How to Ship a CNC Machine

CNC machines are a huge help to any manufacturing operation, and for some industries they’re a flat out necessity. That’s because of their high level of precision and the rate at which they can duplicate parts to the same tight specification tolerances. Often, investing in a used CNC machine is the best choice for the money. It’s especially true when you have a trade-in machine to offload. Sending machines to a dealer or a buyer requires your company to ship them, though, and shipping an expensive piece of manufacturing equipment safely is a skill unto itself.


Handling and Packing


Shipping large items like a used CNC is not like shipping parts or even smaller pieces of equipment that can be easily boxed up or crated. They are often too heavy for traditional skids and fork lifts, requiring crane service or other specialized equipment to move. They are also typically quite large and sturdy, so wrapping and padding them is not as much of an issue as it would be for, say, a desktop computer.


You may still want spacers and bumper buffers around them if they are not being shipped alone, but the real issue is less about how you pack the machine than it is about how you transport it.


How To Ship a CNC Machine


Whether you use your own truck, put it onto a trailer owned by the buyer, or you hire an outside transportation company, you’ll need to select the right trailer to take your old CNC to its new home before you receive the one you’re purchasing. The reason trailer selection is so important is because there are maximum payload dimensions for overland transportation in the U.S. and Canada, so unless you want to file for special permits, you need to pair the trailer and machine to stay under those dimensions.


In the United States, those limits are 8’6″ wide and 13’6″ tall. The height of the trailer itself counts. That means when you use a traditional flatbed that sits five feet off the ground, you only have 8’6″ of usable height to work with. If your machine is taller than that, you can opt for a step deck or double drop to gain more usable height. When you work with a used CNC dealer who buys and sells nationally, this might not be an issue because they may be able to arrange appropriate pickup transportation for you. It’s definitely an issue for anyone with a used CNC machine for sale by the owner, though.


Shopping for CNC Upgrades

Once you’ve figured out what to do with the old equipment, it’s time to figure out where you’ll find your upgrade purchase. Investing in a new machine could give you decades of top-tier performance with a machine that has all of today’s best features, but it also tends to be quite expensive. For larger models, even older used CNC machines can run to the hundreds of thousands of dollars. If a small business or even a medium-sized company needs to purchase a whole shop full of upgrades at once, it’s pretty much par for the course to be priced out of an all-new lineup.


Speaking practically, most shops don’t need a new CNC. For the vast majority of today’s manufacturing operations, a model that’s a decade or two old is still precise enough to handle jobs with tolerances to a couple hundredths of an inch. Of course, the older models might have fewer operations they can consolidate into one process or a slightly slower run time than the newer ones. Compare them to what you’re replacing, though. If you can increase your productive capacity even 10 or 20 percent across the board, isn’t that better than investing in a single new machine that only improves one workstation, no matter how big the improvement? There’s no right answer, it’s just something to think about as you shop.


Contact the experts at Premier Equipment anytime with questions!

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