What Is Theoretical Mass, and How Is It Used in the Fence Industry?
When you first start to explore the wonderful world of metal fences, you’re going to run into some new terms, and one of them is likely to be theoretical mass.
You will see this in metal catalogs, usually listed as kilograms per meter or pounds per foot. Here’s what this means and how it’s used in the fence world.
What Is Theoretical Mass?
Like most materials, we know the scientific composition and mass of mild steel, stainless steel, aluminum, and so on. This is a constant amount that is usually measured per cubic meter, yard, or foot.
We can also calculate the volume of material per foot of tubing, pipe, and structural steel components.
By applying the known mass per cube to the cubic volume of material per foot of any steel profile, we can calculate the theoretical mass of that material.
The reason it’s called theoretical mass is that the steel manufacturing process is not entirely precise. This means that the finished product may vary slightly from the mass we’ve calculated.
Of course, the good news is that you won’t have to do all those calculations yourself. Most metal distributor catalogs will list the theoretical mass of each type of material.
How Is Theoretical Mass Used In the Fence Industry?
You might be wondering how knowing the weight of metal materials affects the fence industry. Several ways, actually.
First, there’s hot dip galvanizing and powder coating of gates or fence panels. Both of these coating systems are often priced based on the weight of the materials. This means that in order to estimate how much coating and color will cost, you first need to know the weight of each gate, panel, post, and component.
Then there’s shipping. Most freight calculations are volumetric. This means that freight carriers can accommodate a certain maximum volume or a maximum weight – usually whichever is lower.
This means that even if your freight carrier, container of flatbed, could handle the volume of fence materials you need to ship, the weight might exceed the maximum carrying capacity. This, of course, would mean you’d need to have more than one load, which would increase costs.
A Crucial Part of Fence Estimating
As you can see from these examples and scenarios, theoretical mass is actually a critical tool for fence estimators to accurately price the materials they’re planning to manufacture for a project.
It also helps fence companies that install these fences or gates because knowing how much each item weighs helps to calculate the anticipated labor required to place and secure it. Very heavy gates or panels might even need special equipment.
Finally, using theoretical mass to calculate the weight of fence panels or gates helps to ensure that the gate and fence posts specified for the project are strong enough to get the job done. Very heavy panels and gates might need a larger post or one with a thicker wall.
This is not something most fence customers will ever have to worry about, but it’s worth understanding a little more about how fence manufacturing and transport costs are calculated.