How to Transport Heavy Equipment

Heavy equipment is expensive and can be dangerous when not treated with care and respect, so operators are almost always required to undergo training before using it. This training typically covers how to secure, move and accomplish tasks with the equipment, but one important aspect it may not cover is the long-haul transportation of construction equipment and heavy machinery.

At H.O. Penn, we want you to know exactly what to do when duty calls you across the state or country, so we’re here to take you through it with valuable tips on transporting heavy machinery.

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Preparing Construction Equipment for Transport

Preparation is a vital step to take before starting the transportation process. Taking the time to understand how the operation should work allows you to go into the move with a plan and anticipate the most challenging parts. Make sure you do these things to prepare your construction equipment for transportation.

Make a Risk Assessment

A risk assessment is a document the head of your transportation team — usually a supervisor — makes to show they’ve planned this move to be as safe as possible. It should document the equipment you’re moving, what you’re using to move it and how you’re addressing any of the inherent risks of this operation.

Get Safety Equipment

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is just one part of the long list of tools you need to keep your team and equipment safe during a move. Once you have your risk assessment, you can look at areas where your people are most likely to suffer injury. Then, you can supply them with PPE designed to mitigate the dangers they may face.

Evaluate Your Transportation

Whether you’re moving your equipment a few miles or hundreds of miles, the transportation vehicle needs to be in good repair to make the journey safely. Start by making sure the truck or trailer you use has adequate hauling capacity to manage heavy machinery. Before you load the equipment, check over every part of the vehicle for anything in need of repairs or replacement, including the:

  • Tires
  • Brakes
  • Lights
  • Carrying bed
  • Tie points
  • Chains, binders & blocking

How to Safely Load Heavy Equipment

After preparing for the journey, it’s time to get started. As you load your construction equipment for transport:

  • Start with a plan: Designate tasks to everyone involved so that they’re all focused on some important aspect of loading, whether it be placement, lifting or chaining.
  • Clean and clear loading areas: Your equipment, transportation and staging area should be as free of dirt, oil and debris as possible, allowing for a smooth loading operation with minimal liability risks.
  • Work slowly: It takes time to get everything in the right place safely. Allow plenty of time to work so no one feels compelled to rush and risks missing a crucial step.
  • Be familiar: Always be familiar with any specific loading, unloading and transportation
    information provided by the equipment manufacturer. This information is usually published in
    operators and / or maintenance manuals provided for the specific model of equipment.
  • Pay attention to ties: Most heavy equipment transportation requires at least four ties, but larger or disassembled equipment may need more. Be sure any chains you use fit properly and have no slack when secured.

Transporting Your Equipment Safely

As you get on the road with your equipment, keep these tips in mind.

Find the Safest Route

In most cases, there are many routes you can take to get to your destination. As a business manager, you may be tempted to take the one that gets you there fastest so you can maximize your time and profits. However, when considering the route your equipment should take, speed should not be your first priority.

Take a look at the terrain you’ll need to cover. Are there a lot of steep hills or unpaved roads? What about tunnels and bridges with weight and height limits? If you have the time, it’s best to do a run-through of your planned route before you take the equipment on the road so you can ensure the smoothest ride possible.

Schedule En Route Inspections

Even if you’re certain your equipment is as secure as possible, conditions on the road can jostle the load and require readjustments. Between the movements of driving, unfavorable road conditions, and wind or other weather, it’s wise to plan for regular inspections while you’re en route to your destination to add an extra layer of security.

You can choose to inspect the equipment as often as you want — larger or wide loads may require a particularly close eye. At the very least, you should perform an inspection at the following points:

  • Within the first 50 miles of travel
  • Every three hours or 150 miles — whichever comes first
  • Every time you change drivers

Be sure to document every inspection. Then, if something does go wrong, you can determine what might have caused the issue and if you could have done anything to prevent it.

Unloading Equipment Safely

Once you’ve arrived at your destination, the job is nearly complete. To unload your heavy equipment, follow these steps:

  • Clean and clear unloading areas: As you did during the loading process, make sure any extra equipment, boxes, dirt and debris are out of the way.
  • Position transportation for the easiest unloading process: Try to park your vehicle as close to the equipment’s final location as possible. That means less moving for you and your team to complete.
  • Free the equipment: Begin with the rear corners of the equipment and free each chain or binding one at a time. Use equipment like a ratchet-style wrench boomer to release pressure gently and prevent ties from snapping.
  • Complete a final inspection: Finally, before you get to work, give your equipment one final inspection to ensure everything has stayed in place and is ready to operate at full capacity.

Find the Right Equipment for All Your Jobs

At H.O. Penn, we’re dedicated to providing you with the best in new and used construction equipment from Caterpillar and other industry leaders so you can make the most of any job, anywhere. Our knowledgeable sales team will help you get everything you need to safely transport your equipment and move on to your next project as quickly as possible. Contact us today to get the answers to all your heavy equipment transportation questions.

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