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Sheet Metal Transportation: What You Need to Know

June 14, 2021
 By Heavy Haul and Oversized
Sheet Metal Transportation: What You Need to Know
Last Modified: December 20, 2023
Freight shipping sheet metal comes with a few challenges. See how a strategic shipping partner like Heavy Haul and Oversized can get this essential commodity on the move.

For a variety of diverse jobs, only sheet metal will do. Especially in the automobile and building construction industries, nothing can replace the material’s purpose. Yet, freight shipping sheet metal can be a whole different story. The product is prone to move around somewhat and that concern must be mitigated.

Truthfully, freight shipping sheet metal isn’t a difficult concept but the transporter must take care in its handling to ensure the supplier’s customer receives exactly what it ordered. This means going with an experienced company that knows specifically how the manufactured product must be treated in transit to accomplish that goal on your behalf.

types of sheet metal

Types of Sheet Metal

Before the transportation process begins, being familiar with the different kinds of sheet metal and what it is mainly used for is not a bad place to start. Sheet metal is diverse because it is strong, durable and able to more easily be worked than metals in other forms. Some types of metals that are commonly pressed into sheets are aluminum, steel, nickel, brass, tin, copper and titanium.

The most popular uses of sheet metal are as a roofing material for buildings and as the main component of the bodies of automobiles and aircraft. Medical tables are another common product fashioned out of sheet metal and ornamental or decorative items are also made out of it.

In America, the thickness of sheet metal is indicated by its gauge. This system uses numbers to reflect how thick it is; larger numbers denote a thinner metal while smaller ones mean the sheet is thicker. Conversely, the thickness of sheet metal is measured in millimeters by the rest of the world.

Sheet metal is valued because it is strong and (usually) thin, which makes it more simple to work with. It is also relatively affordable and easier to deal with during installation, which also adds to its attractiveness. Sheet metal can also be coated with tin, in order to make it much more resistant to rust and general corrosion that metals can often be faced with. 

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How Sheet Metal Is Produced

As you can imagine, sheet metal is mass-manufactured in factories or even smaller workshops. Although sheet metal is prized for its workable properties and its production uniformity, there are many different methods used to achieve the desired results:

  • Press brake forming
  • Wheeling
  • Bending
  • Punching
  • Perforating
  • Curling
  • Water jet cutting
  • Decambering
  • Stamping
  • Expanding
  • Hemming and seaming
  • Hydroforming
  • Spinning
  • Incremental sheet forming
  • Ironing
  • Rolling
  • Laser cutting
  • Photochemical machining
  • Rolling
  • Deep drawing

Some of these processes are so the sheet metal in question turns out a certain way. Water jet cutting, for instance, allows the edge quality to be manipulated and can also be used to cut shapes out of sheet metal. Meanwhile, curling is used to smooth out the sheet metal’s rough and sharp edges from the initial process.  

freight shipping sheet metal

How to Freight Ship Sheet Metal

Sheet metal is usually oiled in order to come off the press smoothly and is in either perfectly flat panels or in a coil. While this is great for the manufacturing of sheet metal, it can present unique challenges in the shipping of it.

The basic tenets of how to freight ship sheet metal revolve around restricting its movement during shipping. Due to the smooth nature and process used during its formation, this product can be prone to sliding around, which can cause damage in its own right if in the back of an 18-wheeler. But if the sheet metal requires the usage of a flatbed, that type of movement can actually be dangerous. 

Challenges with Freight Shipping Sheet Metal

In fact, it’s a fine line in being able to secure the load in a way to restrict movement without also potentially damaging the sheet metal before it ever arrives to the end customer. If a customer wants unvarnished, brand new sheet metal, it having any imperfections could render the product unusable or less valuable for their purposes.

Sometimes, damage can be incurred during an attempt to do a great job of securing the load. A real-life example is trying to strap down the sheet metal to a flatbed. If you pull the straps very tightly, you will definitely secure the product to the bed. However, it’s very likely that if too much pressure is applied, the metal will show up to its destination with crimps in it — i.e. the sheet metal now has physical damage to it. 

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Also, the corners of sheet metal can be razor sharp, so whenever people are around it or must handle it in any fashion, thick gloves — leather is a good option — are a must to protect hands from extremely nasty cuts. Long sleeved shirts and pants can also be a good protectant in this regard. Metal easily heats up or can accumulate a film of ice during particularly cold weather, so this should also be taken into account during its loading and unloading.

Another thing shipping sheet metal can encounter is moisture. While sheet metal is rust or corrosion resistant, that is not the same as being rust- or corrosion-proof. When loading and unloading the product, great care should be given in keeping it dry as possible. If water comes into contact with the sheet metal, it might not immediately ruin the product. But every effort should be made to avoid it happening, because completely rust-damaged sheet metal can quickly turn into scrap metal if it can no longer be used for the buyer’s purposes.

Freight Insurance For Sheet Metal

Earlier, it was discussed that sheet metal is a relatively inexpensive option as opposed to other forms of metal. However, that’s not to say that sheet metal doesn’t still hold value, especially when pallets or even an entire truckload are being talked about.

Depending on the type and quantity of the sheet metal, a full truckload could easily be worth tens of thousands of dollars. That’s not even talking about long pieces of premium sheet metal either — a truckload of 20-gauge black stainless steel sheet metal in 4’ by 10’ sheets could push the total value into the hundreds of thousands in retail value.

So if you knew that you couldn’t afford to have your product get wet, scratched, warped or suffer any other kind of damage that would render it useless, wouldn’t you want the option to insure it? If you’re nodding your head while reading this, then there’s good news. A shipper can purchase insurance above and beyond the standard freight liability that the transportation company is required to offer by law. This standard freight liability generally covers a fraction of the value of the cargo and also only kicks in if the freight company is found to be at fault for the damage.

So you can opt to purchase insurance that will cover more potential damage or even fully cover the load to make sure if anything happens during shipping, you’re not left holding the bag for the loss. Either way, it would be third-party insurance that you’re purchasing and you can procure it one of two ways.

The first way is to have the company freight-shipping your order to quote you a rate for it. They can buy it on your behalf and make your life easier after asking you just a few questions and shopping rates for you with their preferred partners. The other way is you can fully shop around for yourself. This allows you to compare rates and terms from multiple companies and handpick exactly what you want. That is not to say the transportation company couldn’t help you do that, but it puts more control into your hands and allows you to completely balance the line between the value of the coverage and the cost to buy it.      

Freight Shipping Sheet Metal With Heavy Haul and Oversized

Freight shipping sheet metal will never be easier when you pick up the phone and contact Heavy Haul and Oversized about your next loads for transportation. As an industry expert in this undertaking, we can efficiently and quickly move this type of freight from any two points in the United States. Whether you require a traditional 18-wheeler or a specialized flatbed carrier, we’ve got you covered.

Heavy Haul and Oversized offers standard freight shipping with the best current practices to ensure your sheet metal makes it to its end point in the same great condition it left the factory or workshop in. Outside of normal shipping, you’re welcome to utilize our expedited shipping if you need your sheet metal transported faster than usual. We can shave a day or two off a cross-country trip with expedited shipping.    

Best in the business customer service is our pleasure to provide to our customers and is also something Heavy Haul and Oversized excels at. Regardless if it’s a simple query or a larger concern on your part, we will strive in each case to exceed your expectations with our response. Part of the outstanding customer service experience we always aim to provide is our commitment to on-time delivery. To this end, we boast a 99.5 percent on-time delivery rate, which can give you the comfort that your sheet metal will arrive at the agreed-upon time and date.

Heavy Haul and Oversized offers additional services for other areas of logistics, in case you’d like to produce sheet metal in advance and have it ready to be transported when a big order comes in. No matter what you need in the transportation and logistics field, we’ve got you covered.

Now that you’re fully prepared to begin freight shipping sheet metal, partner with us at Heavy Haul and Oversized to get the best results in the transportation of your valuable commodities. Call us at (855) 490-2433 for a free quote today.

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