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Shipping steel and aluminum coils Blog Feature
Kevin Baxter

By: Kevin Baxter on March 21st, 2022

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Shipping steel and aluminum coils

Logistics & Supply Chain

Steel and aluminum are building blocks of a wide variety of necessities, from small smartphones that fit in a pocket to literal buildings that scrape the sky. Both these metals are shipped a variety of ways depending on their form, but one form they share in the shipping process is via coil. Mills process steel and aluminum into coils via various heating techniques - often this practice involves hot-rolling - to prepare them for manufacturers to use them as they see fit. This standard preparation means shipping steel and aluminum coils can be a fairly predictable process, but it takes specialization to do it properly and optimize each shipment - as we aren't talking about a slinky here. Add in the weight - as steel is normally two and a half times as dense as aluminum - and it's important to have the right know-how in the shipping process to ensure the steel and/or aluminum coils get to their destination successfully. 

How do steel and aluminum coils get shipped?

Steel and aluminum coils may be shipped via ocean, truck and even intermodal, but especially when it comes to steel, the shipper must consider specialized requirements. Perhaps the biggest of those is weight. If a steel coil weighs more than 3,500 lbs. (and most do), the FMCSA considers it a restricted commodity subject to special regulations. That weight threshold also applies to aluminum coils, which in spite of the lighter material can surpass it too. As a restricted commodity, the shipper is required to enter into an agreement that outlines the liabilities and restrictions, along with the limited liability coverage given to the coil loads. No matter how they're shipped - and whether they are steel or aluminum coils - there are weight maximums to consider, proper tie downs, load balancing, bracing, scaling, loading/unloading equipment, container vs. flatbed, and more. And due to the regulations regarding steel, proper documentation is a must as well.

If any of these factors are either not properly considered or ignored altogether, not only can penalties occur, but so too can damage to the coils and/or the shipping equipment/methods. The costs associated with a non-compliant load and re-working it to be legal include: scaling costs, possible fines, additional freight charges, labor costs to rework the load and other charges incurred to make the load compliant. All of these come at the expense of the shipper. And of course, the bottom line of a shipment arriving late, damaged or not at all have even more far-reaching consequences. There is good news, though. here are plenty of companies who have developed expertise in reliably shipping steel and aluminum coils, and we at InTek happen to be one of them.

Drop us a line about your steel and/or aluminum coil shipping needs, and we'll be happy to discuss the right solutions for your unique scenario. In the meantime, visit our Learning Center to get more background on freight and logistics, and what we do. For now, here are a few articles explaining intermodal and truckload shipping options:

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