Machinery transport is a complex task. There are countless factors to consider; Destination, Mode of Shipping/Customs, Size & Type of Equipment & Time Scales. How will the dismantled equipment be secured while in transit to prevent damage? What are the most efficient shipping routes, and can they handle valuable, sensitive and potentially very large cargo?
Businesses can decide to relocate manufacturing equipment and machinery for any number of reasons. Often it’s to do with size. The business has grown and requires more floorspace in order to fulfill its operations. Sometimes relocation is part of a wider transformation project. Or it may be a response to changes in the law or a recent merger or acquisition.
Whatever the reason, if you’re thinking about moving manufacturing machinery, you’re probably wondering where to start and who to speak to.
In which case, you’re in the right place. In this piece, we’re going to talk you through our simple six-step process for machinery transport, from briefing to planning, to packing, shipping and reassembly. If you have any questions or want to learn more, you can drop us a line by telephone or email (you can find both in our header).
Machinery transport: step-by-step
1. Planning and briefing
Our first step is to conduct an in-depth site survey to gather as much information as we can. Every aspect of the project will be looked into:
- The scope of works – who does what?
- What are we moving, where are we picking it up from and where’s it going?
- What are the dimensions of the machinery?
- How many machines are there?
- How much do they weigh?
- How sensitive is the equipment to shock, temperature and moisture?
- Are there any special handling requirements?
- Are any particular shipping marks or contract numbers required on the containers?
- Does the equipment need to be stored at a specific temperature?
And that’s just the start. The research process is exhaustive, with good reason. Every piece of information helps us to calibrate our approach to match the unique requirements of the project. By the end of this process, we’ll be able to map out the steps required from start to finish with confidence, and provide you with accurate costs and timelines for completion. We will also be able to complete our risk assessment and method statement, to ensure we meet any health and safety requirements.
Once the quote has been approved, our team in the workshop will begin preparing the shipping crates. The design and build of the crates will be determined by the cargo and the information gathered during the site survey. To protect against moisture, crates may be lined with polythene or the equipment is sealed within a foil moisture barrier bag. When required, equipment may need to be bolted to the base of the crate, or secured using timber bracing and held in place with straps. If the equipment is particularly heavy, the base of the crate will need to be reinforced to ensure that it can take the strain.
On the face of it, preparing crates for shipping may seem like a simple task. But in reality it is a complex task which requires specific expertise. The successful relocation of a piece of machinery rests in large part upon the container in which it will be transported. If the crates aren’t up to standard, the project and the equipment may suffer.
Before the equipment can be loaded into the crates, it may need to be disassembled. Sometimes the customer handles this, sometimes we do it. In some cases, the equipment vendor will supply engineers to disassemble the machinery.
During the site survey the team will assess the disassembly of the machinery, highlight any particular challenges and figure out how long it should take. They will also decide what staff and equipment will be required. Complex disassembly projects often require collaboration between electrical, mechanical and electronics specialists. And heavy machinery can require skates, gantries and even cranes to move.
Disassembling manufacturing machinery can be complex. If the machine is particularly old and has been used for many years, it can be impossible to find instructions for disassembly. In this case, our team will have to figure it out for themselves. Often, with more modern equipment, this information can be found.
As the machinery is taken apart, great care is taken to document, mark and itemise every part of the machine. From the fluid lines through to electrical components, everything is carefully indexed to make sure that it can be easily reassembled at the other end. One small missing part, can undermine the successful functioning of the machinery, which can cause problems for the entire project.
Customers with their own logistics teams sometimes choose to manage the shipping themselves. However, we can also provide it as part of our service. Once the machinery is packed away and the crates are fully secured, they are loaded onto transport using cranes or forklift trucks.
Air travel requires certain security measures to be fulfilled. Staff who are preparing cargo for air travel require special security clearances, all of which our workshop team can provide. Upon arrival, cargo is also X-rayed and swabbed for traces of explosives before it is cleared for take-off. Relocation by sea is usually less stringent.
Once the machinery has reached its destination, reassembly can begin. Where possible, the same team that disassembled the machinery will put it back together. At this point, the care and attention paid during disassembly begins to pay back dividends. The more considered and methodical the taking apart of the equipment was, the easier it will be to put it back together. Once the machinery has been reassembled, the customer will usually run a series of tests to ensure that the equipment is in good working order.
Every project throws up new challenges and obstacles to be overcome. And every such obstacle is a chance to learn and contribute to the body of expertise that we’ve been building since we started trading back in 1991. Following the completion of a project, the team will document the process from start to finish. Any new learnings will be gathered, along with feedback from the team and the customer. These reports are then shared with IES head office where they are added to our ever-growing body of learnings and experience.
Do you have a machinery transport project you want to discuss?
We’ve moved just about every kind of machinery you can name. From incredibly delicate nanofabrication technology to 14 ton-a-piece food packaging equipment. If you’re looking for advice on an upcoming machinery transport job or want to request a quote, you can drop us a line online anytime.