How To Prepare Heavy Machinery for Shipment

How To Prepare Heavy Machinery for Shipment
How To Prepare Heavy Machinery for Shipment

The process for shipping heavy machinery is one necessary for many industries to survive. Countless others find this task initially overwhelming due to the additional requirements. However, there are things you can do before shipping begins to make the process smooth and less stressful. Here are some tips for how to prepare heavy machinery for shipment.

Shipping Method

One of the first decisions to make when preparing to export heavy machinery is how it will be shipped. There are four standard methods for transporting most oversized products; heavy machines are no different. The decision between container, lift-on/lift-off, roll-on/roll-off, or flat rack shipping will come down to the condition in which you want the item to arrive.


Container shipping has long been the standard of the shipping world. It allows for the easy loading and unloading of freight, including heavy machines. But there are limitations to the size of these containers. Depending upon your product's dimensions, it may be impossible to fit it inside a container without disassembling part of the machine. Another positive for containers is how easy they are to transport, which can lower costs as well.


The lift-on/lift-off method is as simple as it sounds: a crane lifts the heavy machine and place it onto the preferred cargo method. Upon arrival at the destination, a crane lifts the item off the transport and places it down. This method sounds remarkably simple but is a genuinely complex task due to the necessity of having a crane at both sites. Lift-on/Lift-off also means the crew at both locations be fully trained in the operation of the equipment required to load and unload the shipment. This type of specialized training isn’t cheap.


If the heavy machinery you’re shipping is fortunate enough to have wheels installed, you can use the roll-on/roll-off method. This approach is the simplest way to ship most oversized items. Trailers and other transport carriers simply must back up to the item and wheel it onboard. This does require a ramp capable of withstanding the weight of whatever is shipped. The most significant challenge faced when using the roll-on/roll-off method is the inability to maximize space by stacking the machines.

Flat Rack

One of the most common methods for shipping heavy machinery is flat rack shipping. The best time to use this method is when the machinery you are shipping must arrive in one piece. The machinery travels while mounted to the stackable container. The biggest downside is your items will be exposed to the elements. This requires extra precautions to avoid damaging things.


If your heavy machinery is in any danger of being exposed to the elements during transit, consider taking additional precautions to rustproof the cargo. Rustproofing is especially crucial when shipping heavy machinery overseas on cargo ships. There are three standard protective options used to help eliminate the threat of rust. They are:

  1. Plating—Tin and zinc plating offers an additional layer of resistance against corrosion.
  2. Galvanizing—Coated in layers of zinc and steel, with an outer shell of pure zinc, this rustproofing method also offers protection from dents and blemishes during transport.
  3. Painting—Some paints provide a level of rust protection, protecting your heavy machines so long as they’re coated in it.


The extra size and weight of what you are shipping will add to your shipping costs. There are several things you should consider when preparing the cargo.

Final Destination

The destination will obviously impact the cost—but for more reasons than you might think. The biggest reason is because of all the places the cargo must travel through. Different states and countries have different shipping rules and regulations that must be strictly adhered to. There may even be additional taxes and licensing requirements. These laws and regulations slow down how quickly the delivery arrives, adding further costs due to time.

Calculate Freight Density

The density of your heavy machinery will play a role in transport, yet machines can be modified to adhere to shipping requirements. The bigger an item is, of course, the more expensive it’ll be to ship. You must be able to fit your product into the agreed-upon hauler. Be sure to include any pallets and other packaging materials in your density measurements.

Delivery Priority

Decide how quickly you need to get the heavy machinery to its destination. The shorter the time frame, the greater the costs. This is where a good third-party logistics team can help find a shipping solution to efficiently get your heavy machinery through the network of delivery companies.

Packing Tips

There are many ways to adjust your packing methods to improve your shipping costs. Here are a few tips for how to prepare heavy machinery for shipment to further drive down your shipping fees.


To speed up the process, have all paperwork and permits ready and easily accessible. This paperwork helps get your machinery cleared and back on the road. Paperwork is vital when your heavy machinery crosses orders and customs become involved.

Check the Manual

Check your owner's manual or contact a support representative before packing your machinery for shipment. These sources allow you to safely disassemble the parts necessary to fit into your preferred shipping container.

Battery Powered

Before shipping, disconnect any batteries or other power supplies. The last thing you want is an incident during transport that would have preventable if your power supplies had been unplugged in the first place. Avoid mishap by taking action.

Empty Fluids

Drain all fluids to avoid them becoming mixed, which is a recipe for danger and disaster. This will protect your machine from the wrong liquids getting into parts and creating problems.

Package the Parts

If you’re disassembling items before transport, take the time to label, inventory, and securely pack everything before shipment. This forethought makes reassembly easier when you arrive at your destination.

If the transport of heavy machinery is in your business’s future, contact the shipping experts at Diversified Transportation Services. Our team specializes in many forms of freight transportation services and can create a winning strategy to satisfy all of your shipping needs.

How To Prepare Heavy Machinery for Shipment

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