Avoid These Mistakes When Shipping OOG Cargo

Transporting oversize cargo, also known as out-of-gauge (OOG) cargo, is a highly specialized discipline. Without a thorough understanding of the process, you could end up wasting significant time and money, or even breaking the law. Here are six major mistakes to avoid when shipping OOG cargo.

1. Hiring a Trucker Without OOG Specialization

Only a minority of trucking companies specialize in transporting oversize cargo. While some may claim they can handle your load, do they truly have the necessary equipment to move your freight safely, legally, and cost-efficiently? Are they knowledgeable about the permit requirements for oversize cargo? Do they know how to perform a route survey to avoid hazards such as low overpasses?

A trucking company lacking solid experience with out-of-gauge loads can lead to numerous issues, including cargo damage, transportation delays, or even highway accidents that might result in legal trouble. Choosing a trucker without the proper specialization can steer you into all kinds of problems, making it crucial to select a provider with proven expertise in handling OOG cargo.

2. Providing Insufficient Information About Your Load to Your Logistics Provider

The specifications of a large item determine the equipment needed for transport and how it should be loaded and secured. Accurate dimensions and weight are also crucial for obtaining state permits required for over-the-road transportation. For instance, if a permit states the load is 120 inches tall, but the trucker discovers it’s actually 130 inches, you may have to spend extra time and money redoing the permits.

If the trucker misses this error, an inspector at a weigh station might catch it, potentially sidelining the truck for hours or even days until new permits are issued. Additionally, port crews might mishandle the load due to incomplete specifications.

Failing to provide your transportation service provider with precise measurements, along with technical drawings or photographs when possible, is a significant mistake. Accurate information is essential to avoid costly delays and ensure the safe handling of your OOG cargo.

3. Failing to Account for Weight Distribution

According to a federal requirement called the Bridge Gross Weight Formula, the heavier an oversize load, the longer the chassis you need, with more axles to distribute the weight. This ensures that the load doesn’t exert excessive force on the highway. If a truck carrying your OOG freight pulls into a weigh station and the weight isn't correctly distributed over the axles, an inspector might pull it off the road, regardless of whether the permit shows the right dimensions and weight.

Weight distribution is particularly challenging when shipping factory equipment, construction machinery, or other large items with irregular shapes and uneven weight distribution.

4. Allowing the Load to Obstruct Container Corners

When using an open top, flat rack, or platform container to ship OOG cargo by sea, cranes must attach to the container's corners to lift it on and off the vessel. If your load obstructs any of the corners upon arrival at the port, it will be refused. This means you'll need to transport the cargo to a nearby facility to attempt a reconfiguration, or more likely, unload the freight so the trucker can return the empty container to the port and rebook the cargo on a RO-RO (roll-on/roll-off) ship.

This highlights the importance of considering the size and shape of your OOG cargo before booking. Some OOG cargo simply doesn’t fit on any kind of container. To avoid wasting time and money, carefully evaluate whether a flat rack or RO-RO is the best option early in the planning process.

5. Incorrectly Securing the Load

Properly securing oversize cargo during transport is crucial to prevent shifting, which can lead to damage or even cause a highway accident. Shippers typically use straps and often chains, along with lumber to fill empty spaces, depending on the weight, size, and shape of the cargo.

This process becomes particularly critical when shipping oversized cargo on a flat rack container. Before loading onto a vessel, an inspector ensures the cargo is securely blocked and braced according to standards set by the National Cargo Bureau (NCB). Failing this inspection means additional costs for rework and potential delays that could cause you to miss your scheduled sailing.

6. Using Ocean Containers for Last-Mile Transportation

Transporting oversize cargo all the way to its final destination on an open container, flat rack, or platform can incur extra costs. The trucking company will charge for returning the empty container to the port, unless the final destination is very close by. In most cases, it’s more cost-effective to transfer the cargo to a truck chassis for the final leg of the journey, especially if the distance is significant.

These steps are essential to ensure the efficient and safe transport of oversize cargo, minimizing costs and logistical challenges along the way.

How to Avoid Issues with OOG Freight

Transporting OOG cargo carries inherent risks. Even a small oversight can lead to significant consequences—delays at weigh stations, rejection at ports, unexpected costs, or legal complications. However, many companies successfully ship oversize cargo daily by understanding the process thoroughly, meticulously planning transportation, and executing plans flawlessly.

If you lack in-house expertise, partnering with a specialized freight forwarder like TRT International can be invaluable. Such partners understand the complexities, evaluate all options, and help navigate potential pitfalls to ensure successful and cost-effective shipments.

For assistance with your next OOG shipment, contact TRT International today.

Jun 20th 2024

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