05/03/2023 by Christine Morris
Stone materials are very versatile and often used in industries like construction, interior decorating, and landscaping. However, transporting stone can be a difficult task for many reasons. Stone materials can be heavy and bulky and yet surprisingly fragile at times and easy to chip or crack. Just as there are various uses of stone, there are just as many challenges to shipping it. If you’re a shipper handling stone material, bookmark this guide for all you need to know about stone transport.
When arranging stone transport, you need to consider the type and shape of the stone material you are shipping. Stone materials can be in the shape of slabs, blocks, bricks, tiles, or crushed stone. Each shape and type of stone material requires different handling to be shipped safely and securely.
Stone materials are used across many industries. Stone is commonly used as:
With such a wide variety of use, it’s no surprise that stone transport often occurs across long distances.
Proper packing and packaging materials are very important for stone transport. Packaging stone materials the wrong way can lead to damaged product upon arrival.
Smaller stone materials, like tile, can be packed in crates with foam material for cushioning to prevent any scraping or breaking. The crate shouldn’t be too large, with minimal extra space to limit the movement of your stone product. Make sure not to stack the stone material too high or load them vertically. Using short stacks or horizontal loading will help with structural integrity.
For larger stone materials, like granite slabs, palletizing is another option, and the stone product should be wrapped around and between with cushioning to prevent scraping or chipping.
Certain pieces of stone materials will need more equipment than others.
For smaller stone material shipments, a 53’ dry van can work for most, especially those shipping less-than-truckload (LTL) and packaged in crates. Stone shipments can be loaded using a loading dock and forklift. If a loading dock isn’t available, a lift gate can be used, but this additional service costs extra and makes it more difficult to find an available truck. Generally, palletized stone shipments are not recommended for LTL unless there are plenty of packing materials wrapping the product.
If you’re shipping large pieces of stone, like granite slabs, you’re going to need to find a flatbed with an A-frame to securely hold it. An A-frame is a piece of wood or metal shaped into the letter “A” and is needed to transport stone slabs to prevent damage. Stone slabs are prone to breaking or cracking when moved horizontally, so the A-frame helps prevent any damage.
Before the granite slab or other stone material can be loaded onto the truck, the A-frame must be placed on the flatbed with a forklift or crane. When it’s ready to move, make sure that the material is secure and strapped in. Moving straps help prevent the stone material from shifting during transportation, preventing damage, and reducing any risk.
Don’t make the straps too tight because doing so could cause damage upon delivery. Everything should be checked thoroughly before transport to make sure a costly incident doesn’t happen when moving over the road.
Intermodal containers can also be an option for stone transport. Not only do these containers reduce the need for any excessive handling and thus, the chance for damage, but many popular bulk stone products used in the U.S. are mined from locations far away from the country, making this an ideal mode for global stone supply chains. When the stone material is ready to head to its destination, drayage carriers can transport the container or freight can be loaded onto a flatbed for its final stretch of travel.
One of the other main challenges with stone transport is it can be heavy, and sometimes oversized, like those granite slabs we mentioned earlier. Often with stone shipments, you’ll find that you need to get an oversize or overweight permit to travel on state highways.
Most often, the state’s Department of Transportation (DOT) issues these permits, but sometimes they can be handled by another department, depending on the state. These permits are only good for a short window and are the only time your shipment can be on the road. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you have all your ducks in a row, so your shipment stays on schedule, and you don’t end up with a costly violation fee.
Each state has different regulations on its specifics, but most shipments will be considered oversized if it exceeds 80,000 pounds gross weight or if dimensions exceed:
Overweight and oversized shipments can be more comprehensive as, besides the permits, you may need oversized banners, flashing lights, civilian escorts, police escorts, route surveys, bucket trucks, or even a road closure. It’s important that you always take the time to double-check that you’re in compliance with DOT rules and regulations for your stone transport.
Looking for one place to find all you need to know about oversized shipment regulations?
Crushed stone can easily be transported using a container. A freight truck pulling an empty container can be used and loaded on site, or the crushed stone can be packed into a shipping container and then loaded onto the truck with the help of a crane.
It’s important to note that unless covered, the top of the container will still be exposed during transportation. If uncovered and depending on the kind of crushed stone, sometimes some stone material can fly out of the container during transportation, resulting in damages, injuries, or loss of product. For this reason, it’s often best to have your motor carrier cover and secure the top of the container with a tarp.
Unlike crushed stone, shipping bricks or tiles need more careful handling. Palletizing or banding into cubes is the best way to transport these stone materials. However, you can’t pack them the same as other products due to their ease of chipping or cracking during transit.
When packing stone bricks or tiles, it’s best to stack them with layers of cardboard or foam between the layers of the product, cushioning them and preventing any scraping, scratching, or other damage. When banding into cubes, usually the last two cubed loads are placed on rubber mats to further prevent them from shifting.
Additionally, it’s recommended to avoid shipping these products via less-than-truckload (LTL). These stone materials are brittle and susceptible to damage from other products, but also hazardous to other items should they come loose during shipping. To keep your stone products safe, it’s always best to ship full truckload whenever possible.
While nearly indestructible once installed, slabs of granite and similar stone material are quite fragile during transit. Any incorrect handling can result in damage. Like glass, these stone materials will likely crack if laid vertically. Transporting heavy slabs of stone, like granite transportation, requires specialized equipment to keep them vertical during transit.
You’ll need an A-frame to hold up the heavy slabs of stone and make sure they are secured with durable straps. When properly supported, slabs of stone can be sturdy and resistant to cracking.
Let’s say you need to transport an irregularly shaped stone product, like statues or headstones. Certain products might have sharp corners that can easily chip or have smooth surfaces you don’t want to be scratched, like memorials. It can be tough to figure out how to ship these unusual stone materials.
The best option to transport these stone products safely is to order custom packaging for them, like a sturdy box with Styrofoam pieces sculpted to fit around it so your product is secured from any movement during transit.
As with shipping tile, it’s best to ship full truckload instead of LTL, so your product isn’t handled more than it should be and isn’t at risk from other products.
Stone transport can be more expensive to ship due to its heaviness and fragility. Any time you have a shipment that requires more attention to detail or more specialized equipment, it’s going to be more costly.
If you typically ship large volumes of stone materials often, a Request For Proposal (RFP) or contract with a carrier or logistics company can be one way to find savings versus working with the spot market.
Because of how delicate transporting your stone materials can be, you want to make sure the motor carrier you select is experienced. This is where cutting costs here isn’t always worth it. You also want to make sure your provider has enough insurance and that your commodity is covered should something happen.
Stone transport can be one of the most challenging types of freight to arrange. However, you can choose to simplify your shipments by working with an experienced third-party logistics (3PL) company like Trinity Logistics.
Working with Trinity saves you time from finding and vetting carriers, figuring out what equipment is needed, and gives you full visibility of your product’s transit, from pick up to delivery. Experience our best-in-class customer service and sit back, knowing that we’ll get your product safely delivered.
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