Top Tips When Shipping Heavy Items Or Equipment

Typically, pretty much every sellable item around the world can fit inside a shipping container, whether this takes the form of a 20ft or 40ft unit.

This means that for the most part, for large shipments of goods, parts or even completed cars and vehicles, they will likely be shipped as part of a large container ship in a relatively standard container.

But what happens if you want to send an item around the world that is so big or so heavy it cannot fit or is too heavy to safely carry in a shipping container, such as a piece of construction equipment?

The protocols for heavy equipment shipping are often very different compared to items that are of a more usual size or weight, but with careful consideration and consultation, there will be a way to ship unusually heavy items or pieces of equipment.


If your vehicle can be driven a short distance, the most common shipping method will be via the Roll-on/Roll-off (RO-RO) method.

This simply means that the piece of equipment will be towed or carried to the docking area, where large ramps will be put into place and the vehicle will drive onto the vessel and then off it once it reaches its destination.

This works for most pieces of equipment that have wheels or treads, but what about stationary equipment such as construction cranes? Some specific mobile cranes often do not have wheels and thus would be unable to use the RO-RO method.

Thankfully, this is not the only way to ship around the world.

Flat Rack Containers

If an object cannot fit into a shipping container, one solution is to remove the walls and the ceiling and then load the heavy equipment into that before carefully securing it into place.

This is a flat rack container that works to a degree like a flat-bed truck or the pallet a forklift would use to lift heavy goods.

Once it is placed on the rack, the dock’s crane system is then used to load it onto the vessel.


In some cases, if a piece of equipment is particularly bulky, then the only step that can be taken is to take some or all of it apart before loading the pieces into a shipping container to take overseas.

Whilst this means that some time will be needed at both sides of the journey to take it apart and put it back together, it can in some cases be significantly cheaper to ship a vehicle this way than attempt to carry it as a whole.

Be Aware Of Import And Export Restrictions

Heavy equipment, especially used heavy equipment, can sometimes need to meet stringent quarantine and sanitation requirements before it is allowed into a particular destination.

The reason for this is that construction equipment can sometimes attract vermin and pests that get stuck into the bodywork and tyres, and many countries will not take the ecological risks.

As ever, consulting with a freight forwarder before you make arrangements will help to make your life easier and avoid hidden unexpected expenses.