Project Cargo: Plan for Success

What is Project Cargo?

Since you are reading this article, it is a pretty safe bet you have some idea of what “project cargo” means—at least to the degree it impacts your particular business or industry. You may be surprised, however, at the scope and breadth of companies served by this specialized approach to transporting large, complex, or high-value pieces of equipment. These industries include:

  • Aerospace and aircraft manufacturing
  • Automotive
  • Industrial manufacturing
  • Oil exploration and refining
  • Mining
  • New sources of energy such as wind turbine, solar farms and geothermal plants

…and everything in between, right down to the delivery of parts for your favorite amusement park ride.

There has also been a boom in the number of international manufacturing sites where these specialized and oversized equipment parts used by these industries are made. Finding the most cost effective and efficient transportation options for project cargo items is more important (and complex) than ever. The following article outlines some points to consider when planning your next project cargo venture.


Advanced planning is crucial to any successful project cargo project. Developing an organized and detailed plan of every step in the process can optimize cost and time savings for shippers while also reducing the risk of unexpected events. While writing a good Plan A is the first step to success, it is also important to have a contingency plan ready to go in the event of unforeseen events.

This all requires a great deal of forethought. Due to the inherent complexities involved with project cargo shipments, especially when international carriers in the mix, allowing for enough time for proper planning and preparation is paramount. Identifying specific steps and processes can help avoid paying too much for transportation, duties, and taxes. Allow for sufficient lead time for planning when considering project needs and deadlines.


Taxes, duties, inspection requirements, special documentation, and other regulations can vary greatly from country to country. While these can be headaches for traditional importer/exporters, regulations surrounding project cargo shipments can be exponentially more complicated. Conducting local market research about documentation and inspection requirements can help determine the financial implications of purchasing and shipping specific components from different countries.

Cargo Design

How your project cargo shipment is transported can sometimes dictate how it is manufactured. Oversized, overweight, or out of gauge dimension cargo, for example may need to be manufactured or broken down into separate units to be reassemble upon delivery. Special care should be taken to ensure the correct type of transport is selected offering clear positioning and stowage. You consider what is in place to protect your shipment from risk of damage en route as well as while it is being lifted and secured. Careful packing can avoid damage from impact and corrosion. Remember to have cargo inspected for damage prior to loading and upon delivery.

Route Optimization

Hand-in-hand with cargo design is optimizing the route project cargo takes from start to finish. The size and shape of your shipment can determine the most efficient and cost-effective mode of transport, be it ocean, air, rail, road, or inland barge—or some combination thereof.

This step in the project cargo journey should take place during the planning stage. Trucking regulations and highway limitations must all be factored into determining the quickest and safest route. If the most direct route as the crow flies (or drives) crosses a bridge incapable of supporting the weight of your shipment, any time savings is negated.

Uncovering potential obstacles as well as obtaining proper clearances and authorizations from various governing agencies along the route should be determined long before transportation begins. For example, when transporting oversized loads over the road, some jurisdictions may require a warning car escort with flashing lights. Other counties may require official police escorts or prior engineering studies of the potential impact on structures along the route.

Finding the Right Partner

Professionals experienced with planning and managing project cargo logistics enjoy a high level of industry experience and connections. The complexity of these types of shipments also requires the highest level of management and organizational skills. Partnering with the right logistics company can help optimize your chances for a successful project cargo delivery. Some qualities you should look for in potential partners include:


How long has your potential partner been in the business? Are they on top of the latest customs, tariffs, trade agreements, and other regulatory requirements?


What type of technology is available to help track documentation, permits, and milestones throughout transit?


What is their track record for communicating at every step of the project cargo journey? Clear communication and transparency are vital to any successful partnership.

Finally, you should seek a logistics partner with a proven track record, experience, and broad international industry knowledge who also has deep experience and knowledge of specialized equipment, local haulers, and other problem-solving sources. 


Project cargo is all about detail-oriented planning and execution. A qualified project cargo logistics provider can help you navigate and optimize each step along the way. Accountability, transparency, pro-active communication, technology, and professionalism should always be at the forefront on any project cargo delivery.

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