Heavy Hauling Trucking
Everything You Need to Know About Hauling Heavy Equipment
In 2020, American trucks transported 10.23 billion tons of freight. Those shipments accounted for 80.4% of all gross freight revenues in the United States that year. More than any other transportation service, cargo truckers are responsible for getting heavy loads where they need to go. That’s good news for anyone who needs resources for hauling heavy equipment—whether that’s construction site managers, manufacturers, or even state highway departments.
But what exactly can business leaders expect from heavy equipment shipping services? Read on to learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about hauling heavy equipment.
What Kinds of Heavy Equipment Can Transportation Companies Haul?
Truck-based transportation companies can haul a wide variety of heavy equipment and machinery. What kinds of cargo a given truck can haul depends on its trailer.
A flatbed trailer is the most typical, open trailer. The average flatbed trailer can carry about 48,000 pounds worth of cargo. But, some trailers can handle much heavier loads. A standard flatbed trailer can handle ten cubic yards of concrete, which weighs roughly 40,000 lbs. It can also transport an industrial steamroller, which can weigh up to 44,000 lbs.
Step Deck Trailer
A step deck trailer can handle larger loads than a standard flatbed. This is because it has two levels. The higher level is close to the truck’s cab, and lower level is near the rear.
This lets the trailer easily handle awkwardly-shaped equipment. It’s well suited to haul a standard backhoe. Backhoes generally weigh around 15,000 lbs.
Drop deck trailers are a type of step deck trailer. They give truckers an extra 41″ of height for the cargo. The lowest platform of the trailer is below axle-height.
Placing heavy loads low to the ground enables a safer weight distribution.
Some truckers call double drop trailers “lowboys.” A double drop trailer has a longer low bed than a typical step deck.
Typically, its lowest point is only two feet off the ground. In contrast, a typical step deck is 3’4″ off the ground at its lowest point. Transport services often use double drop trailers to haul industrial equipment, like bulldozers. Most double drop trailers have a weight limit of 40,000 lbs.
Tandem Axel Deckover Trailer
Some transporters call tandem axel deckover trailers “tagalong trailers.” These versatile flatbeds can handle heavier loads because they spread the weight across multiple axels.
Truckers typically load tagalong trailers with forklifts. They’re often used to transport tractors and other farm equipment.
A tilt trailer is a flat, balanced trailer that tilts towards the ground in response to weight. When tilted, the handle makes it easy to load equipment by simply rolling it up. The tilt trailer becomes horizontal when the cargo is perfectly balanced on either side. Tilt trailers are not the strongest option. Heavy-duty tilt trailers typically have a maximum weight capacity of 10,000-14,000lbs. Fortunately, these trailers can still easily carry manufacturing equipment, like a bridge mill. Tilt trailers are also well-suited to hauling skid steers.
Is There a Weight Limit for Hauling Heavy Equipment?
Yes, there are weight limits inherent to heavy equipment hauling.
In practice, the weight limit varies by trailer type and truck. But, there are specific weight limits imposed by law. In the United States, these laws vary from state to state. Ohio is a fairly typical example. In Ohio, the weight limit for a long tandem truck is 50,000 lbs. A single axel truck cannot carry more than 29,000 lbs. That said, trucks are legally allowed to carry “overweight” or “oversize loads”. They just need a special permit, and they must abide by additional regulations.
Super loads are particularly high-risk types of cargo. They weigh over 180,000 lbs. Or, they’re over 16′ wide or 150′ long. It is much more challenging for a cargo-hauling service to get a superload permit than it is to get an oversize load permit. If at all possible, break a super load up into smaller loads. That said, premium transport services can make the logistical considerations, and pass the state review process, to obtain a super load permit.
How Long of a Distance Can You Move Heavy Equipment?
Truck-based transportation services can transport your cargo as far as you need within the United States and Canada. The equipment’s weight and bulk, and your pick-up and drop-off points, impact the cost of your shipment. But there is no maximum mileage for heavy equipment transportation.
What Are the Risks of Hauling Heavy Equipment?
Every heavy equipment transport company is well-aware of the risks inherent to transporting a heavy haul. The chief risk is that the load or trailer will come loose. If part of the cargo falls off the trailer, or the trailer itself detaches, it could get damaged. More urgently, it could cause a serious accident. Less urgently, cargo may accrue damage even if it stays secure. Equipment may jostle or bump on the journey, which can crack or damage machinery. Fortunately, professional transport services guard against these risks by taking several precautions.
Cargo Securement Regulations
The Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) mandate best practices in cargo securement. DOT specifically imposes additional regulations for heavy equipment and machinery. The regulations require trucking services to abide by working load limits for securement straps and chains. They also regulate load placement when loading and unloading, to keep the bed balanced.
DOT further regulates the correct use of tie-downs. Regulations are complex, and include calculations to ensure the securement system can withstand the following forces of motion:
- Forward force (80% of cargo weight)
- Rearward force, accelerating (50% of cargo weight)
- Sideways force, turning (50% of cargo weight)
- Upward force, cresting a hill (20% of cargo weight)
These requirements are only satisfied if cargo remains “fully contained” under these conditions.
FMCA also requires trucks that bear heavy or overside loads to use appropriate signage. This informs other drivers of potential safety risks. And it encourages drivers to give the cargo truck a wide berth. In some cases, a truck must use a flag that says, “oversize load.” In other cases, it must use reflective symbols.
Services to Mitigate Risks
Transport services, including heavy haulers, often provide solutions that further mitigate safety risks. These solutions protect transported equipment from damage and protect the truck as a whole from risking an accident.
Dunnage is a method of protecting cargo, including equipment and machinery, as the hauler loads it onto the truck. Dunnage is a protective cushion that covers or sits between pieces of cargo. It protects the equipment from getting damaged if it jostles. Dunnage can be as simple as woodchips or as specialized as patented air cushions. Transport services may also offer edge protectors or corner protectors. These plastic devices sit on a sharp edge or corner of a piece of equipment. It protects the edge from direct friction imposed by a tie-down or securement strap.
Pilot Car (Escort Vehicle)
A pilot car is a unique escort service offered by transport companies. Pilot cars escort flatbed trailer trucks carrying oversize or overweight loads. In many states, this service is mandatory.
Trained professional drivers drive pilot cars in front of the truck. In some cases, two pilot cars escort a truck: one in front, and one behind. Drivers in pilot cars create a clear path for the truck. They also communicate with the truck driver via CB radio. This lets them give the trucker information critical to switching lanes, and even choosing alternate routes, safely.
How Expensive is it to Haul Heavy Equipment?
Transportation logistics providers hesitate to give even an average cost of hauling heavy equipment. For one trip, shipping can cost as little as $950. For another, it’s over $5000.
This is because service providers calculate shipping costs based on the distance of the trip, the weight of the cargo, and factors that make the trip more complex (like a pilot car escort).
There are also different types of transportation services. Full truckload (FTL) service differs from intermodal transport services. And those are both distinct from less-than-load and port drayage services. First, read about different transport service options. Full service options include logistics support. Once you know which option seems right for your equipment, you can begin to calculate transport costs.
Calculate Transportation Costs
To calculate the cost of transporting heavy equipment, determine your pick-up point, your drop-off point, and your arrival window. Then, gather the following statistics about your cargo:
- Pallet count
It is wise to request quotes from multiple transport services and compare estimates.
Do all Transportation Companies Move Heavy Equipment?
No. Some transportation companies are not equipped to move heavy equipment safely.
If you need to move heavy machinery, make sure the transportation company you choose has a high weight limit. For example, Carroll’s Port Drayage trucking service is certified for heavy-weight cargo. In some instances, you can talk to a service provider about your shipment needs. Then, the provider will come up with a solution that fits your cargo’s weight and bulk.
All-In-One Transportation and Logistics
When you need to move critical assets, don’t leave anything to chance. At Carroll Trucking, our expert logistic teams know how to make hauling heavy equipment easy. We’ve provided reliable transportation services to industrial giants and government agencies since 1977. Customize your service to suit your shipping needs. We offer trucking and intermodal transport from port to door. Contact us today to learn what we can do for you.