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I want a Crate Not a Condo!

September 27, 2016

When reviewing the total cost of new exhibits a frequent hiccup in otherwise smooth pricing reviews is when they buyer bumps into the expense of ‘Crating’. Sometimes referred to as ‘cases’ or ‘packaging’ it is one thing for a buyer to spend money on the exhibit since it will pay for itself many, many times over. But why are the darn crates so much?

In layman’s terms a properly designed Exhibit case will take all of the following into account:

The external materials making up the bulk of the crate – Wood, metal, pressboard, vinyl, blow molded plastic, fiber? Can it be shipped into certain countries that ban certain materials?

The interior surface(s) that come into contact with your assets – does it need to be lined? What flexibility is needed to separate or stabilize the contents?

The individual item packaging that will be inside – even on smaller rolling cases will there be protruding straps, pull tags or buttons that could get damaged by exposed hardware on a case’s interior?

How the various pieces and parts of the crating are held together – a crate “banged together” with nails likely is less costly than one with brass fittings covered in protective rubber. Do you need a crate that is airtight or could a cage like structure meet your shipping requirement?

The security aspects of the crate – Are there handles?  Hasp locks? Bungee-like contraptions just holding the cover on? Do you need an embedded chip inside the case that can radiate its GPS location in the event your crate gets lost?

Whether it will roll, be lifted, moved, shoved, by humans or by forklifts – The weight of the case itself can sometimes be considerable. Now add the contents  Are polyurethane wheels needed or would minimal plastic ones be OK? Does it need casters? Does it need forklift access from 4 sides or are 2 ok?

How the case will be helpful for the at-show experience – You want to minimize labor costs and avoid your staff resenting you so facilitate the unpacking and repacking experience by remembering grandma who said: “a place for everything and everything in its place!”

The degree to which it is customized to meet specific placement of specific items – with placement of items in mind, remember that a crate that is designed for placement of specific items will cost more than a crate of equal size that is just a big open ‘tub.’

Expectation of frequency/usage – If an item only has to ship to your facility and its being displayed on-site instead of at events and shows, then in most cases alternative and minimal crating can be utilized instead of tying up valuable money in something that won’t be needed in the future.

Most importantly, what you are buying is a system to protect what is inside. Your exhibit assets go on a horrendous journey once they leave the loving care of your office or exhibit house storage facility. From trucks to planes, ships or warehouse transfer facilities they are manhandled, pallet-jacked and forklifted – and that’s before your show’s general contractor gets their caring kid gloves on them! Pity the poor case that is on the bottom of a 20’ stack of “empties” during the show and further victimized by the race to dismantle after the show.

Be safe – Pack Smart!

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