Eastern Europe Shipping Blog

Expert tips on smarter shipping between the U.S. and Eastern Europe, including shipping of heavy goods.

Case study: Oversize cargo transportation, minus the pain

If you had to move a huge piece of machinery overseas, would you know what to do? Here’s how one shipper, with no prior experience, solved its oversize cargo transportation puzzle with just one phone call.

The challenge

A manufacturer in Poland arranged through an equipment broker to buy a CNC (computer numerical control) machine. This is a large, programmable machining tool used to process wood, metal or other materials. The used system, owned by a company in Maine, cost about $105,000.

oversize cargo transportationAccording to the terms of the deal, the buyer in Poland was responsible for transporting the CNC machine from the factory in Maine, where the machine was presently being used, to its own facility. This was no simple job.

The machine came in two pieces, one of them 188” long x 106” wide x 110” tall, the other 36” x 84” x 52”. Those dimensions made it oversize (or out of gauge) cargo that, once crated, was about the size of a large excavator.

Oversize cargo requires special arrangements, including permits for transportation on the road and special equipment for the ocean crossing.

The buyer had to figure out how to get the machine out of the factory in Maine, pack it safely for the overseas trip, book it on a ship, get it to a port, retrieve it from the port in Poland and then transport it to the company’s own facility.


Local partner with a long reach

No one at this Polish company knew how to pull off such a complex move. Luckily, someone at the manufacturing facility took the right first step, placing a call to I.C.E. Transport’s office in Gdynia, Poland.


Read our Ultimate Guide to Shipping   Heavyweight and Oversized Freight


With decades of experience managing international moves from both sides of the Atlantic, I.C.E. Transport had the expertise this shipper needed to manage its oversize cargo transportation without a hiccup. I.C.E. Transport also offered access to other partners with the specialized skills and equipment to handle each step of the move.


Lifting, packing, crating

For the first stage of the journey, I.C.E.’s U.S. office hired a rigging company in Maine to remove the machinery from the seller’s factory. The company brought portable cranes, forklifts and all the other equipment needed to lift the machinery out of the building and load it on a truck for transportation to the rigging company’s warehouse.

There, employees used a heat shrinking process to seal the machinery in plastic, removing air and moisture to protect the sensitive electronics. As an extra precaution against moisture, they added packets of desiccant. Then they built a crate to contain the two pieces of machinery.

Since larger loads cost more to transport, the company built the crate just big enough for the cargo, with no wasted space. It used lumber that was heat-treated to guard against invasive insects, with special markings to verify this precaution. If the company had not used treated wood, a Customs inspector in Poland could have refused the cargo entry.

The rigging company also wrapped the top third of the crate with tarps, to protect it from rain and ocean water.

At 9’ (108”) wide, the crate needed an oversize permit for the next leg of its journey, to I.C.E.’s warehouse in Edison, N.J. And at 11’ high, it might have needed an overheight permit as well, and maybe special routing to avoid obstacles such as low overpasses. Luckily, the rigging company provided a trailer that rode closer to the ground than a standard trailer, eliminating any height-related issues.


Ready for the ocean

At the warehouse in Edison, I.C.E. coordinated with a second partner that sent a driver to the Port of New York and New Jersey for a 40’ flat rack container, then used its own overhead crane to load the crate onto that equipment. Workers blocked, braced and lashed the load in the container according to standards set by the National Cargo Bureau (NCB).

Since a flat rack container has no side walls, it’s crucial to follow the NCB guidelines. Otherwise, the load could shift in transit and possibly tip over the edge. Before a shipping line loads a flat rack container onto its vessel, it orders an NCB inspection. If the container fails, the shipper must have the load re-secured, causing delays and creating extra costs.

Because the process followed NCB guidelines, when the container arrived at the port, it passed inspection with no trouble and was loaded right onto the ship.

The container made an uneventful ocean crossing. In Poland, I.C.E. Transport’s customs office in Gdynia provided the paperwork needed to clear the load through Customs. The I.C.E. Transport office in Gdynia arranged for a trucker to deliver the flat rack container to the buyer’s facility, where the buyer had the CNC machine unloaded and installed.


Questions about oversize cargo transportation

Although it didn’t know the first thing about how to ship an oversize load, the buyer in Poland got its CNC machine with very little effort and no trouble. Imagine the uncertainties it would have faced if it had tried to organize this move in-house.

How would it find a company capable of removing a huge piece of machinery from an overseas factory? How many phone calls would it take to find a truck to get that machine to a port? Who could pack the load to travel safely on the water? What if the cargo arrived in Poland in the wrong kind of crate and Customs turned it away? How do you make all those arrangements across thousands of miles, in a foreign language, and then make sure everyone performs each step correctly and on time?

The shipper didn’t have to worry about any of that, because it trusted the job to an expert in out of gauge cargo shipping. For the shipper in Poland, there was just one number to call and one invoice to pay.

Do you need to ship an oversized load? Leave the details to the specialists, so your own people can focus on the work they do best. To learn more, contact I.C.E. Transport.

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