By Megan R. Nichols
Heavy equipment is integral in a lot of fields, but moving it from the storage yard to the job site can be challenging. What do you need to know to help you understand and overcome these challenges?
As its name suggests, the equipment that you’re hauling is heavy, which can make it harder to manage if the weather isn’t ideal. In northern parts of the world, it becomes even more challenging because of snow and ice on the road. The last thing you want to do is lose control of a few tons of machinery on an icy road.
The easiest way to overcome this challenge is to avoid transporting your equipment in poor weather, but that isn’t always an option, especially if you work year-round. If staying home isn’t an option, ensure that all of your drivers are well-trained and experienced in a variety of different weather conditions. You don’t want someone behind the wheel who’s going to panic and slam their foot on the brakes if their tires start losing traction on an icy road.
Be aware of the kinds of weather that you’ll encounter on a regular basis. In the South, that might be rain, while in the North, you might have to contend with snow and ice. In the Midwest, you could face dust storms that can ruin visibility and potentially damage your equipment.
Keeping Equipment Secure
Even if a 10-ton piece of equipment seems like it isn’t going to go anywhere once you park it on the trailer, it’s crucial to secure your equipment while it’s in transport. All it takes is one jack-knifed trailer to send your expensive machinery rolling down the highway, damaging the equipment and anything in its path. According to the Department of Transportation, you need to secure all equipment — especially anything that weighs more than 10,000 pounds.
For larger equipment — anything that’s longer than 59 feet, wider than 8 feet or weighs more than 80,000 pounds, for example — you may need to obtain an oversized/overweight load permit to transport the equipment. The exact specifications for the license will vary from state to state, so it’s important to know the precise size and weight of each piece of machinery that will be transported.
The Necessity of Route Surveys
GPS can help you get where you’re going, but it doesn’t tell you about the kind of obstacles you might encounter on your route. That’s why a route survey is essential before you start transporting any equipment. If your path includes a road that has a “No Trucks Over 10,000 Pounds” sign, for example, you’ll need to rethink your route to avoid it.
This challenge is easy to overcome. All you need to do is to plan and carry out a route survey before the first piece of equipment leaves your lot. Travel the route in a passenger vehicle to ensure that you won’t run into any obstacles once the machinery is on the truck. This process is especially important if your jobsite is in an urban or suburban setting.
If you’ve had to obtain an oversized/overweight load permit, the state you’re operating in might limit the route that you’re able to take. Make sure to check with your local Department of Transportation to ensure that you’re complying with all local and state laws.
Always Be Prepared
The biggest thing you can do to overcome the challenges of transporting heavy equipment is to be prepared for anything. Ideally, your equipment will make it safely to the job site where it can be unloaded, but it doesn’t always work that way.
Before your first piece of machinery gets loaded onto a trailer, take the time to prepare for the transport. A route survey is just one of the tools you can utilize to ensure your equipment is safely delivered. It’s better to be overprepared than underprepared. Proper preparation can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
Transporting heavy equipment is never easy, but the challenges it presents don’t have to be insurmountable. Take the time to be prepared for any situation, and you’ll never be surprised when one of them comes to pass.
Megan R. Nichols is a technical writer and the editor of Schooled By Science. She regularly contributes to sites like Industry Today, Born2Invest, and Business Process Incubator. Follow Megan on Twitter @nicholsrmegan and subscribe to her blog to stay in touch.