipment could cause a serious accident on the road and it may become damaged, rendering it difficult to repair or essentially useless if it falls off the trailer.

There are seven different axle types that cover most potential use cases. They are numbered 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 13 and 19. Special axles can also be used for specialized pieces of equipment, but are typically only used by flexible hauling companies or in very specific use cases that are designed for uniquely-shaped equipment. The axle categories are separated by how many sets of wheels they have attached to the engine and trailer together. A general rule of thumb is that the higher your axle count, the more weight and larger items your truck can transport. When a high axle count is required, you’ll have fewer trailer configurations to choose from. However, you can rest assured that if you’re working with a reputable heavy equipment transport company, you’ll get plenty of excellent advice on the right heavy haul trailer to use for your needs.

Next, we’ll cover the most common trailer types.

  • Flatbeds - Flatbeds are the most common type of trailer that you’ll see. They provide a number of different options for attaching walls and tarps to help protect your heavy equipment and are flexible because they can be loaded from any side of the trailer. This makes it very easy to use regardless of your transportation needs.
  • Extendable flatbeds - An extendable flatbed is a trailer bed that can be extended via two long steel beams. This allows the trailer to offer various length requirements, but the maximum allowed weight on an extendable stretch trailer is typically lower than other heavy haul trailers.
  • Drop decks - Also known as a step-deck, this is essentially a flatbed with two tiers. These are most commonly used when the cargo you’re transporting doesn’t fit the state height regulations, thus requiring a trailer bed that is lower to the ground.
  • Double drop trailers - When transporting large materials that don’t fit within a trailer bed’s recommended height dimensions, a double drop trailer can be used to transport tall goods. The middle part is lowered and is known as the well. This is often the longest and most secure part of the trailer bed which secures the cargo.
  • Removable goosenecks - Otherwise known as an RGN, these allow the trailer to be lowered onto the ground. The has a ramp that can be used to drive vehicles onto the trailer bed itself, making it excellent for transporting large and heavy equipment that can be driven. They’re capable of hauling extremely heavy loads of up to 150,000 pounds (68,000 kg) and are very expensive. However, they’re the perfect solution for complicated jobs that require transporting several large pieces of equipment.

These specialized cargo haulers are essential for safely moving this valuable and sensitive freight. If you’re unsure what type of trailer you’ll need for your heavy equipment transport, R+L Global Logistics is available to help you. Based upon your specific shipping needs, we'll arrange for the proper specialized cargo hauler for your shipment.

Heavy Equipment Commonly Transported

When it comes to freight shipping, the term “heavy equipment” can mean a lot of different things and the services are generally used by a wide variety of different industries and businesses. However, the most common types of heavy equipment hauling usually involves mining, construction, agricultural and industrial industries. Construction and mining equipment, such as large vehicles, are easier to transport on a truck bed because it’s impractical to drive those vehicles long distances. They’re not fuel-efficient and are generally designed to drive short distances with most of the fuel being used to power the vehicle’s construction and mining-related features. You’ll also find that industrial equipment, such as large pre-assembled machines, are typically transported on large transport vehicles that are designed to manage heavy loads. It’s also common to find large trucks serving as auto transport, occasionally using two levels of trailer beds to accommodate carrying more vehicles on a single route.

Thanks to the many different types of trailer beds and trucks available, heavy equipment hauling can generally cover any potential use case. From commonly-transported equipment like vehicles to lesser-known equipment such as wind turbine blades, an experienced transport company can cover all the bases and offer you services and customer service that is tailored to your exact needs.

Looking for a solution for heavy or oversize freight? Leave heavy haul trucking to the experts at R+L Global Logistics.

When is a Pilot/Escort Vehicle Required?

Escort vehicles are typically used when a heavy transport vehicle such as a truck needs to navigate small or narrow roads which are regularly used by the general public. Pilot/escort vehicles serve as public safety vehicles that warn the public that a large and heavy transport vehicle is in the vicinity. Since the heavy loads are surprisingly fragile and could cause major damage to other vehicles if there is an auto accident, it’s essential to have pilot/escort vehicles that safeguard the cargo while also protecting other drivers on the highways and roads that the vehicle is travelling through.

In most cases, a pilot/escort vehicle is manned by drivers and staff from a transport company. However, police or private security firms can also be used. Some escort companies even have special authority for traffic control if approved by their state, making it much easier for these groups to navigate high-density traffic areas. A large transport vehicle with a heavy or abnormal load is typically escorted by two or more vehicles. One usually drives ahead to ensure that the roads are safe for the heavy transport vehicle, while another at the back ensures that there are no issues affecting the rear of the truck. This is more common when the transport vehicle has a long trailer bed. For certain heavy equipment being transported on roads with several lanes, an additional escort may flank the vehicle to provide extra peace of mind. Escort vehicles usually communicate with each other over radios to ensure that the entire convoy is alerted of any dangerous obstacles or issues that could affect their route.

So to recap, let’s take a look at when a pilot/escort vehicle is required:

  1. If the trailer bed is long and requires an escort at the front and back
  2. To protect the cargo from damage, thieves and auto accidents
  3. For alerting the transport vehicle of any upcoming obstacles or issues
  4. To warn other drivers that a large transport vehicle is near them
  5. To assist the transport vehicle in navigating tight or small spaces
  6. Preventing accidents from occurring that could result in major pile-ups on busy roads

If you’re unsure if you need a pilot/escort vehicle or not, feel free to contact us for more information about their uses and when it’s appropriate to rely on one to help secure your cargo.

Looking for a solution for heavy or oversize freight? Leave heavy haul trucking to the experts at R+L Global Logistics.

Transit Times When Transporting Heavy EquipmentTransit Times When Transporting Heavy Equipment

Transmit times can vary a lot depending on the type of cargo you want to transport, the urgency, the route and also the distance. For instance, loading up heavy equipment such as construction vehicles or cars from a dealership can take a long time. This is because the vehicles need to be secured in place and each one must be manually driven onto the trailer bed. This can take a long time to load up everything onto a heavy truck and it’s usually a good idea to add an extra day to the transport time if you have a lot of heavy or difficult equipment to load. On the contrary, if your cargo is relatively simple to load onto a trailer bed and you already have the equipment to do so, then it can be done within a few hours and this shouldn’t affect the overall transit time. In short, the main influences you can expect to impact the transit time are size, weight and distance.

A general rule of thumb is to expect around 500 miles driven per day. This means that if you want to transport something 1,500 miles away from your destination, you can expect it to take around 3-4 days in transit alone. This doesn’t include the loading and unloading of your cargo and it also doesn’t take added leeway into consideration. Things like closed roads or complicated paths could add extra time to your equipment transport time, and freak weather accidents could force your driver to slow down and stop. Having escorts may also slow down the transit time especially if security is a concern and you want to be as thorough and protective of your cargo as possible.

So to recap, here are the main factors that can change your transit time:

  • The hours of service that the driver is allowed to work
  • Speed limits on roads
  • Traffic congestion during busy times or in crowded areas
  • Adverse weather conditions that slow down transit time
  • Vehicle issues such as breakdowns
  • The weight of the cargo
  • Size of the cargo and its shape
  • Escorts if they are needed

Please keep in mind that these are estimated figures. The best way to get a more accurate transit time is to speak to us and request a quote for your heavy hauling needs. We’ll be able to provide a much more accurate quote once we know the exact distance and type of cargo that you’ll be moving.

Shipping Insurance When Transporting Heavy Equipment

All licensed heavy hauling companies are required to have some amount of liability and cargo insurance. After all, the last thing you want is for an incompetent driver to end up in an accident that damages your cargo and renders it useless. This is why shipping insurance is important since it can cover damage that occurs during the shipping process. It may also cover any mishandling during the loading and unloading of your cargo.

Here are some basic things to keep in mind when it comes to insurance and transporting heavy equipment.

  • Make sure that the company offers shipping insurance and take a closer look at the policies to see if and how you’ll be protected
  • Don’t hesitate to contact the insurance company offered by the transport company to ensure that it’s a legitimate service that has been described accurately
  • Make sure to value your cargo correctly so that you can be compensated correctly if your heavy equipment becomes damaged in transit
  • Before selecting a company that specializes in heavy hauls, make sure you do your research for extra peace of mind

The topic of insurance can be complicated, especially if you’ve never attempted to transport heavy equipment before. As a result, it’s never a bad idea to contact the shipping company directly to speak to them about insurance-related matters to make everything clear.

Looking for a solution for heavy or oversize freight? Leave heavy haul trucking to the experts at R+L Global Logistics.

Transporting Heavy Equipment InternationallyTransporting Heavy Equipment Internationally

We understand that you might have very specific or demanding needs from a transport company. In addition to just moving your heavy equipment across the country, you might want to transport it internationally to overseas clients or to start a new business location, such as a factory or commercial office. In a situation like this, you’ll want to hire the services of a specialist that is experienced in international heavy equipment transport. This can be incredibly costly, but it’s one of the most sensible and stress-free ways to transport large pieces of equipment overseas.

Here are some basics to help ensure that your overseas heavy equipment transport is successful.

  1. Make sure you pick an expert that is well-versed in international heavy equipment transport with the relevant credentials and a solid reputation
  2. Weigh and measure your machinery or equipment so that you can negotiate heavy haul trucking rates and stay within any weight or dimension limitations set by companies
  3. Understand the rules and regulations that govern international trade, or consider speaking to an expert that understands it well
  4. Calculate costs such as duties, taxes and tariffs if applicable to your heavy equipment transport needs

There are many different complications that get in the way of smooth overseas transportation service. With all of the additional costs and considerations involved, you may find it incredibly difficult to stay on top of everything. With all of the forms to fill out, questions to ask and details to understand, it’s certainly not something that you’ll use for small jobs due to the amount of investment required for an international heavy equipment move. Whether it’s something seemingly innocent such as construction equipment or large and heavy machinery designed to equip an overseas production facility, everything falls under the same scrutiny and must be examined thoroughly before it’s able to leave the country with no worries.

Choosing a Heavy Equipment Transport CompanyChoosing a Heavy Equipment Transport Company

Heavy equipment transport is certainly not a joke. It’s not something that you can simply hire from a random service and you’ll want to ensure that you have the best possible service in order to ensure that your items arrive safely and soundly. You’ll need to find a service that is reliable and trustworthy, so we’ve put together a few tips to help you pick the right heavy equipment transport company for your needs.

First, don’t be afraid to ask questions. When you’re dealing with a company that will be helping you move oversize loads and heavy machinery, you want to make sure that you trust them and asking questions is a great way for them to earn that trust. Whether it’s a question about their company mission or concerns over their insurance policies, make sure you speak up and ask plenty of questions so that you can learn more about the company and its staff.

Speaking of insurance, pick a company that offers you some kind of guarantee or compensation should they damage your cargo. In the event that something bad does happen, you’ll want to be able to claim expenses and compensation in order to continue operating your business with minimal concerns.

Next, make sure you write a list of services that you require and ensure that the company you’re speaking to can meet those needs. Perhaps you need to move an abnormally-shaped piece of cargo or maybe you’re looking for escorts to help protect your cargo. Whatever your needs are, speak to the company and ensure that they’re able to meet your requirements. They should provide you with a comprehensive package that deals with all your concerns and needs so that you don’t need to contact multiple shipping companies in order to successfully move your heavy equipment from one location to another.

Lastly, make sure you make a full list of all of the equipment and cargo that you plan to ship. Doing this will help ensure that nothing gets lost during transit. Should something be lost, you can claim compensation assuming that the company is insured. So to sum it up, here are the main things to focus on when picking a heavy equipment transportation company:

  • Focus on reputable services that are reliable and trustworthy
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions to get a better idea of the company and how they operate
  • Make sure they’re insured so you can claim compensation should your cargo be damaged in transit
  • Write a full list of services that you require and make sure a single company is able to meet all of your needs for a comprehensive service
  • Make a list of all of your equipment and cargo so that you can perform an inspection once it arrives at its destination. If there’s an issue with the cargo, you’ll notice the differences and should be able to claim compensation
Looking for a solution for heavy or oversize freight? Leave heavy haul trucking to the experts at R+L Global Logistics.

Need Help Shipping Heavy Equipment?

If you’re in need of heavy equipment shipping then don’t hesitate to contact R+L Global Logistics today. We’re confident that we can offer you an outstanding customer experience for all of your transport needs. Whether it’s an oddly-shaped piece of cargo or several construction vehicles that you need to move, we’re more than happy to help you.

Simply contact us today for more information about our heavy equipment transport services. You can request a quote if needed and we’d be happy to provide a good estimate for how much you can expect to pay for your needs and also give you a rough time frame of when we can complete the job by. If you have any specific requests, don't hesitate to let us know and we’ll see what we can do to accommodate your needs.

When you need help with heavy equipment transport, you need R+L Global Logistics. No matter whether you’re shipping for the Texas aerospace industry or need to know more about freight movement in Southern California, we have the expert services you need.  

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