3 Dos and 3 Don’ts of Transporting Heavy Equipment

273 Views

You can order an expensive excavator, but it arrives at the job site completely damaged after a chaotic transport. If this happens, your project timeline gets delayed, your budget gets blown out of hand, and, worse, someone could have been injured. Sadly, this scenario plays out all too often, usually due to poor planning and a disregard for safety precautions.

Heavy equipment transportation presents a unique set of challenges. Cost overruns, unexpected delays, and the potential for serious accidents are just a few of the risks involved. And neglecting proper regulations can bring hefty fines, further straining your resources and reputation.

Nevertheless, a little foresight and adherence to the right practices can dramatically improve the process.

This article provides incredible strategies to streamline the transportation of your heavy equipment, ensuring safety and cost-effectiveness for your projects.

DOs

Transporting heavy equipment isn’t a task to be taken lightly. A successful and safe move is a result of thorough planning and careful execution. Below are some critical DOs:

  • Plan Thoroughly

Begin by precisely mapping out your route. Factor in obstacles like low bridges, narrow roads, construction zones, and weight restrictions. Consider alternative routes in case of unexpected road closures. Also, account for weather conditions, especially if transporting during adverse seasons. These factors could significantly impact road safety and your overall timeline.

Research and secure any necessary permits in good time. Requirements may vary depending on your jurisdiction, load dimensions, and route. Failure to obtain permits can result in hefty fines, delays, and potential project derailment. 

In essence, thorough planning and investigating all potential challenges minimizes surprises and sets you up for a smooth transportation process.

  • Prioritize Safety Throughout

Give priority to safety during every stage of heavy equipment transportation. Before loading, inspect your equipment thoroughly. Check for any mechanical problems, leaks, or damage that could create hazards during transport.

Ensure all your drivers are well-trained and possess the appropriate licenses and certifications. Truck drivers are particularly in high demand, with about 241,200 job openings each year in the U.S. alone. This doesn’t mean you pick undertrained applicants just to fill vacant positions. They should be extensively knowledgeable on load securement, vehicle handling, and relevant traffic regulations.

During loading and unloading, clear communication is essential. Use spotters to guide drivers and ensure a safe working area. Establish clear hand signals or use radios to maintain communication, especially in noisy environments. 

Backup cameras serve as an invaluable tool in enhancing safety during heavy equipment transportation. These provide drivers with a clear view of the area behind the vehicle, minimizing blind spots and reducing the risk of collisions during reversing maneuvers. Investing in this technology safeguards your equipment and personnel and demonstrates a commitment to the highest safety standards. Click here for trailer safety solutions to explore a range of backup camera options and other safety enhancements for your fleet.

  • Secure The Load

Securing your equipment promotes safety on the road. Invest in high-quality chains, binders, and straps designed to bear the weight of your load. This is especially necessary for flatbed truck transportation, which saw the highest increase (of 6%) among other truck loadings in 2021. Familiarize yourself with the designated tie-down points on your equipment, ensuring that you use them correctly to prevent accidental shifts in transit.

In this regard, having the right truck bodies is essential in promoting safety. It also enhances your vehicle’s performance. The good thing is that you can engage experts to customize your truck with reliable truck beds.

You must also consider weight distribution. Position the equipment’s center of gravity (CoG) on the trailer for optimal stability. If the CoG falls out of the truck’s bed or too close to the edge, the load can topple any time. Furthermore, check for even load distribution across the axles to prevent instability and potential accidents.

Finally, double-check every strap, chain, and binder. Ensure that everything is properly tightened and positioned. A few extra minutes of inspection can be the difference between a safe delivery and a disastrous outcome.

DON’Ts

It’s tempting to try to save money through shortcuts, but when it comes to heavy equipment transport, you can’t take chances. Cutting corners here could lead to severe consequences. Take note of the following DON’Ts:

  • Skimp on Equipment

Never attempt to transport heavy equipment with an undersized trailer. Doing this considerably increases the risk of accidents, equipment damage, and potential injuries. In a similar manner, avoid using worn-out or damaged securing devices like chains, straps, or binders. These could fail under stress, leading to the load shifting or even coming loose entirely.

Always ensure that the equipment you use matches the specific requirements of your load. Take into account the size, weight, and dimensions of the equipment you’re transporting. Investing in the right tools and resources upfront will save you from headaches, costly setbacks, and potentially devastating outcomes down the line.

  • Rush the Process

It’s normal to feel pressured by deadlines, but rushing through any stage of heavy equipment transportation is courting disaster. Take ample time to plan your route carefully, secure your load, and inspect everything thoroughly. Rushing can lead to mistakes, oversights, and increased safety risks.

Don’t cut corners to save time. The consequences often far outweigh any temporary time savings. For instance, skipping pre-trip inspections or haphazardly securing your load can result in equipment damage, delays, fines, or, even worse, accidents that could cause injuries.

  • Ignore Regulations

It isn’t prudent to assume that regulations don’t apply to your project. Rules regarding load sizes, transport times, signage, and permits vary from place to place. In the U.S., the general weight limits are 9.1 tons for single axles, 15.4 tons for tandem axles, and 36.3 tons for other axle groups. Familiarize yourself with the specific regulations that apply to your route and location.

Failure to comply with such laws may lead to hefty fines, project delays, and potential reputational damage. It might even result in the grounding of your equipment or suspension of operations.

Conclusion

Transporting heavy equipment demands careful planning, attention to detail, and adherence to safety protocols. The best practices and mistakes to avoid discussed above should help you transport your equipment in the safest and most convenient way.

For particularly complex or oversized loads, consider the expertise and resources of professional haulage companies. Also, invest in regular maintenance of transport vehicles and equipment to ensure their reliability and minimize downtime.  Following these best practices ultimately saves you time, money, and headaches in the long run.

 

Author Bio: Ethan Larson is a logistics expert with extensive experience in transporting heavy equipment. In his guide, he shares three dos and three don’ts for ensuring safe and efficient transportation. Through his practical advice, Ethan empowers businesses to handle heavy equipment with confidence and care. Outside of his logistics work, he enjoys hiking, woodworking, and attending industry conferences to stay updated on the latest trends.