Q.: We are expecting to purchase about 150 precast panels, 10 by 20 feet each, from a manufacturer. What stipulations do you think we ought to include in our contract to be sure that they are handled and shipped properly?

A.: First you should make sure that the designer has designed the panels for the handling that they will receive. For example, if the panels have been made for handling on a tilt table in the plant, the panels should be shipped in the vertical position. Precast units should be lifted only at points designated by the designer, and when stored or transported the units must be similarly supported. Excessive overhang of panels during either shipping or jobsite handling can cause stresses that the designer didn't anticipate. It would be well to visit the plant, familiarize yourself with the plant operation, and agree with the manufacturer that no in-plant handling operations will be used that would introduce stresses not provided for in the design.