QUESTION: Hello Tim, I am in charge of designing and building our shipping crate and Tech-Ex display for GNCTR this year. I have tried to model my design after the pictures of SAIT’s crate that you have on your website, and I just have a few questions just to confirm everything will go smoothly before I begin construction.
Firstly, SAIT’s crate had a forklift base with 4×4’s on the floor, running across the width, and another layer of 4×4’s on top of those that run the length of their crate (like the first picture below). Would it cause any problems if I reversed that, and had the 4x4s running along the length on the ground, and the cross beams running the width of our crate on top (like the second picture)?
ANSWER: To compare the bases, first try to envision that your team’s plywood crate is bolted*** to the top of each of the crate bases illustrated:
CRATE BASE #1 IS CORRECT:
If a forklift picks up the crate from the side, the forks fit nicely in the gaps under the full length 4×4’s. When a forklift picks it up, the entire floor of the crate above is evenly supported by the strength of the 3 8’ long 4×4’s running the full length underneath.
CRATE BASE #2 will cause problems. Here’s why:
The 4’ wide 4×4’s that go across on top of the 3 full length 4×4’s offer no support to the crate above at all. The 4” wide forklift forks have to pick up your heavy crate in the gaps between them and must lift the whole crate’s weight by the weak plywood bottom, forced to bypass your base completely. The 4” wide forks could easily puncture the plywood, damage your sled and separate from the base from the crate above.
the full length 4×4’s are strong, but the forks fit above them, not beneath them, so their strength isn’t used at all. They offer no support for the crate above during the lift. Your crate base must MAKE FORKLIFTS LIFT @ STURDY BASE, NOT THE WEAK PLYWOOD ON TOP OF IT.
MAKE SURE A FORKLIFT CAN PICK UP YOUR CRATE FROM ALL 4 SIDES. That’s very important, because when we pick up and deliver your sled at your university, the truck we use is a VAN (enclosed trailer, loading and unloading out the rear only). However, at TechEX and at the Race Hill, we use OPEN FLATBED TRUCKS, where forklifts must pick up crates from the trailer’s side. SO MAKE SURE A FORKLIFT CAN PICK UP YOUR CRATE FROM ALL 4 SIDES TO ACCOMMODATE 6 DIFFERENT TRUCKS AND 3 WAREHOUSE DOCKS TO GNCTR AND 3 MORE DOCKS ON THE WAY HOME.
*** Note I said bolted, because screws aren’t strong enough. Remember this: Your crate will be jiggling around inside a truck for thousands of miles. Over the course of the whole GNCTR transportation, it may be loaded and unloaded in and out of trucks and warehouses up to 11 different times, by 11 different people, by 11 different forklifts. Crates with sturdy bolts don’t come apart enroute. Screws are useless and always cause handling problems somewhere along the line.