Shipping any type of equipment requires careful attention to packaging and handling, but manufacturers of electronic capital equipment face a special set of challenges.
Whether you’re delivering a control unit to help power a nuclear plant in Dubai or shipping the electronics for a vacuum chamber that draws chemicals into pressure-treated lumber, small decisions can have huge impacts.
Electronics are always high-maintenance travelers. They are sensitive to moisture, shock, and vibration. They can also be quite large and top-heavy. Which means that an off-the-shelf shipping crate won’t guarantee that they arrive at their final destination in prime condition.
Capital equipment represents a significant investment, so planning ahead for the shipment phase of the project makes smart business sense.
What type of equipment?
We are talking about high-cost industrial electronic devices that will be used to produce other commodities. Examples include server racks or control units that will be installed in a factory or power plant.
In what industries are these machines used?
This type of complex electronic equipment is integral to a wide range of sectors, including everything from power generation to semi-conductor manufacturing, as well as lumber treatment, data storage, and telecommunications.
Rules to Ship By:
We have covered the big three basic rules of a successful shipment in previous blog posts, but they bear repeating:
Plan your packaging.
Share the full dimensions of your equipment with your packaging partner before you begin building. If you discover after the fact that your equipment is too tall to fit inside a standard ocean container, you will be faced with choosing between sending your precious cargo across the sea in an open-top container or having it disassembled, then re-crated. Either way, you are spending extra time and money (or accepting additional risk) that could have been spared with a more complete understanding of shipping requirements.
You might be inclined to build a custom crate for your most expensive equipment, but send other elements via standard shipping services, like FedEx or UPS. But it’s worth considering whether that will end up costing you more in the long run. It might make business sense to design a consolidation crate (link to consolidation blog post) that can house your capital equipment, plus all the other items needed to successfully install it at your customer’s site. Packaging everything together in a single crate guarantees that it all receives the same careful handling and arrives at the customer’s site at the same time.
Check the scales.
The total weight of the electronics can impact several different aspects of packaging. Larger control devices weighing more than 1,000 pounds may require specially reinforced heavy-duty skids. But lighter-weight electronics might be built on wheels. So a crate for equipment weighing less than 1,000 pounds might include a ramp to allow the unpacking team to roll the equipment out of the crate.
Accommodate the center of gravity.
Oftentimes, this type of equipment can be top-heavy. Server racks, for example, can have a high center of gravity, especially if the manufacturer has not added weight to the bottom of the cabinet to counterbalance the complex machinery installed at the top of the rack. For example, a 7-foot-tall server rack with a 24-square-inch footprint is going to be very precarious if packaged in a crate that same approximate shape. Instead, a crate will be built around a much wider skid, with custom bracing at the top to help ensure the equipment stays upright through the whole journey.
Know the packing and un-packing processes.
Consider what tools and equipment will be available at the customer’s site when the shipment is ready to be un-crated. Crates can be designed for “top-down” disassembly, where the roof of the crate is removed first, then the side panels. This might be ideal if the product features eye bolts on the top, so the equipment can be lifted into or out of the crate with a crane and a sling. If a fork truck is going to be used at either site, blocking should be built onto the skid, so the fork can easily get underneath the equipment. Or, the crate can be designed to support a “side door” option, so that only one side panel needs to be removed in order to un-crate the equipment (by rolling it down an integrated ramp, for instance.)
CDC Packaging has the experience to help your electronic capital equipment arrive safe and sound at your customer’s site. Contact us today to learn more about customizing your packaging to suite your electronics’ special requirements.