Heavy Machinery Shipping: All You Need to Know

Heavy Machinery Shipping: All You Need to Know

With the right carrier, it’s possible to ship machinery parts all over the world. Of course, it’s not as simple as couriering a parcel and does require specialized knowledge. This gets even more complicated if you need to ship machinery parts across the U.S. border.

In most cases, successfully shipping machines takes an experienced person or freight company. From understanding different transport modes to preparing machines, and more, here’s a brief guide on how to ship equipment.

Different Ways of Machinery Shipping

Before deciding on a transport mode, you’ll need to determine the freight class of your machinery because this influences available shipping options. The National Motor Freight Classification calculates freight class according to:

  • Density: The weight of equipment in relation to the size
  • Storability: The ease at which equipment can be stored.
  • Handling: The ease at which equipment can be handled.
  • Liability: The equipment’s degree of fragility.

Heavy machinery can be shipped by maritime, rail, air, and over the road. Regardless of which mode you choose, you’ll probably require interconnecting heavy haul trucking to ship machinery parts to air and seaports.

  • Ocean shipping: As the backbone of world trade, maritime shipping accounts for 80% of all goods shipped by sea. Compared to air shipping, ships can transport heavy loads across the globe for a fraction of the cost. However, this mode is not ideal if you require speedy delivery, as transit time can range anywhere from 20-45 days or more.
  • Air shipping: When it comes to scheduling, air freight is the most reliable shipping mode due to the frequency of available flights. It’s open to all regions, irrespective of land interference, and has a high degree of security since airport safety regulations are strictly enforced. The only downside is the high price and weight capacity limitations.
  • Rail shipping: Shipping by train is relatively reliable, efficient, and more environmentally friendly. Railroads are less susceptible to traffic delays on road networks and least affected by weather conditions. Although, despite its many advantages and lower cost, it is slower than truck and air freight, often requiring multiple transfers throughout the shipment process.  
  • Truck shipping: According to the American Trucking Association, 72% of the nation’s freight travels by road. Trucking offers bulk, TL, and LTL transport, providing greater versatility. Another unmatched benefit is door-to-door service delivering freight to its final destination. Road transport is best for shipping machines to and from remote areas not connected by rail, air, or water transport.

Machinery Shipping Preparation: The Main Steps

Whether it's a turbine, bulldozer, or excavator, shipping machines can be complex. As logistics and transport experts, we’d recommend the following:

1. Gather Accurate Information

Understanding heavy machinery shipping details will help you select the right mode, freight carrier, accurate pricing, and avoid unwanted charges and fees due to careless guesstimating.

If you provide a shipper with incorrect measurements, they may re-weigh and re-classify your freight and bill you for this service. You’ll be doing yourself and your chosen carrier a massive administrative favor by understanding and preparing everything properly beforehand.

2. Proper Packing and Protection

Step-deck trucking, for example, won’t necessarily protect your freight from bad weather, so proper packing is vital for safe transit. While most heavy machinery shipping can be done with crates, some machines and equipment require special packaging like anti-corrosion protectors or Conestoga trailers.

It’s the shipper’s responsibility to assemble crates, pack machinery to be shipped, and prepare packaging labels and shipping instructions. It’s not unheard of for a carrier to refuse to ship incorrectly packed freight. So, if you’re unsure, check what your carrier’s specifications are.

3. Insurance the Machinery

Whether shipping insurance is worth the cost depends entirely on your shipping volume and the value of your heavy machinery. While reputable carriers have liability insurance, this doesn’t always cover damage, loss, or theft of your freight. It’s highly advisable to insure your goods. Should something happen to them, the insurance will pay out the full value.

4. Find the Right Shipping Partner

Always work with a reputable and experienced shipping company that is familiar with handling your type of equipment. It’s best to choose a seasoned company with a strong network of reliable carriers who offer a range of solutions at competitive prices. Be wary of going for the cheapest option, as cutting corners may lead to damaged freight and shipping delays.

Important Things to Consider

Machinery delivery

Through adequate preparation, you can improve shipping costs and the freight shipping process in general.


Make sure all shipping paperwork is ready. Some shipping companies handle permits on behalf of their clients, in which case, find out what documents you need to provide.

Consult the Manual

Check the owner’s manual or consult the manufacturing company to determine the correct method of dismantling your machinery, if that is even required. For instance, most will advise leaving engines upside down overnight to get rid of oil and the removal of all batteries.

Package Parts

Be sure to label all parts before shipping and to make note of them in an inventory, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the machine. This makes reassembling much easier after machinery delivery.


If you or your business lack the resources to transport heavy machinery safely, hiring a professional freight trucking may be the best solution for you. At our freight shipping company, we gather the proper documentation, ensure correct loading, and work with highly trained drivers.

Whether it’s an oversized machine or a large volume shipment, we have the experience and resources to complete the job. Our fleet of heavy haulers includes flatbeds, drop decks, step decks, and other specialized trailers to fit your heavy machinery shipping needs. Contact us for a free heavy equipment shipping quote.

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