Transporting large pressure vessels by road

Transporting the largest pressure vessels by road is a complex task, as regulations on safety, size, weight, and dimensions need to be kept. With tight corners, bridges and tunnels being common obstacles on UK roads, careful route planning, and co-operation with local transport authorities and haulage companies is needed to ensure a safe and legally compliant transit. In this post, we explore some of the most common logistical challenges faced when transporting the largest pressure vessels by road.

Challenges faced in road transportation

Pressure vessels often need to be transported from place to place to locations such as chemical processing plants, oil and gas refineries, energy plants and manufacturing sites. Vessco manufactures and transports some of the UK’s largest pressure vessels, with each road journey having its own unique set of challenges and obstacles. Here are some of the most common challenges we face, and how we overcome them.

Size and weight restrictions

Weight and size limits on British roads tend to be made for lorries and shipping containers. Large pressure vessels often exceed these limits by a long way. In these cases, special permits need to be applied for, as well as route planning. Different county councils will have variations in their rules, so communicating with the authorities in each area the route passes through in advance of the journey is vital. The rules are there to avoid damage to roads and overhead infrastructure, as well as the safety of the general public.

Traffic and congestion

Moving the largest pressure vessels through busy routes can cause disruption to the flow of traffic and cause major inconvenience to other road users. For this reason, it is important to carefully schedule journeys to avoid peak traffic times. Often, these journeys are planned for late at night, and before the morning rush hour traffic when the fewest cars are on the road.

Health and safety

There are many safety procedures that must be followed at all stages of pressure vessel transportation – this is to protect the transport crew, the vehicle, the vessel itself, and other vehicles and drivers on the road. We use specialised equipment, escort vehicles, signs and safety barriers to minimise the risk of accidents, and prevent complications that could put people, vehicles and infrastructure at risk of costly damage.

Loading and unloading

Placing high volume pressure vessels onto transport vehicles and unloading them requires trained staff members, high-tech safety equipment, and always following strict safety and handling procedures. The vessel must be securely attached to the vehicle to eliminate any risk of it falling off or becoming damaged en route.


In advance of the journey, it is required to apply for and obtain a variety of regulations, licenses, approvals and permits from the relevant transport authorities. Staff may need additional training and equipment, different regulatory requirements will need to be followed carefully. Neglecting any of these areas can incur penalties and time-consuming legal problems.

Made by Vessco

Here at Vessco Engineering, we build, transport and install some of the biggest pressure vessels required for chemical processing, energy plants, oil and gas, and other industries. We are experienced in handling the requirements for road transportation and have the required procedures and permits to collaborate with trusted haulage companies across the UK and overseas. To find out more about our products and how we work, click here.