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How to properly handle the transportation and storage of aluminium material

Updated: Sep 10, 2019

I’m sure many of you have followed the storm Dorian in the southeast. It first landed on the Bahamas and then pounded the southeastern coast of the U.S., slamming Charleston, South Carolina with rain and storm surge. The port of Charleston and port of Savannah port were both closed on Wednesday 9/4 and Thursday 9/5. In addition to the ports, many container freight stations and trucking companies were also closed. On Friday 9/6 all the ports and offices resumed normal operating hours, but it was reported some areas were without electricity and internet access. It was a big mess and my hope is that everyone is safe and power is restored quickly!

The first thing on my mind last Friday was to contact my truck broker regarding our high value and vulnerable aluminum coils in his warehouse. I spoke with the terminal manager and confirmed that all coils were fully tarped and the warehouse was kept and remained at a dry, steady temperature.

I assist in shipping these aluminum coils for one of my European clients who transports aluminum products to many USA distributors.

I have learned a lot of important facts regarding the handling and storing

of aluminum products and how to do it in a safe and expedient way.

I would like to share with you a couple of these facts and tips:

Tarp your Aluminium at all time

Aluminum products are formed into various shapes; coils, sheets, alloy or foil. No matter what form, they are very vulnerable to scratches and wear marks that can lead to subsequent interfacial corrosion if left uncovered.

Therefore, aluminum material must be packaged in strong paper, plastic or bubble foil during any moving and during transportation to prevent individual surfaces from bumping against each other. Trucking companies will often charge extra service fees but well these extra measures are a must and are well worth the money to protect the aluminum material.

Below is a photo from my trucker demonstrating the proper way to tarp/protect these valuable coils:

Keep your Aluminium dry at all time

Aluminum materials with high magnesium content are very sensitive to water and condensation, whereas purer materials have greater resistance.

In the presence of moisture, aluminum will not rust as will steel, but under certain conditions aluminum will develop stains or even explode.

2 AL + 6 H2O = 2 AL(OH)3 + 3H2

Aluminum hydroxide (AL(OH)3 is like a yellow stain on top of the aluminum. You will have to use Sodium hydroxide ( NAOH) to wash it off.

In addition, if the aluminum is wet in pure water the corrosion is barely noticeable however, the corrosion will be accelerated at pH > 9, especially with high carbonate and high silica content of the water, for instance, an acid rain.

  • Condensation

Another scenario in which to prevent is condensation.

Just like when you walk in your bathroom with glasses on and immediately your glasses fog up. Same concept! Condensation can also occur if aluminum is transported on a cold truck and is then unloaded directly into a warmer environment. To prevent condensation formation on the cold aluminum surface, we recommend that the aluminum warehouse keep the coils in their original packaging while in storage until they acclimate to the warmer climate. The process of acclimation typically takes between 36 and 48 hours before unpacking. The ideal room temperature in the warehouse is +10 degree Celsius or +50 degrees Fahrenheit.

That is all. Hope you all have something to take away :)

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