Shipping Equipment — Some Days are Easier than Others

I was asked to ship a large piece of equipment from Phoenix to an office located in another city and state.  No problem — it was decommissioned months ago and has just been sitting there, waiting for someone to decide its fate, and in a rare moment of brilliance, I had saved the custom shipping crate its replacement had arrived in.  Just roll it into the crate, seal it up, and have Shipping call someone to come get it.  Easy — Not!


Months ago, when the replacement system arrived, it was contained in a custom built shipping crate more than 7 feet tall.  Although it fit through the doors on the receiving dock, it was several inches taller than the door of the freight elevator.  Out of its crate, the system easily fit in the elevator.  So the crate was left down stairs and the system was installed next to its predecessor.  Eventually the older system was shutdown and turned off, but left in the machine room until we decided what to do with it.

Fast forward to today, when I received the shipping address of the office that could use the old system.  I discovered that the empty crate, which had been clearly labeled and left in a corner of the dock reserved for such things, was missing.  Eventually, I learned that had been moved to authorized-access only cage.  Apparently this was part of a ‘clean up’ measure due to a visit of an off-site VP.

The cage is a chain-link enclosure where unused equipment that is still on the books gets stored until being reassigned.  The cage is locked and requires the approval of a manager in order to gain access.  Fortunately, it only took several phone calls to locate someone with the authority to approve my removal of the empty crate.

Once the crate was returned to the dock area, I rolled the old system out of the machine room and into the freight elevator to take it down.  Unfortunately, taking it out of the elevator proved more challenging than expected.  One of the cabinet’s wheels had turned sideways as it rolled across the elevator’s threshold and wedged itself in the small crack between the floor of the elevator and the floor of the dock.  This equipment is not light.  It took a while to find a couple of people who could help lift, push, and pull the cabinet the rest of the way out of the elevator — all while the elevator doors continuously closed, reopening after they contacted the cabinet, only to try closing again a few seconds later.  Unwedged from the elevator, I was able to get the machine safely stowed in it’s crate.

The Shipping department is separate from Receiving, in separate buildings.  They have a truck that regularly runs between the buildings and I had fortunately been able to get the crate sealed and ready to go just before it was scheduled to arrive.  The cargo door of the truck, however, was exactly the same height as the crate — using a pallet-jack was out of the question.  So more bodies were located and we manually slid the heavy thing the last several feet into the truck — in 106 (F) degree weather with 30% humidity.  We had to do it all over again when the truck got over to the Shipping dock.

I was so happy to finally turn over the shipping instructions and to wash my hands of the damn thing.

Just roll it into the crate, seal it up, and have Shipping call someone to come get it … my foot!

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