Shipping Long, Curved, Steel Segments Via Common Carrier

Benders and Rollers seem to be shipping a higher volume of longer, curved, steel section segments via common carrier.  Generally, shipping a segment that is less than 20’ and rolled to a large radius is not a problem. However, once the arc length including tangents and drop offs reaches the 20’ length, and especially if the radius is tight, it becomes increasingly difficult to ship these in a box trailer.  This difficulty is exacerbated once there are 3 or more orders of the same size needing to ship on the same day.  This creates a serious limitation in capacity for shipping larger segments.

Short Steel Sections Curved to a Large Radius can be Shipped in a Van

Here are some guidelines that will aid in the efficiency and flexibility of shipping segments on a common carrier.

1.      Trim everything that is shipping via common carrier. If you know (or you can determine) the usable arc length of the material, it needs to be trimmed.  There is a big difference shipping a piece that is 16’ “good arc trimmed,” vs. “untrimmed” or “not trimmed.” Also keep in mind that it is the general practice of machine operators to leave at least 1 to 2 feet of length extra when trimming.  Which means a piece that is 19’ good arc, rolled out of a 25’ straight piece will be 22’ to 23’ in length.

2.      Multiple piece orders, with multiple orientations and multiple radii must ship via flatbed when the arc length is over 10’ and the rise is over 4’ after trimming.

3.      Multiple piece pipe orders such as 2”, 6”, or larger, need to ship via flatbed unless they are trimmed short enough to be packaged on a standard size skid.  Bundles of pipes do not hold together when being moved from truck to truck with a fork lift.

4.      Aluminum, polished #4 stainless, or anything that can be easily damaged needs to ship via flat bed when it is too large to be skidded.

5.      Stringers rolled to a tight radius and pitch are also difficult to ship on a box trailer, especially multiple piece orders.

It cannot be assumed that just because the pieces are 20’ long that they can ship via common carrier. The number of common carriers that will readily pick up material over 12’ to 14’ in length is limited; there is a much longer list of common carriers who refuse to pick up anything over 12’ long. In many cases, the best solution for shipping the curved steel sections described above is to use a flat bed trailer.


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