Total Connection Blog

A Complete Guide To Heavy Machinery Shipping


Shipping heavy machinery can be a tedious task at first glance. But thanks to hundreds of years of experience and technology, humans have mastered the delicate art of shipping complicated freight. 

This article is only a result of the mastery that we have gained. And we only hope to use this piece to guide you in the steps you should take to ship your heavy machinery internationally or domestically.

Prepare The Heavy Machinery for Transport

The first step in shipping heavy machinery, especially from your place, is preparing the machinery for transport. This step becomes even more critical if you will ship the freight in the open air. 

Without proper preparation, you risk causing unnecessary damages to the freight that may reduce the effectiveness and efficiency of the machinery during use. Common steps to take to prepare your heavy machinery for shipping include:

  • Always refer to the owner’s manual of the machinery to find out the manufacturer’s packaging preferences for the machinery (if it can be packaged). This alone can eliminate guesswork and help to ensure that the freight is adequately prepared for transport.
  • Secure any loose or dangling part. You don’t want the dangling piece of a heavy equipment to swing into an oncoming vehicle or hit anyone. Apart from the fact that it could lead to severe injuries, the part could also get damaged.
  • Drain all fluid and fuel because friction while trying to load or unload the machinery could cause tiny little sparks to fly off. And even the tiniest sparks can cause a fire.
  • Cover areas exposed to open air from the elements, as the weather can cause the degradation of the machinery material.
  • Finally, it is essential to disconnect all alarm systems and batteries from the machinery

Transport Options for Shipping Heavy Machinery

After you’ve prepared your machinery for transport, the next set of things to pay attention to are your transport options. 

There are four major transport options for shipping heavy machinery depending on the freight. 

  1. RoRo (Roll-on/Roll-off)

The transport option is reserved for those pieces of machinery that have wheels or treads and can simply be wheeled onto and off the ship without the need for a container. 

While RoRo shipping is straightforward, they often take up a lot of space around them. For instance, containers can be placed side by side and stacked on one another on a ship. On the other hand, wheeled equipment require space on the sides, and stacking freight steadily on them can be pretty tricky. 

  1. LiLo (Lift-on/Lift -off)

This is a transport alternative for loading and unloading heavy machinery using cranes to lift the cargo. 

LiLo shipping is also straightforward but can be costly. You first need to pay for a big enough crane to lift your cargo. Then you need a trainer crew to operate the crane. These two come at their costs.

  1. Flat rack

The flat rack is an alternative for machinery that can’t be transported using RoRo shipping. The freight is placed on a flat rack, which can take up to 90,000 pounds of weight. 

However, flat racks have limited sizes, which can be a problem for oversize machinery that you can’t disassemble. 

Another downside is that flat racks leave your cargo unprotected from the elements.

  1. Container

If the heavy machinery is not too big, containers can be a great transport option. You may also resort to container shipping if your machinery can be disassembled into smaller pieces.

The potential disadvantage of disassembling your machinery to make them fit into a container is that the disassembling may require a lot of time and labor. Time and labor cost money.

Cost of Heavy Machinery Shipping

There’s no fixed price for shipping heavy machinery. The cost of shipping your heavy machinery depends on four major factors:

  1. Weight and size

The weight and size of your heavy machinery not only determine how much you’ll be charged, but they also contribute to how your cargo will be shipped.

  1. Priority

How urgently you need your heavy machinery shipped also contributes to your shipping costs. You may need to hire third-party logistics providers and specifically require that your shipment take priority. Of course, this would cost you some extra cash.

Unless in rare cases, you can avoid priority shipping if you manage your supply chain well. The proper management of your supply chain involves anticipating when you’ll need the equipment and preparing to transport it long before it is needed. 

  1. Insurance

The insurance coverage on the transportation of heavy machinery is another factor that pulls its weight in how much the shipping costs. 

Insurance keeps you protected from loss if any damage happens to your machinery during transit. And when a heavy machinery freight is in transit, it is most vulnerable to damage. 

Although insurance is not always compulsory, it is very much necessary. And we recommend that you always have your cargo insured because you may need your insurance papers for customs clearance.

  1. Destination

The destination also plays a part in the cost of shipping your heavy machinery through expenses, such as tariffs, tolls, and licensing fees. The route taken to get to the destination may also attract extra costs.

Customs and Documentation

The next step in shipping heavy machinery, if it’s moving across borders, is to prepare for customs checks and have proper documentation. 

Countries often have unique regulations that guide how cargos that come into their borders are handled and cleared. While you may not know about ‌all of these reputations, a competent logistics company that plies your destination should know. 

You can prepare all the documents that your heavy machinery may require to quickly get cleared at the customs. Some of these documents may include insurance papers and bills of sale.

Also, prepare your pocket for several clearing fees during custom checks. 

Trusting Total Connection With Your Heavy Machinery Shipping

Heavy machinery shipping comes with a lot of complications. Only reputable logistics companies can handle the shipping of these freights smoothly and without extra complications. And that is what we do here at Total Connection Logistics.

Total Connection is a third-party logistics service that handles every kind of heavy and bulk freight shipping. We have over two decades of experience in the business and hundreds of happy customers to show for it. Check out our case studies to see our proven track record.

Some common heavy machinery that we ship are: 

  • Agricultural Equipment
  • Continuous Miners
  • Cranes
  • Dump Trucks
  • Excavators
  • Large Parts
  • Mining Equipment
  • Motor Graders
  • Scientific Equipment
  • Stone Cutters
  • Stone Trenchers

But if your heavy machinery is not on that list, we can always work things around for you at no extra cost. 

You too can join hundreds of clients who have entrusted us with shipping their heavy machinery from anywhere to anywhere. They have excellent reports about us, and we’re sure you will too. 

Contact us through the brief quote form below to start the conversation. Our experts are waiting on the other side to reply to you ASAP.


FMC LIC: 026203NF | MC: 280101

11 Main Street
Holmdel, NJ 07733 USA
+1 732-817-0401

Urgent Quote Form

Fill out the below form and we
will get back to you in a few minutes.