How to Ship a Crane (And Some of the Challenges)

Insight - 45 Min read

December 11, 2023

In the loading and shipping industry, it's not uncommon to find a crane being shipped. A crane has many different parts, each of which needs to be carefully assessed and packaged to ensure they arrive in one piece. This post will explore why people ship so many cranes together, the common types of cranes, the factors to consider when shipping a crane, and some of the challenges associated with shipping a crane.

Why Do People Have to Ship Cranes?

Generally, there are several reasons why you may need to ship a crane. These include:

Placement in Another Geographic Location

One reason you may need to ship a crane is if it's purchased by someone who needs to transport or have it shipped to them in another country or even another state or province. In these cases, the crane will typically be transported on a lift truck.

Crane Replacement

If the crane you currently have is old and no longer able to work, you may need to purchase a new one. Even though most cranes can last for a couple of decades, it's still possible that something may go wrong.


There are times when you may need to replace your current crane with another one that has more enhanced features. For example, some cranes can lift heavier loads compared to older models. To do this, you must first get rid of an older crane or purchase a newer one to make way for expansion or improvements elsewhere on the job site.

Crane Repair

If you discover a problem with your crane, you will probably need to ship it in for repairs or replace specific components that are already damaged or worn out.

New Site Installation

If you are planning on building a new work site or expanding your current one, you will need to secure or obtain a new crane as part of the construction or expansion process.

Common Types of Cranes

There are many different types of cranes available to clients in the industry today, each with different specifications and unique characteristics that distinguish them from other cranes.

Tower Cranes

Tower cranes lift heavy materials and equipment into place for building, construction, or other projects. Giant tower cranes can reach heights of up to 400 feet, but the majority of tower cranes top out around 250 feet. Tower cranes are shipped using flatbed trucks since they are too tall to accommodate a load into standard semi-trailer trucks.

Mobile Cranes

Mobile cranes are used in several ways, from lifting equipment onto heavy machinery to assisting in building construction or demolition. Mobile crane transport operations also include high-capacity lifts. The average lift capacity for a mobile crane transportation move is between 4,500 and 5,500 pounds. Mobile cranes are also shipped using semi-trailer trucks. These cranes are typically much longer than tower cranes.

Boom Cranes

Boom cranes are the workhorse of many industrial settings. These cranes can operate in various ways, but the most common are boom-on-boom and boom-off-boom. Boom-on-boom designs have one long arm that moves forward while the other arm rotates to provide a lift capability. The boom arm will extend out from the side of the crane, providing a better range of movement. Boom-off-boom cranes have two tracks, one for the crane itself and another for the boom. Standard trailers for shipping boom truck cranes can include removable goosenecks, flatbeds, and low-boys.

All-Terrain Cranes

These cranes are used in various construction settings, including mines or building sites with unstable terrain. These cranes require additional power to efficiently perform specific job tasks, like lifting or traveling over rugged terrain. All Terrain cranes are shipped using semi-trailer trucks, and some may need to be shipped on specialized trailers designed for rough terrain operation.

Industrial Cranes

Industrial cranes are used in industrial and construction settings, including factories, where they lift heavy items or place them in specific locations. These cranes are usually gigantic and can reach incredibly high altitudes. They can also be very heavy and can require additional trucks or ground support vehicles to transport them.

Crawler Cranes

Crawler cranes enable workers to operate in areas that would otherwise be inaccessible. Some crawler cranes have a hydraulic lift system, which allows them to be controlled remotely by drivers and vary their height while in motion, while other crawler cranes can also be remotely controlled. There are various ways to ship a crawler crane, including semi-trailer trucks and special trailers for rough terrain.

Factors to Consider During Crane Shipping: Crane Transport Services

Several factors need to be taken into consideration when shipping a crane. The entire process can vary depending on the type of crane and its purpose. However, some general guidelines apply to most cranes. Here is a list of items that should be considered when shipping a crane:


All of the wheels and components of a crane can weigh up to 1500 pounds. As a result, they must be carefully packed and placed to prevent the drivers using to deliver them from tumbling or sliding out of their trucks.

Most cranes are shipped loaded with additional equipment and services like lights, break-away hooks, and electrical systems. If you're transporting a crane assembly on its own, you'll also want to factor these items and services into your delivery plan.

Type of Crane

Different types of cranes require different shipping methods. The best way to ship a crane depends on the kind of work it does. For example, stacking them closely together is ideal if you are shipping a crane that will be used for moving heavy equipment around, such as a forklift or mobile cranes. If you're shipping other types of cranes, like derricks or boom-and-boom cranes, it's best to place them in separate boxes, so they don't get out of balance.

Transportation Costs

If you're shipping a crane assembly, you'll need to make sure that the company is aware of any weight restrictions or regulations associated with shipping container deliveries and the route they will be taking. If an overweight fee applies to the delivery, you will want to ensure that it is included in the price of shipping a crane assembly before it arrives at its final destination.

Map the Route

The next step in the crane shipping process is to talk with the person picking up the crane. When you're talking about taking a crane from one place to another, you'll want to map out a route that will be as efficient and safe and timely delivery of as possible. Route mapping involves avoiding potholes, bridges, and other detours, which may cause your crane to break, fall over, or get damaged.

Other Shipping Considerations

When shipping a crane, you'll want to factor in adequate time for other aspects of the crane transportation process. For example, some cranes ship better in certain weather conditions than others. If you'll be shipping a crane during an unusual season, or if the weather is going to be bad at the time of delivery, it may be advisable to schedule your delivery for a different time of year.

Challenges of Shipping A Crane

There are several challenges associated with shipping a crane, including:

Weight Restrictions

Many shipping routes have weight restrictions that must be considered, especially if you're shipping cargo on a flatbed truck. If you're shipping something like a boom-and-boom crane, it may require a flatbed trailer capable of carrying more weight than a standard truck could handle. You must balance and manage the loads, so they don't tip or fall over while transported.

Distance Restrictions on Crane Transport

In some cases, the delivery or shipment process may involve construction crane traveling over large distances. If this is the case, you'll want to ensure that your shipping company includes a transit time in their quote. Having distance restrictions in mind will give you an estimate of when the crane will safely arrive at its final destination.

Weather Restrictions

Shipping containers with a crane during harsh weather can sometimes be difficult and challenging for shipping companies. If the weather is going to be bad at the time of delivery, it's best to schedule the delivery for a different time of year.

Length Restrictions

The length of the crane may also have an impact on the shipping process. If your crane is longer than the typical length a shipping or trucking company allows, you'll have to consider this when working out the logistics partner for your delivery plan.

Shipping Costs

Shipping a crane is expensive, so it's essential to ensure you're getting it delivered at the best rate possible. Delivery costs vary widely, depending on what type of crane you're shipping, the origin, and the destination. To get the most accurate quote and timely delivery anywhere, you'll want to work with a freight broker or freight service specializing in shipping cranes.

Delivery Period

If you're shipping something like a boom-and-boom crane, it may require a flatbed trailer capable of carrying more weight than a standard truck could handle. If this is the case, you'll want to ensure that the length of your delivery plan is sufficient to factor this into the freight cost equation.


Shipping a crane is not always simple, but keeping your business moving forward is essential. If you're shipping a crane, it's important to take the time to understand the process and to ensure that everything runs as smoothly as possible. If you're interested in learning more about how we can help with your next crane shipment, give us a call or fill out our contact form today! We'd love to speak with you.

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