One of the most critical and often overlooked aspects of a project that requires pile driving equipment or use of a drill rig is transportation. There are teams solely dedicated to transporting construction equipment, given the challenges moving heavy equipment can present.
There’s more to transporting this machinery than simply loading it on the back of a truck and getting on the road. It requires thoughtful planning to transport machinery properly without damaging hardware or mechanical systems or posing a public safety hazard.
A comprehensive guide to transporting pile hammers, rigs, and other heavy equipment
This guide should help you understand the process, what to consider, and how to best transport your pile driving or drilling rigs without any hiccups.
Hiring Transportation Pros or DIY?
If you have an experienced heavy hauler on your team, you already understand the amount of planning and work that goes into transporting heavy construction equipment. Many times your construction equipment supplier will be able to give you guidance on selecting a professional transportation company for your construction equipment rental.
Another critical factor to consider is that professional equipment transportation companies are already familiar with all local, state, and federal regulations. Violating Department of Transportation (DOT) guidelines can result in hefty fines and will easily outweigh any savings you may gain by transporting your equipment yourself.
Construction equipment rental companies with many years of experience, like RPI Equipment, can help you identify and collaborate with a trusted transportation company to keep your project on track from day one.
There are a number of variables you will encounter when you begin to develop your transportation plan. Depending on the regional climate and season, you may experience inclement weather that can create dangerous driving conditions for trucks carrying considerably heavy cargo. You should document any potential risks and create a contingency plan.
Because of the nature of heavy equipment transportation, your focus should not be on speed but on getting the job done right the first time to avoid costly damage or downtime.
Another challenge is that when you’re transporting large equipment, it can present site-specific obstacles that can result in accidents or delays. Carefully planning your route to consider height compliance may require you to travel a longer distance.
Responsibilities and Roles
As your transportation plan starts to come together, everyone’s roles and responsibilities need to be clearly defined to ensure smooth transit. A spotter can help ensure the equipment is loaded in the correct position as the driver will likely not have a clear line of sight as the rig is being loaded up.
Anyone not directly involved in the transport should not be in the area during loading to avoid confusion or injury. Define every person’s specific roles ahead of time to prevent communication breakdowns.
All transportation equipment should be clean, well maintained, and free of dirt, debris, or oil to create a secure platform for construction equipment. These elements can reduce traction and make the loading and unloading challenging.
Work with your transportation team to develop a comprehensive inspection checklist before you start loading up your rigs. This should include the following:
- Check tire pressure and condition to ensure proper weight capacity is met.
- Testing all indicators, brake lights, headlights, and other safety features.
- A careful inspection of the brake systems to ensure proper safety.
- Tie-down points should be checked and tested. Most states require four tie-down points for loads exceeding 10,000 pounds. Machinery with excavators or booms will require additional tie-downs.
Not only will this help ensure smooth transit, having these in sections documents can prove due diligence in the event of a malfunction. Any issues discovered during the inspection should be immediately reported and resolved before any loading begins.
Loading and Unloading
When the equipment is being loaded on the trailer’s deck, its center of gravity will shift. This process should be done slowly as the driver needs to use the spotter, and moving too quickly can cause catastrophic failure during loading.
Ensure that the majority of the weight is distributed towards the front of the trailer to avoid fishtailing during transportation.
When you arrive at the job site, the area should be cleared of anyone not directly involved with the transportation efforts. The ground should be level and compacted to ensure that it can handle the total weight of the trailer and cargo.
Wet soil conditions may prove difficult when unloading as they cannot bear the same loads as dry earth. This may require careful planning and monitoring of weather conditions in the days leading up to hauling your equipment.
These are among the most important considerations when transporting heavy equipment. Check with all DOT regulations and guidelines defined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) to ensure strict compliance to avoid fines or litigation.
Heavy equipment transportation happens every day, and while it may present some unique challenges with a thoughtful plan, proper safety protocols, and an experienced team, you will be able to get your pile driving or drilling project off to a smooth start.