Must Know Facts Before Transporting Heavy Machineries

Heavy Machinery has one of the widest variety and is easily mis-declared by importers and exporters. Whether you are a startup or a multinational company trading or transferring heavy machinery on a regular basis, there are few basic details you need to know before planning on transporting your heavy machinery

Oddly shaped machinery proved to be a challenge to transport

Cargo Dimensions

It’s rather obvious that you have to make sure your cargo is able to fit in either a 20 footer container or a 40 footer container. Here are some container dimension references:-

Container TypesInternal LengthInternal WidthInternal HeightMaximum Tonnage
20′ Container5.9m / 19 ft 4 in2.35m / 7 ft 9 in2.39m / 7 ft 10 in22 Ton
40′ Container12.03m / 39 ft 5 in2.35m / 7 ft 9 in2.39m / 7 ft 10 in27 Ton

Different container may have different variation of dimensions, but the table above serves as a good proxy

Normally Heavy Machineries are bulky and have non conforming shapes, so proper stowage begins with prioritizing safety over amount stored per container.

Exporters can breakdown the machinery to smaller parts as much as possible so that the piecemeal cargo can be stuffed and maneuvered in and out of the container with a forklift with ease. Machinery fabricators or manufacturers often put transportation cost into consideration and ensures the machinery products can be shipped in the cheapest way, and the cheapest mode of transportation kilogram to kilogram is most definitely sea transportation. It is very important also to go to lengths to ensure that the cargo can be stored in a container because a container is facilitates intermodal transportation and eases the last mile delivery with trucks and globally standardized trailers. If however, your machinery can’t be stored into a container, the transportation process becomes much more complicated.

Proper stowage plan plays an important role in the transportation of machinery. Exporters have to “stuff” the container with consideration to the importer that they have to unload the cargo safely and with ease. So avoid stacking cargoes with uneven dimensions and always provide proper packing list and stowage plan to the importer if able.

Image Source JW Marine Services

Imagine carrying a tray full of foods and drinks on top of it with one hand. Your natural instinct is to carry it at the center of the tray to ensure even distribution of support around the tray, and also ensuring that you do not embarrass yourself by sliding around trying to catch your falling fried chicken and iced coke. This is equally the same for cargo stowage as well. Equal weight distribution is the key, and a container is most fortified at it’s center. So, place the machinery’s center of gravity exactly at the center of the container, one container. There are many involved parties that ultimately will handle the container before it reaches the destination and it is our duty to ensure the involved parties are safe handling your goods.

One more pertinent thing is to determine if your cargo is considered as Dangerous Goods. The International Maritime Organization uses the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Regulation Code (IMDG) code to classify whether goods are dangerous to ship or not. There are 9 classes of Dangerous Goods, but most commonly, heavy machinery cargoes may be classified as flammable or explosives due to the fact that some machinery may contain flammable liquids in it.

Tariff Codes

To Classify your cargo as a heavy machinery, it must be in Chapter 84 and Chapter 85 of the harmonized system (HS Code) the full description of Chapter 84 is “Nuclear Reactors, Boilers, Machinery & Mechanical Appliances, Computers , Chapter 85 heading is “Electrical Machinery & Equipment & Parts, Telecommunications Equipment., Sound Recorders and Television Recorders.

As you can see from this broad chapter heading description, it covers many machinery types. World Customs Organization (WCO) basically came up with the general rule of classifying products which is globally applied, a.k.a The Interpretative Rule. There are 6 Rules to go through and the rules are hierarchical, meaning to say, if you can classify your cargo with Rule 1, you need not move on to the Rule 2 and so on.

Rule 1. Classification by the Terms of the heading
Rule 2. Classification of articles that are incomplete or unfinished
Rule 3. Classification of goods which, prima facie, fall under two or more headings
Rule 4. Classification of goods in the heading appropriate to the goods which they are most akin.
Rule 5. Classification of cases, boxes and similar containers
Rule 6. Classification in the subheadings of a heading must be determined, ,
mutatis mutandis, (comparing two items making slight changes that doesn’t affect it’s core purpose), with reference to the principles applicable to classification in the 4 digit heading

The guideline can be found in the World Custom’s Organization website

Once you have determined the proper HS Code applicable, it is advisable that you refer your findings relevant governing agencies to check it’s accuracy, and to search in your local customs the relevant import duty, tax and import permit requirements.

There are many more factors to considers in relation to importing and exporting heavy machinery, nevertheless, these 2 important factors are most important and has to be looked at before any other consideration.


Hello! I'm Kelvin, I work as a custom broker and I'm thrilled with having the experience to share my industry knowledge with you. I hope that you enjoy reading them as much as I do posting them.

One thought on “Must Know Facts Before Transporting Heavy Machineries

  1. Sir, May I know how do you read and understand the high volume of emails in a short time. Any provided guidelines that you can share with me? How I can solve the high volume of job load in the logistic industry?
    How do I reply to the customer in the right direction while solving the problem of documentation?

    Thanks & Best Regards

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