Rolling plates, that are 30 to 45ft long, will produce challenges not only for the steel plate rolling itself but also for shipping the material. Depending on the diameter and the thickness of the material, as the plate passes through the forming rollers it will – if not supported properly—under the force of gravity just “relax” back to a straight flat plate. Using the jargon of the shop floor, during the plate rolling, the plate was “broken” but did not hold its “set.” Typically, if the plate did not have gravity working against it, it would more easily conform to the desired radius. A solution to this plate rolling problem is to use some device to support the plate, either from above by a crane, or from below by an auxiliary roller. Some plate rolls have support rollers built into the frame for this purpose. Other plate rolls have a vertical orientation to combat the effects of gravity.
Once the plates are rolled, however, there is also the issue of how to ship them without their losing their radius. A built up support in the middle of a 40 or 45ft flatbed can be used to ensure the plate does not lose its form. The plate would be placed on the trailer convex to the sky.
Alternately, two built up supports can be secured at the ends of the flat bed. In this case the plate would be placed on the trailer concave to the sky. We at Chicago Metal Rolled Products call the first method “frowny face” and the second “smiley face.”
Needless the say, the most critical factor in handling, forming and shipping long plate is safety. It is incumbent upon all involved that all equipment is in proper working order—plate rolls, cranes, chains, clamps, supports, flatbeds, etc.–and that all operators are following proper safety procedures. Done right, rolling and shipping long plate can reduce the number of welds in a project, can provide a more aesthetically pleasing product, and can otherwise save time and money in most applications.