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Protecting Your Insulated Metal Panels on the Job Site

Insulated Metal Panels (IMPs) are cost-effective and manufactured to last, but builders need to safeguard these valuable assets by protecting them on the job site prior to installation.

The panels -- formed by a continuously, foamed-in-place manufacturing process which binds interior and exterior steel facings to a polyisocyanurate, insulating core – are durable and rigorously tested but they can also be damaged on the job site by improper unloading, storage, handling, exposure to elements and other factors.

“As with all construction projects, the contractor is ultimately responsible for the correct installation of the insulated metal panels,” says the Green Span Profiles Insulated Metal Wall Panel Installation Guide.

Contractors need to prevent damage to IMPs prior to installation.

IMP Delivery, Storage, Handling Best Practices

For those contractors unfamiliar with IMPs, some best practices for delivery, storage and handling include:

  • Delivery Done Right: In a perfect world, you would never need to store your IMPs on the job site for any length of time as your materials would be delivered at exactly the precise moment they are needed. The reality, however, is that with today’s supply chain woes, scheduling materials to arrive on time at your construction site can be a logistical nightmare. While you want to avoid having your IMPs sitting on the job site for an extended period – the longer they sit on the job site, the more chance that unforeseen circumstances can lead to damage – most contractors will err on the side of having the material arrive ahead of time with a healthy cushion because the last thing anybody wants it to have a crew idle because the supplies have yet to arrive. Even limiting the time your IMPs sit at the job site from two weeks to just one week, can cut down on potential damage.

    Green Span Profiles Tip: Immediately upon delivery of the IMPs, crosscheck the materials against the shipper to insure complement shipment. Exercise extreme caution when unloading IMPs by forklift, crane or by hand. Use two forklifts (minimum 5 feet apart) if unloading, 2-inch, 2.5-inch and 3-inch bundles greater than 36-feet or 4-inch, 5-inch and 6-inch bundles greater than 48-feet.
  • Storage Concerns: When it comes to storage, a “just put it anywhere” mentality will not do. In advance, a storage area will need to be marked off prior to delivery day that includes a hard surface that accepts the load weight evenly. Keep in mind that storing the IMPs too close to the actual build site will increase risk of damage to the panels by other trades while they sit on the ground. The storage area should drain well so that water does not pool or gather around the IMPs while they sit. Some contractors like to make a cut in the IMP packaging to ensure that any condensation or moisture that gets inside can make its way out.

    Green Span Profiles Tip: Storage area should be a clean, level, protected and sufficiently compacted area. Elevate one end of the bundle to ensure adequate runoff. Bundles left overnight should be tarped and tied down. Storage area should be at least 12 inches above ground level with a plastic ground cover under. 
  • Handle with Care: Proper unloading and handling techniques will ensure that your IMPs are not damaged prior to installation. Green Span Profiles, for example, reminds contractors that panel bundles will require a suitable forklift or crane. The length of your IMPs will dictate what sort of equipment you will need on the job site. Also, if panels need to be cut on the job site, they need to be properly supported during the cutting operation to prevent delamination of the face from the core or buckling of the panel. Padding forklifts or saws plates when handling IMPs can help prevent damage in transit on the job site.

    Green Span Profiles Tip: Always lift panels (from the bottom face only) when separating from a bundle, avoid dragging.
  • Elemental Damage: Unless your job site is inside a bubble, your IMPs will be exposed to the elements while they await installation. Sun and wind damage are two concerns. High winds could topple panel bundles if they are stacked too high or in an unsecured fashion. The panels while in storage should not be exposed to direct sunlight so they should be always covered with a tarp or other protective materials.

    Green Span Profiles Tip: Long term exposure to water or moisture in an oxygen deprived environment can cause storage stain. If possible store under a roof until use.

Remember, even while following the best practices for storing your IMPs, you must be vigilant about their condition, which includes daily inspections and repair of any punctures in the water-resistant wrappings, and re-covering bundles at the end of each day.

Topics: Insulated Metal Panels, Safety