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International Forwarding Association Blog » Specialized transportation » Shipping Oversized Cargo, Modes, Challenges, and Considerations
Oversized Cargo

Shipping Oversized Cargo, Modes, Challenges, and Considerations

Oversized loads cover a wide range of freight that differs in terms of dimensions, weight, and technical characteristics. Shipping of heavyweight items is more challenging than transporting standard-sized cargo due to their dimensions and the fact they are subject to special regulations. There are many things to account for, from freight specifics and optimal delivery route to challenges and problems with transport.

Types of Oversized Loads

There is a variety of freight types that are categorized as oversized cargo, including industrial machinery such as large engines, bulldozers, and cranes and vehicles such as trucks and cars. Steel structures and beams and special, quarry, and mining equipment are also oversized cargo. Additionally, non-standard freight includes construction facilities, prebuilt homes, yachts, turbines, and power generation equipment.

Considerations and Challenges

Oversized cargo requires special attention due to the high costs in case that damage occurs. The choice of mode of transport depends on whether non-standard or standard oversized freight is being shipped. Standard oversized loads include compact-sized equipment, building materials, and steel constructions with weight up to 30 tons. The dimensions should not have considerable excess over standard height (3 – 3.5 meters), width (3.5 – 4 meters), and length (15 – 16 meters).

Such freight can be shipped by truck or a fleet of trucks with the appropriate identification signs and marks. Special oversized cargo, on the other hand, includes parts for large mining equipment, sections for power generation plants, basins for food manufacturers, and other heavy elements. As a rule, this type of cargo has large dimensions and a relatively small weight and can be transported by road trucks. However, there are limitations when it comes to height (6 meters), width (7 meters), and length (10 meters).

Long cargo such as beams, long pipes, rails, and rod posts may require special vehicles and drivers with extensive long-haul experience. Heavy lifts also count as special oversized cargo and include engines and turbines with small dimensions but large weight. Heavyweight items between 100 and 300 tons are typically transported by multi-axle trucks fitted with semi-trailers. Massive and large cargo make for a fourth category with height up to 40 meters and weight up to 900 tons. Such freight is mainly shipped by river or sea due to its dimensions and weight.

Oversized and heavy freight is also subject to special regulations. This is so because freight forwarders must not exceed the technical limitations of pathways and roads. Oversized freight may damage tunnels, bridge foundations, and road paving if technical limitations are not set in place.

When delivering oversized cargo, it is important to bring the required safety signs for the container and vehicle. Typically, heavyweight load signs are in black and yellow, placed at the back and front of the vehicle, to attract drivers’ attention and prevent road accidents. The two main types are metal and mesh oversize load signs, both of which can be secured via tie downs such as bungees or grommets.