Special knowledge required: Shipping steel and steel products

SteelSpecial knowledge required: Shipping steel and steel products

May it be in a container or break bulk – steel and steel products can be shipped in different ways depending on size and weight. The specific handling of the cargo plays a key role, because each type of steel has its individual characteristics.

Sensitivity, steel texture, shape and weight – amongst other factors – determine the handling. The Karl Gross specialists have decades of experience in shipping steel and steel products. They know exactly what to watch out for.

“Handling shipments of steel and steel products is quite different from handling shipments of other kinds of goods”, Jörg Kutsch, Steel Department Manager at our head office in Bremen, says. “Many factors need to be considered for choosing suitbale methods of the handling and especially transloading for the different products such as steel plates, tubes or coils. Shape, weight, sensitivity and texture are good examples. Cold-rolled products are far more sensitive than hot-rolled ones – to give a specific example. For these it is important to guard them from moisture by all means.

Packaging is where it all begins

Professional shipping of steel and steel products already begins with the right choice of packaging – if packaging is needed. It is important to keep an eye on possible temperature changes that might occur during the product’s journey. Disregarding such factors may result in sensitive goods being damaged during the transport. The result: rust – as a consequence of condensation or salt water. When shipping customized production batches/lots , damage to cargo can have serious consequences – they may even result in production stops”, Jörg Kutsch emphasizes the importance of professional handling.

When shipping steel and steel products it is important to keep an eye of temperature changes.

Manufacturer’s/shipper’s transport regulations

Usually, the manufacturer respectively the shipper has exact regulations on how the goods are to be handled – also with regards to packaging. Besides, there is a possibility that shipments can be supervised by a so-called surveyor, a monitoring expert. “Thereby, the cargo is surveyed regularly and checked for damage”, Jörg Kutch explains. “Manufacturers make use of it quite regularly, as it is their goods which are to reach the destination safely.” Yet such a measure is not necessary for all shipments. If it is however necessary “we recommend and advice our customers in that regard”, our specialist says.

Special equipment is needed wherever steel and steel products are transshipped.

Requirements for transshipping and stowage

Wherever steel and steel products are to be loaded or transshipped special equipment is needed. “Usually this equipment is available at the ports”, Jörg Kutsch says. Cross/lifting beams for long tubes, cranes with magnetic fields for coated tubes and special hooks for coils are examples of special equipment needed to handle the different types of steel products.

There are aspects, however, that need to be considered when loading a vessel. “The storage position on a vessel needs to be chosen depending on the sensitivity of cargo”, Jörg Kutsch explains. Hence, on a vessel moisture-sensitive cargo needs to be stowed in a protected position, for example. Additionally, we need to consider that not all steel and steel products are stackable. Such cargo needs to be stowed by itself without other cargo stacked on top.

Weight limits in the receiving country

Since steel and steel products generally are no ‘flyweights’, weight limits need to be checked and considered for the on-carriage planning, too – especially, when they are to be onforwarded via truck. “Depending on the country different weight limits for road transportation apply”, Jörg Kutsch explains. “The limits can vary quite significantly. While in Germany the weight limit for road transportation is ususally 40 t, in other countries limits may be far lower. And of course, it also depends on the street conditions along the route that should or must be covered.

As a matter of fact: by planning foresightful the on-forwarding in the receiving country, additional costs and delays of delivery can be avoided. “If goods have to be re-packaged to comply with the weight restrictions for the on-warding transport, it costs time and money”, Jörg Kutsch says.

Barge transportation as alternative

An alternative to pre- and on-carriage via truck – depending on the location of consignee – is the transport via barge. “This is an option to avoid long hauls and to circumwent the weight restrictions issue, at least partially”, Jörg Kutsch says. “Concerning our logistics solutions for steel and steel products we keep an eye on all options to be able to offer truely beneficial transport solution to our customers.”


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