There are two approaches used to minimize deck cracking during shipping and handling. The first approach is to use transverse prestressing. The deck can be designed to remain in compression under all handling situations. The second approach is to design the handling system to keep the concrete tensile stresses during handling within an allowable limit. The PCI design manual has significant information on designing panels for minimal or no cracking during handling. This manual includes recommendations on impact values and the calculation of lifting stresses. The allowable tension stress in the panels can be designed with a factor of safety of 1.5 applied to the modulus of rupture to produce a near zero cracking handling procedure.
In either case, it is possible to get minor cracking in deck panels; however the cracking noted to date has been significantly less than comparable cast in place concrete decks. In many cases, no cracking is found.
It is recommended that the design of lifting locations, hardware and lifting stresses be left up to the contractor or fabricator. This allows the contractor to take advantage to the lifting hardware that they have available. Specifications should require the submission of lifting and handling stresses for review.