Shipping heavy machinery: tips and tricks

CitizenShipper CitizenShipper · Updated: August 8, 2023 / Published: June 25, 2019

heavy equipment shipping


While shipping heavy machinery is often a complicated and time-consuming process, it does not need to be. By following a few simple guidelines, you can assure safe transportation and keep the costs down at the same time. Here’s a list of things you need to consider before shipping your tractors, dozers, or other heavy equipment.

Gauge the density of your shipment

What transporters usually call “density” is the estimate of a shipment’s size, weight, and shape. It’s very important to measure this accurately when shipping heavy machinery. To accommodate your requirements, the transport provider needs to have this information.

It’s not too difficult to calculate the density for an item of heavy machinery. Simply divide its weight in pounds by the volume of the space it occupies in cubic feet (height x width x length). This result, the item’s pound-per-cubic-feet, is what you’ll need to provide for the transporter. It lets them know what kind of shipping conveyance they need, what the loading procedure should be, and more.

Structure your budget carefully

Before you start looking for shipping quotes from individual transporters, you’ll need to know what to expect. It might be a good idea to first look into what similar shipments usually cost. The larger shipping companies usually offer cost calculators on their websites. Using these, you’ll be able to see what their rates are for shipping heavy machinery across a given distance. You’re not looking for an exact figure there – just a ballpark estimate so you’d know what to expect.

Once you start getting quotes, you’ll probably see that they’re significantly lower than what that early estimate was. But don’t rush into a decision just yet – make sure that you know exactly what’s covered and what’s not. For example, insurance is a top concern because of all the risks involved in shipping heavy machinery. Depending on the basic policy your transporter is offering, you might want to purchase extra insurance on top of that.

Prepare your shipment for transportation

Much like shipping an ordinary vehicle, an item of heavy machinery must be prepared before you transport it. It’s usually best to do this after you’ve decided on a transporter. They may have specific prepping requirements, and some might even provide advice or assistance. When it comes to safety, maintaining cooperation and communication is in everyone’s best interests.

Specific pre-shipment steps you need to take can vary, but in general terms they include:

  • Draining the fluids
  • Disconnecting the batteries
  • Securing all detachable components
  • Preparing the necessary permits or other paperwork
  • Running a safety check to assure the equipment is in working order

Pick a transporter experienced in shipping heavy machinery

And finally, the central part of any shipping arrangement – choosing the right man for the job. Looking through the quotes you got from transporters, you’ve narrowed down the selection to those that fit your budget. So where do you go from there, who makes the final cut?

There’s a number of criteria that you could apply in making the choice. At CitizenShipper, we encourage everyone to take advantage of customer feedback. Read through the reviews left by previous customers on a transporter’s profile page and see what they thought. Was the delivery as swift and secure as promised? Was the driver as cooperative and professional as advertised?

But specifically, when it comes to shipping heavy machinery, there’s really no substitute for experience. If you’re shipping a crane, pick someone who’s transported cranes before. If shipping long-distance, go with someone who’s driven heavy machinery long-distance before. Try to match a transporter’s previous experience to your own shipping requirements. The closer the match, the better the odds of successful delivery.

We hope that these loose guidelines are enough to steer you toward a satisfying shipping experience. For more advice or assistance, feel free to contact our support team.