The transportation, handling and installation of heavy items which are indivisible, and of weights generally accepted to be over 100 tons and of widths/heights of more than 100 meters. These oversized items are transported from one place to another (sometimes across country borders) then lifted or installed into place. Characteristic for heavy lift goods is the absence of standardization which requires an individual transport planning.
Generators, turbines, reactors, boilers, towers, casting, heaters, presses, locomotives, boats, satellites, military personnel and equipment. In the offshore industry, parts of oil rigs and production platforms are also lifted; some of these are also removed at the end of an installation's working life. Recent notable lifts have included several of >2000 short tons in the de-commissioning of the North West Hutton oil field in the (British sector of) the North Sea.
To transport heavy lift items special trucks or trailers (flatbeds) are used, which are especially suitable due to their large loading area and capacity. For airlift special large-volume cargo aircraft like the Antonov An-225 are employed which can move up to 250 tons of freight. On inland waters barges are often used. Sealift is carried out by special heavy lift vessels which often possess own cranes for loading and discharging cargo. Transportation of heavy lift items ranks among the most challenging and complex services in logistics and is handled by specialized companies.
A heavy-lift ship is a vessel designed to move very large loads that cannot be handled by normal ships. They are of two types: semi-submerging vessels capable of lifting another ship out of the water and transporting it; and vessels that augment unloading facilities at inadequately equipped ports.
In the 1920s, the Bremen-based shipping company DDG Hansa saw a growing demand of shipments for assembled locomotives to British India. That led to the construction of the world's first heavy lift vessel, SS Lichtenfels with a 120 t (118 long tons; 132 short tons) derrick. After World War II, DDG Hansa became the world's largest heavy lift shipping company. In terms of lifting capacity it reached its peak in 1978 with refitting the Japanese built bulk carrier MV Trifels with two 320 t (315 long tons; 353 short tons) Stülcken derricks. Shortly after that, in 1980, DDG went bankrupt. With that, only the Dutch shipping companies Jumbo, BigLift Shipping (until 2001 named Mammoet Shipping) and SAL Heavy lift were left as heavy lift shipping specialists.