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Transporting Heavy Equipment Safely

Hoping for the best and possibly breaking a few laws at the same time is not likely the best strategy for transporting heavy equipment. By following a few simple guidelines, you can move equipment between job sites safely and efficiently. Fleet safety can be one of those things that is easy to overlook but can also cost you big in the long run.

Knowing the weight of your equipment and the capacity of your trailer are critical. You should also know how much your truck can pull safely, how to load and secure your equipment to your trailer and some basic facts about load distribution.

Training your drivers correctly from the beginning is a big part of the equation. Everything from securement training, keeping the right distance between other vehicles and operating around hazardous objects such as bridges and wires and communicating with your escorts makes the perfect combination for a safe haul. Drivers should review and update their driving skills whenever possible and they may need additional training before taking on large projects. Fleet managers should always be sure that their drivers’ skills are up to date and that they are always adhering to safety guidelines.

One of the most critical elements of transporting heavy equipment haul is making sure your load is secure. The second is how to haul your trailer. Over the years, technology has made things much easier with GPS, hydraulics, and even truck ergonomics to make your drivers more comfortable.

Securing Your Heavy Equipment

When you need to get your heavy machinery from one destination (job site) to the next, you want to work with a safe load and keep the equipment securely in place. You can lessen the risk of damage during sudden stops, accidents and high-speed turns by following a few simple steps.

Every year there are thousands of violations regarding load fastening. As one of the most vital components in conducting a massive move, you need to be aware and check the following elements:

  • Secured vehicle equipment
  • Strong tie downs
  • Proper heavy equipment and machine protection
  • Correct cargo, systems and devices protection
  • Ideal securing procedures from the front and rear portions of the vehicle
  • Immobilized equipment

When driving on the road or maneuvering through difficult situations like tight turns and challenging road conditions, you want to ensure your heavy equipment stays in place. Like most jobs using the right tools can make it a lot easier. You can simplify the process when you adhere to several steps, including strategic planning and precise execution:

  • Prepare ahead of time
  • Work with the proper trailer
  • Secure the load with the right tools
  • Rely on trained and experienced drivers
  • Obtain the correct permits
  • Understand the towing requirements for different states
  • Run the driving route in advance
  • tips for securing heavy equipment


Best Practices for Hauling Heavy Equipment

Now it’s time to get down to the details of actually hauling equipment with your trailer. As with many things in life, there is a before, during and after phase — and it holds for carrying heavy machinery to each job site.


  1. Before Loading Your Machines

Before placing your equipment onto the trailer, adjust what you need according to the next few phases:

  • Verify that the transport vehicle’s gross vehicle weight rating and/or gross combination weight rating will not be exceeded.
  • Determine if permits for oversize loads will be required.
  • Are there any loading guidelines that need to be followed for the equipment, such as the use of locking pins, brakes, a gear, outriggers, or deck wideners?
  • Determine where the equipment will be placed on the transport vehicle to balance the weight distribution and to secure the equipment properly.
  • Inspect the equipment’s securement points for wear and damage.
  • If there will be low friction between the equipment and the transport vehicle (such as metal crawler tracks on a metal deck), determine if friction devices are necessary.
  • If the equipment to be hauled has rubber tires, verify the tire pressure. Low pressure may result in the loosening of the tiedowns.
  • Remove any excessive aggregate, dirt, debris, or other substances that may fall or reduce friction during transit.
  1. During Loading

Driving your machines onto a trailer can be a relatively easy process when you consider the following:

  • Never operate equipment you’re unfamiliar with and cannot operate safely.
  • Whenever you can place your machine against the vehicle structure to prevent forward shifting.
  • Be aware of hydraulic or brake hoses and cylinders when attaching tie downs and straps to eliminate damage to your equipment.
  • Install edge protection to your trailer to protect tie downs and straps.
  • Follow the equipment manufacturer’s attachment point suggestions.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when it comes to securing your heavy machinery.
  • Work with the appropriate attachment points that are strong and suitable to withstand specific levels of weight.
  • Use chains if you can as they are the preferred tie-down method for heavy machinery.
  • Always use direct tie downs when possible.
  • To prevent your trailer, as well as the equipment, from rolling away, use chocks, wedges, cradles or other tools to prevent the system from shifting.
  1. After You Set Your Equipment

Once you have your engines in place, take one more sweeping look at your load to ensure safe, reliable and efficient transportation:

  • Lower all accessory equipment and other movable parts such as hydraulic shovels, booms, plows, crane arms, etc., and secure them to the transport vehicle using tiedowns. Accessories equipped with locking pins or similar devices which prevent movement in any direction do not have to be secured with additional securement devices.
  • Hydraulics alone are not enough to secure accessory equipment.
  • When the equipment being transported has an articulation point, pivot, or hinge within its construction, lock or restrain the vehicle or equipment to prevent any articulation while in transit. Secure other items that aren’t attached to the equipment to the trailer by adhering to cargo securement rules.
  • Confirm the final height and width of the towing vehicle and trailer.
  • Inspect your trailer and truck to make sure they conform to towing regulations.
  • why effectively transporting heavy equipment matters


Follow DOT Tie-Down Requirements.

The golden rule in the DOT tie-down requirements is the sum of the WLL (Working Load Limit) from all tie-downs must be at least 50 percent of the weight of the piece of equipment. If the sum of your four tie-downs doesn’t get you to that point, use as many tie-downs as needed to satisfy that requirement.

Make sure you’re aware of the securement points on the piece of equipment you’re hauling. Trailers will generally have areas to attach tie-downs, but equipment can be a little tougher. Knowing your equipment and where you can or cannot tie down can save money in costly repairs and more importantly keep you and your equipment safe during transport.

It is nearly impossible to determine how long a web or chain will remain in usable condition, so visual inspection is critical. Tie-downs should be inspected prior to every use and immediately taken out of service when defects are found. The grade of chain, strength of webbing, frequency of use, and type of cargo are among the many factors that influence tie-down longevity.

The experts at USA Trailer Sales carry a huge selection of trailers and are always here to help you negotiate the many options and possible customizations available when buying your trailer. Please contact us with any questions you may have or stop by one of our six Michigan locations to speak with a local trailer expert today.