Heavy equipment transportation is a serious task that's dangerous if not performed correctly. However, it's a necessary one. In the U.S., commercial vehicles make up 4.6% of all registered vehicles, yet account for 10% of miles traveled. Businesses rely on commercial transportation to ship heavy equipment from one place to another.

The last thing you want during the process is an injury on the jobsite or damage to costly parts. Before you transport machinery, prepare it. You must load and secure it according to state and federal regulations.

Preparation minimizes risks and increases the overall safety of everyone involved. Follow the five safety tips below to get your heavy equipment ready for transportation.

1. Check the owner's manual

The owner's manual, also known as the service manual, provides specific instructions on how to prepare and transport your equipment. Here you can find specific details, such as how to prepare the machine, secure a moving part or tie components down. You can also find measurements and weights, which you may need for shipping purposes.

The manual provides information on what to cover before transportation. You may need to disconnect the battery and alarm system to prevent an annoyance during transport. Some equipment with wheels may come with a locking mechanism to prevent sliding.

2. Inspect your trailer's capabilities

Before you load heavy equipment onto a trailer, it is essential to inspect its hauling capabilities. Check the weight it's capable of pulling. If your trailer can only carry 900 pounds, and your equipment is 1,200, you'll have to find a suitable alternative. If you attempt to haul an item that's too heavy, you can damage your trailer and vehicle.

Check the pressure on your trailer's tires. Refer to the manual to find the ideal pressure ratio. Grab a partner and check that the brakes are working correctly. If everything passes inspection, you're ready to start the loading process.

3. Prepare Your Trailer for Loading

The trailer and the ramp must be clear before loading heavy equipment. Remove any debris — including leaves, rocks, rags, etc. — that may clog up the area. Clean oil and lubricant off the ramp to prevent a slick surface.

An open path ensures a straightforward load transition. The smoother the change from ground to trailer bed, the safer the process for all individuals involved.

4. Cover the vulnerable parts

When you transport heavy equipment on an open container, it's exposed to the weather. Before you ship, cover vulnerable parts you don't want open to wind, rain or snow. In the winter, protect the tank and lines from freezing with insulation measures. In the summer, protect machinery from overheating.

It would be unfortunate to successfully deliver a machine, only to realize exposure to the elements damaged it. If you're in doubt about what to cover, check your owner's manual for guidance.

5. Load and secure equipment

Once everything is in place and covered, choose your tie-down points. The standard mandate is four points for shipments of 5,000 pounds or more. Extra straps may be necessary for added security. If you are working with a hauling company, their driver will load and secure equipment following DOT regulations. You can also load everything yourself.

Even with locking mechanisms, secure each wheel with a wedge to ensure it doesn't move during transport. Once everything is fixed and snugly in place, it's ready to hit the road.

Shipping heavy machinery is necessary for businesses to thrive. To send and receive equipment on time, ensure your load is secured correctly.

In 2018, roughly 22% of commercial vehicles were placed out-of-service due to violations during inspections. Of those, 13% were cargo securement violations.

Save time and money by learning proper protocol before it's time to strap things down.