Moving machinery is a complex and challenging task that requires careful planning, preparation, and execution. Whether you are relocating your factory, upgrading your equipment, or transporting heavy tools to a project site, you need to consider several factors to ensure a safe and efficient move. SFMS always suggests you used a skilled rigger for your machinery move, and if needed we can recommend one for you. Here are five critical factors to consider when moving machinery.

Clean out all liquids and waste

Before moving any machinery, you should make sure that it is clean and free of any liquids or waste that could spill, leak, or contaminate the environment. Liquids and waste can include oil, fuel, coolant, lubricant, grease, dust, chips, swarf, debris, or any other substances that are used or produced by the machinery. Cleaning out all liquids and waste will prevent potential hazards such as fire, explosion, corrosion, pollution, or damage to the machinery or the transport vehicle. You should also drain any tanks, pipes, hoses, or reservoirs that contain liquids and dispose of them properly according to the local regulations. You can use absorbent materials, such as rags, towels, or pads, to wipe off any residual liquids or waste from the machinery. Be aware that it is illegal for a carrier to knowingly transport used oils, including hydraulic oil, across state lines without the proper permitting and you can be assured that any fines they receive as a result of your lack of due diligence will come back to you. 

Ensure all axis are properly locked and blocked

Another important factor to consider when moving machinery is to ensure that all axis are properly locked and blocked. Axis refers to any moving parts of the machinery that can rotate, slide, tilt, or swing. For example, an axis can be a spindle, a chuck, a table, a carriage, a blade, or an arm. Locking and blocking the axis means securing them in place using bolts, clamps, pins, wedges, or other devices that prevent them from moving during transit. Preferably using the original manufacturers brackets the were shipped on the machine from the factory. This will protect the machinery from vibration, shock, or displacement that could cause misalignment, wear and tear, or damage to the axis or other components. You should also remove any loose parts or accessories that could detach or fall off during the move.

If it moves in production it shouldn’t in shipping

A general rule of thumb when moving machinery is that if it moves in production it shouldn’t in shipping. This means that you should immobilize any parts of the machinery that are designed to move during operation but not during transportation. For example, if your machinery has wheels, casters, rollers, or tracks that allow it to move on the floor or on rails during production, you should lock them or lift them off the ground when shipping. This will prevent the machinery from rolling or sliding on the transport vehicle and causing instability or accidents. You can use chocks, blocks, jacks, straps, chains, or other devices to secure the wheels or tracks of the machinery.

Cover and protect all controls and monitors

One more factor to consider when moving machinery is to cover and protect all controls and monitors. Controls and monitors are any parts of the machinery that allow you to operate it or display its status. For example, controls can be switches, buttons, levers, knobs, or pedals, and monitors can be screens, gauges, meters, or indicators. Covering and protecting the controls and monitors will help prevent them from being accidentally smashed, damaged, or tampered with during transit. You can use plastic wrap, tape, cardboard, or foam to cover and protect the controls and monitors of the machinery.

Use a suitable means of transport

The last but not least factor to consider when moving machinery is to use a suitable means of transport. Depending on the size, weight, shape, and destination of your machinery, you may need to choose between different modes of transport. You should also consider the availability, cost, speed, and safety of each mode of transport. In almost every case the carrier should be using air ride trailer and every component be tarped to protect it from the elements. Never should you ship a machine using a freight carrier using a van or box truck which can mean the machine is unloaded and reloaded at multiple depots throughout its journey. Using these types of carriers assures the recipient will received a damaged machine.

Whichever mode of transport you use, you should ensure that it has enough space and capacity to accommodate your machinery without overloading or exceeding the legal limits. 

You can read more about Transporting Machinery in our other articles dedicated to shipping machinery linked here.

Moving machinery is not a simple task, but by following these five critical factors, you can make it easier and safer for yourself and others. Remember to clean out all liquids and waste, ensure all axis are properly locked and blocked, immobilize any parts that move in production but not in shipping, cover and protect all controls and monitors, and use a suitable means of transport. By doing so, you can avoid potential hazards and damages and ensure a smooth and successful move.

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