Heavy lift cargo handling: all you should know

Shipping heavy and oversized cargo is a challenging task. It is one of the most difficult services that shipping companies conduct. Luckily, there are companies that are proficient in heavy lift cargo handling. And with their help, things should be easier. However, the safe arrival of your cargo doesn’t depend only on your shipper. Other parties should be involved in the process as well. And you should all tightly cooperate if you want your cargo to arrive at its destination safely and in time. Here are the things you should know about heavy lift cargo handling.

Heavy lift cargo handling is one of the most complicated things in the logistics industry

As mentioned above, shipping heavy lift cargo is one of the most demanding processes in the shipping industry. Therefore, it can be difficult to understand how exactly this process works. Besides, the difficulties that come with lifting and moving such a heavy load, there is much planning and complicated paperwork concerning various permissions that have to be acquired. And cargo import and export paperwork that has to be prepared in order to move overweighed items successfully. That is why using the services of a reliable freight forwarder that has experience with heavy lift cargo handling is crucial in these kinds of jobs. Of course, you could do it without their help. But it will need you several years of experience to learn all the tricks of the trade.

Port, ship and crane
Shipping heavy lift cargo is one of the most complex processes in the logistics industry

What is considered a heavy lift cargo?

Heavy lift cargo is cargo that you can’t break down into smaller parts. And it weighs somewhere between 1 and 1000 tons and/or has dimensions over 100 meters in length or height. There are many industries that are using heavy lift or project cargo services including construction, oil, gas, or even military. And they are usually shipping various kinds of turbines, oil rig parts, reactors, compressors, specialty and construction vehicles and equipment that could be a part of a bigger project.

Ways to move heavy and oversized cargo

You can ship heavy cargo via land, sea, or air with the help of specialty vehicles and equipment.  Here is the list of vehicles and equipment for heavy lift cargo handling:

  • Self-Propelled Modular Transporters (SPMT) for heavy lift cargo handling.
  • Modular trailers
  • Step-deck trailers
  • Low-bed trailers
  • Flat-bed trailers
  • Semi-submerging or flo/flo ships
  • Different kinds of crane vessels
  • Large cargo planes
Illustration of a flatbed truck
There are special trailers that are used for heavy and oversize cargo

Different overseas shipping companies may offer different ways of transporting your heavy lift cargo. They may offer different vehicles and different routes. That means that you will get very different quotes. Therefore, it is up to you or your freight forwarder to decide what is the best option.

Information to prepare before you engage in heavy lift cargo handling

But before deciding about ways to ship your heavy cargo there is some information that you need to prepare. Information that the shipping company will need to know in order to properly assess your needs. Here are the questions that your shipper will ask you:

  • What is the weight and size of your load?
  • Where is the center of gravity of your cargo?
  • Where are the securing points?
  • Are there any required or permitted support points on your load?
  • What is the maximum load for those support points?
  • Where are the points where lifting attachments can be added?
  • How to safely add lifting attachments on the load?
  • Are there any restrictions regarding the speed in which your cargo can be moved?
  • Is there any additional equipment that will be necessary for loading and unloading your heavy cargo?
  • Is the additional equipment traveling with the load?
  • What are the dimensions of the backup equipment?

You will also need to mark your cargo’s weight, a center of gravity and securing and support points, so it is clearly visible from all sides.

Prepare charts and diagrams

Additionally, the shipping company will usually need diagrams and charts that will show all security arrangements, lifting stresses, anticipated maximum forces that cargo will suffer during lifting and transportation, and all other important information. Of course, that information will also require the approval of the shipping company’s engineers and surveyors before they can engage in the process.

Planning is crucial with heavy lift cargo handling

Planning and preparation are some of the most important parts of moving heavy cargo. And you need to be prepared for all possible scenarios in advance. Think about weather conditions. You should protect your cargo against heat, rain, snow, and so on. Have a maintenance vehicle and crew ready to help with any possible emergency that could occur during lifting and transportation. A day before your shipment starts to move, survey the road conditions. The driver needs to be aware of traffic flows, road maintenance, low bridges, complicated junctions, and such. Also, if anything happens that is beyond your control the cargo should wait in a safe zone until the danger is clear. In that case, make sure that all interested parties are notified about the situation.

PLanning Heavy lift cargo handling
Planning is crucial with heavy lift cargo handling

If you want to earn more, learn about the business

Of course, using reliable and experienced freight forwarder is a good way to start with shipping heavy lift cargo. They will do most of your work for you, and all you will have to do is to prepare the shipment. However, you will have to pay for this kind of help. So, many importers and exporters are learning about the business so they could do heavy lift cargo shipping on their own, without paying for freight forwarder services. But, if that is so easy to do, freight forwarders wouldn’t exist. You will need to learn tons of different laws and regulations for each country that you are working with. Also, you will need to know complicated procedures and how to fill out the complicated paperwork. But if you manage to learn it all the final reward could be much greater.

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