How to Correctly Load an Excavator on a Trailer

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In the construction business, moving and hauling your heavy equipment and heavy-duty machinery can be a challenge – especially excavator transport. You must do it carefully and follow each step during the process, and you’ll move your construction equipment successfully.

Excavator Accidents and Hazards

Before jumping onto the step-by-step process of safely loading and hauling an excavator, let’s look at what can go wrong if it doesn’t happen according to the plan. Excavator accidents and hazards are no joke, and a minor mistake can easily result in a fatal accident. So, you have to be very careful while loading and hauling an excavator.

Most accidents involving excavators happen on uneven ground, on the ramp leading onto the trailer, or while on the move. A moving excavator could be dangerous for pedestrians because the weight of the machine and its momentum can be challenging to control.

While working on a slope, the excavator can tip over and fall, injuring the operator and those standing nearby and damaging the expensive construction or landscaping equipment. Occasionally, the excavator operator will pull a lever too hard, causing the bucket to move quickly and with a greater force than necessary. Accidents like this confirm the need to heed the warning to be familiar with the controls of the equipment before attempting to load it on a trailer.

Setting Up Your Trailer for Excavator Shipping

Since loading and transporting construction equipment involves risks, knowing and practicing safety is essential. For instance, you wouldn’t want your equipment to become detached in the middle of a road and take off on its own. So, check everything twice along the way, including the lights, coupler, hitch, pins, hooks, and chain links.

After finishing the assurance checks, you can begin setting up your trailer. Following are a few steps and safety measures for you to follow: When an excavator or a heavy object is put on the top of a trailer bed, the trailer lowers down a little. So, it is better to raise the trailer’s jack to its maximum capacity to avoid any contact with the ground.

  • Put the safety pin in the hitch coupler lock to avoid any risks.
  • Put the chains in such a way that the chances of detachment become minimum. It is always safe to pass the chains through the hitch and crisscross them underneath it to avoid any uncertainty.
  • Do not tighten the chains too much, it can make them easily breakable on a turn when more pressure is applied to them. Not too tight and not too loose – maintain the right balance.
  • Attach the harness of your trailer to your truck and double-check that all the lights of your tow truck, such as indicators, brake lights, and headlights, are working properly.
  • Test the trailer’s electrically operated detachment system. In an emergency, even if the hitch coupler detaches the trailer, the chains keep it intact, bringing it to a controlled stop.

Here are the steps to safely place an oversize load onto a trailer:

Step 1: Choose the Right Trailer for Excavator or Mini-Excavator Shipping

Picking the appropriate equipment trailer is an essential step in the process since one that cannot handle the excavator’s weight poses a severe safety risk. Standard towing and weight-carrying capacities like GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) are assigned to trailers by their manufacturers. GVWR includes the trailer’s weight and the maximum weight it can pull. The weight of the excavator plus the trailer’s weight must not exceed the assigned GVWR. Towing weights heavier than that are unsafe and can result in a fine.

Some of the trailers to choose from include step deck trailers, tilt deck trailers, removable gooseneck trailers, and flatbed trailers. The weight of your mini digger or full-size excavator will help you determine the right trailer for the job.

Step 2: Park on Level Ground

Park on a firm, flat surface to prevent tilting or shifting during loading. Apply the towing vehicle’s parking brake, and place chocks behind the wheels to keep the vehicle and trailer from rolling. Drop the metal loading ramps, having confirmed they are designed to handle the machine’s weight.

Step 3: Clean Your Trailer, Machine, and Ramp

Loaders, skid steers, compact excavators, and other excavators are often packed with debris from the last job. Ensure that the machine and trailer are clean of mud, dirt, and anything else that could fly off and hit other vehicles on the road to the following job site, or use a dump trailer to keep the debris contained while you’re hauling the equipment.

Remember to clean any mud, grease, or debris from the ramp since these could cause the excavator to slide during loading.

Step 4: Start Your Engine and Move Up the Ramps

Once again, don’t move the excavator unless you are thoroughly familiar with all its controls. Now is not the time to grab the wrong handle or hit a foot pedal that moves the machine in an unexpected direction.

Next, line up the excavator with the trailer with the dozer blade, arm, and boom facing the trailer. Check your surroundings, looking for power lines and limbs, and travel up the ramps. Maintain the slowest speed while going up the ramp, and when the machine settles on the trailer bed, position it so its weight is centered right in front of the trailer’s rear axle and centered on the trailer’s width.

Step 5: Lower the Blade and Secure It

Once the excavator is positioned correctly on the trailer, lower the blade and secure it to the trailer’s tie-down points with crossing chains, although do not over-tighten the chains when you use the ratchet binder.

Step 6: Raise the Ramps and Swing the Boom to the Rear

Again, check your surroundings to ensure you’ll clear power lines and trees when you swing the boom. Bring the boom close to the machine before turning it to keep its weight centered on the deck. After you bring the boom around, lower it, and chain it to the trailer bed.

Place chocks behind the machine’s wheels to prevent shifting or rolling, and give the tie-downs one final inspection.

If you have positioned the excavator front-to-back properly, the back of the boom should not extend beyond the end of the trailer. And you can now feel confident under the watchful eyes of the state police at your next weigh-scale stop.

For thorough and professional instruction on loading an excavator, check out the following full video

Author: Justin Tyme
Justin Tyme is a seasoned marketing expert with a focus on the supply chain, logistics, and heavy machinery transportation sectors. He serves as the Senior Director of Marketing at Titan Worldwide, where he manages the company's content marketing strategy and lead generation. You can connect with Justin via his email.
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