Oversized Freight Shipping: What You Need To Know About Transporting Large And Bulky Items

Feb 1, 2023

Do you need to ship large or oversized items?

Whether it’s construction equipment, farm or industrial machinery, or even a new boat, shipping large and bulky items can be daunting. But with the right planning and research, the task can be done in a safe and efficient way. 

In this post, we will talk about the ins and outs of oversize freight shipping. This includes your equipment options, government regulations that dictate this shipping type and of course the logistics involved to get the job done.

So whether you’re a business owner or a contractor or just someone looking to ship a large item, read on for all the things you need to know about oversize freight shipping.

What Is Oversized Freight?

Oversized freight refers to any cargo that exceeds the standard size and weight limits set by shipping companies. If the item is bulky and will not fit a standard 40ft long shipping container, then it’s considered oversized or overweight.

Some examples include:

  • Farm machinery or heavy industrial equipment like tractors, excavators and bulldozers
  • Boats such as yachts and sailing boats
  • Large vehicles like buses, motor homes and camper vans 
  • Small aircraft - small planes and helicopters
  • Bulky furniture and household goods

The standard size and weight limits for freight shipping vary depending on the mode of transportation used, as well as specific guidelines set by the shipping company.

  • Sea Freight - for this mode of transportation, the standard shipping container size is typically 20 or 40 feet long, 8 feet wide and 8.5 feet high. Maximum weight of a 40ft shipping container is 30,400 KG.
  • Air Freight - Weight limit is around 100 KG. Any item that can not fit in a standard air freight consolidation will be tagged as oversized or overweight.

  • Rail Freight - Weight limit is around 30,400 KG for a 40ft container, while the limit for a 20ft container is 24,000 KG. The standard container size is 40 feet long, 8 feet wide, and 8.5 high.

  • Road Freight - Weight limit is around 30 KG. This includes items that are oversized in length of width. Examples of oversized or overweight items include gym equipment, bulky toys, trampolines, heavy furniture, baby cots, etc.

It’s important to note that while there are standard sizes and weight, some shipping companies could impose different guidelines.

crane lifting white boat on a pier

How To Manage Oversized Freight Shipping

Before we look at the challenges and considerations, let’s break down the steps so you can proceed to ship your oversized cargo.

1. Choose the Right Carrier

This is the most crucial step in ensuring a safe and efficient transport of your cargo. Choose a reputable carrier with experience in handling oversized loads. They’re expected to have the necessary equipment, permits and the industry know-how to navigate the unique challenges of transporting oversized cargo. They will also have a good understanding of the regulations and requirements and they will be able to guide you in obtaining the necessary permits and approvals from concerned authorities.

Couriers&Freight Numbers

Choosing the right carrier can also save you time and money. An experienced carrier will be able to provide you with the most efficient route and most cost-effective solution for your shipment. You can trust that your cargo will be handled with utmost care and attention. They will have the right equipment and personnel in place to properly load, secure and transport your cargo to its destination. 

So not only will you save time and money, an experienced carrier like Couriers & Freight Australia can also give you peace of mind. This is an important decision that should not be taken lightly. It’s always a great idea to do your own research, ask for references and compare carriers before making your final decision.

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2. Maximize Efficiency Through Advanced Technology

Use modern-day advanced technology to help you maximize efficiency in shipping oversized cargo. For example, using GPS tracking and real-time monitoring systems can help in optimizing routes, reduce fuel consumption and improve delivery times. 

Automated cargo handling equipment can also speed up loading and unloading. Aside from this, you could also reduce labor costs and minimize the risk of accidents. 

This could also be one of your qualifications in choosing the right carrier. Make sure that your shipper knows how to leverage advanced technology for maximum efficiency.

3. Develop a Risk Management Plan

Lastly, developing a comprehensive risk management plan is crucial. This plan should include identifying and assessing potential risks, implementing necessary controls to minimize or eliminate those risks, and regularly monitoring the effectiveness of those controls. 

Conduct a thorough assessment of the cargo and the route. Include factors such as weather conditions, road and bridge restrictions and potential hazards. By taking a proactive approach to risk management, you can minimize the risks of accidents or delays and ensure the safe and timely delivery of oversized freight.

Challenges of Shipping Large And Bulky Items

Due to its unconventional weight and size, expect to face difficulties when shipping large and bulky items.

container operation at a port

Here are some of the most common challenges in oversize freight shipping:

Physical Limitations and Restrictions

This is the most common difficulty in oversize freight shipping because the shipping company needs to consider the types of roads, bridges and tunnels that will be used to transport the cargo. For example, a large and bulky item may be too big or too tall to fit under bridges. In effect, the routes that will be used for transporting could be limited.

Logistical Challenges

This is another common difficulty in oversize freight shipping since it requires careful planning and coordination to make sure that the cargo is loaded, transported and unloaded safely at the destination point. Some items may also require special handling and special equipment such as cranes, forklift trucks and flatbed trucks.
Due to these multiple logistic considerations, oversize freight shipping is more prone to delays since shippers need to constantly come up with contingency plans to prepare for unforeseen issues or events.

Thus, your choice of shipper is crucial. This requires them to have a strong understanding of the whole process and they should plan ahead and coordinate effectively.

Compliance and Regulatory Requirements

To succeed in shipping large and bulky items, there are different laws and regulations set by state and local authorities that must be complied with. This can include permits, escort requirements and different regulations on the use of specific roads, bridges and tunnels.

Compliance could vary widely depending on the shipping route, type of cargo, and regulations of specific regions. If not complied with, it could lead to fines, delays, or worse, impoundment of cargo. 

Special Considerations When Transporting Oversized Freight

Aside from the challenges mentioned above, there are also special considerations when transporting oversize freight. But fret not for we will walk you through the entire process so you’ll be more prepared and confident to ship large and bulky items.

Planning and Preparation

Before any transport can take place, proper permits must be obtained from relevant authorities as mentioned above. Aside from this, routing must be carefully planned to make sure that the large and bulky item/s can reach its destination safely and efficiently. This could involve coordinating with local authorities.

foreman control loading container box from cargo

Equipment and Infrastructure

Additionally, selecting the right equipment to load, unload or transport the oversize cargo is essential. This includes choosing the appropriate vehicle, trailer or any necessary equipment. The shipper should also make sure that the equipment is in good working condition and the driver is properly trained to handle the oversized load. Contingency plans must also be in place in case things don’t go as planned. 

Wrap-Up: Implementing Best Practices For Oversized Freight Shipping

To sum it all up, oversize freight shipping presents its own set of unique challenges. 

But with the right planning and execution, it can be done safely and effectively. Choosing the right carrier that uses advanced technology and has a comprehensive risk management plan in place, there’s no doubt that you’ll be able to navigate the obstacles that come with shipping oversized cargo.

robert lynch headshot

Robert Lynch

Founder of Australia’s largest outside hire company Couriers & Freight, Robert Lynch is a seasoned business leader in the shipping industry with over 20 years of experience. His expertise spans from outside hire, taxi truck, and last-mile services to freight management, freight forwarding and warehousing. 

Robert has also incorporated technology into his business through custom software to enhance growth and efficiency. Robert is a valuable resource for business owners looking to improve their logistics operations.

Connect with Robert Lynch on LinkedIn.

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