GNCTR Q&A Frequent Questions

Most frequent questions from team captains

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: Yes, the crate on the right will cause problems.

Here’s why: 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:

Both designs allow forklifts to pick up from all 4 sides during the shipping. That’s very important. However, at TechEX and at the Race Hill, we use OPEN FLATBED TRUCKS, forklifts must pick up crates from the side.

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.

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.

*** 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.
Great question.

QUESTION: I got your shipping rate! Thank you for your quick work. What are the next steps now? Are there forms you would like me to fill out? Shall we set a date for the crate to be picked up?

ANSWER: One of the reasons the Committee selected Logistics Decisions: We do everything so you don’t have to. We know the docs have to be exactly right and we do them correctly. Having 2 sons studying Engineering taught me that Engineering students have enough to learn as it is. I’ll look after the trucking; you just focus on having fun.

Click on the other GNCTR link GNCTR Shipping Info for samples of the documents we prepare for you. I tailored that page just for GNCTR and hoped it would be understandable by shippers with or without any shipping experience.

We fill out all the shipping documents for you and we send a copy to your university’s shipping department, the carrier and the team captains. I just need you to provide me with contact names, phone and email of your shippers at the pickup location, the alternate captain’s cell phone and yours. I’ll call the shipper and set it all up correctly and email him and cc you the bill of lading (but not till after Christmas).

Your team can just focus on making an outstanding sled and I’ll do the shipping so you can just have worry-free fun at the events.

QUESTION: Tim, we are concerned about the size of our crate. Right now, we are looking to construct an 8’x6’x5′ crate (5 foot height) instead of the suggested 8’x6’x4′ crate to accommodate our toboggan’s size.

ANSWER: Download the PDF: GNCTR-2016-crate-dimensions.pdf

The suggested dims were 8L x 4W x 6 to 8′ high, not 8x6x4’H. Don’t let the dims interfere with a winning design. After all, one sled was over dimensional that i shipped in 2012 and it turned out to be the overall winner. In 2013, another oversize crate (mostly display) was too big, however, and delayed loading and unloading for all other teams. It should have been shipped in 2 separate, more manageable crates. I loved riding down Mount Seymour in it, though. TWO SMALL 8X4X6’h CRATES ARE THE SAME COST AS 1 HUGE 16X4X6’High crate because the total dimensions inside the truck are the same as one massive crate, but two smaller crates are easier to load and unload.

There are sound reasons why I suggested those crate dimensions though. One is to reduce your team’s costs, not only for shipping, but storage and other possible ways. Here they are:

If longer than 8′, you can’t unload if a dock is unavailable, and if no fork lift or pump truck is in the van, you either need a lot of muscle or tie it to a tree and drive away to take it out. Also, have fun getting it back into the truck after the Tech Ex or Race.

Note that 8 trucks will be used for GNCTR local events. If crates are the recommended size we have the option of loading them into trailers sideways, or endways, or from the side of flatbed trucks in a slushy Ski hill parking lot if we need to. Also, at the recommended dimensions, we can get 12 crates into a single truck, so only 2 trucks were required to each event. One year there were 18 units and the previous GNCTR we had 19 crates, but had there been 24, or 18 oversized crates, the ones that were oversize could force the Committee to purchase 4 more trucks (1 more to the Tech Ex, 1 more from the Tech Ex, a 3rd to the Race and a 4th extra trailer after the Race. If that were to occur, that extra cost of 4 trucks would be billed back to your teams by the Committee.

Width: If 4’wide, we can put 2 side by side in an 8 foot wide trailer. If one crate is wider than 4′, another crate can’t fit beside it in a truck, doubling the space required inside the trailer, and could possibly lead to the Committee requiring extra trucks that they didn’t budget for, so they would be forced to charge back the extra cost to your team.

Finally, storage is cheap at the recommended size, but over-length OR over-wide units would cost the Committee double for 2 spots on the warehouse floor instead of one. If one sled is both over long and WIDER THAN 4′, the Committee has to pay for 4 spots then claw back that extra cost to your team.

So in summary, a little extra cost to ship an oversize crate is one thing, but the unbudgeted team money that might impact the committee funds for warehousing and trucking to the events could possibly be an unexpected cost teams don’t plan for.

QUESTION: We won’t be going over the 1000 lb. weight restriction and our design will follow the drawings provided in the registration package.

ANSWER: Weight is not restricted to 1000 lb. that was the average weight overall last year. An 8x4x8’H crate can be as heavy as 1800 lbs. without increasing trucking or warehousing costs.

QUESTION: Could you also provide an indication of how much time will be required for a shipment from Vancouver? We’re trying to work backwards to determine our schedule for early January.ANSWER: MOST FREIGHT GOES FROM YOUR LOCATION TO A NEAREST LARGE CITY, LIKE VANCOUVER TERMINAL, THEN TORONTO, then to the final city, Ottawa for example.

Kelowna would go to Vancouver, then Toronto, then Ottawa in 2016 for example.
If we use Toronto as a hub as an example, other rules of thumb are:

It takes one day from London or other southern ON points to get to Toronto.

Add 2 days to get to Toronto from N ON or QC;

2-3 extra days from Halifax to Toronto hub and 7-10 days from NF

To be safe, we need 8-10 days to Toronto from Kelowna, including the extra day to Vancouver add a sacrificial day or 2 to appease the FREIGHT GODS, who control weather, derailments, avalanches and human error.

3 weeks is safest from NS or NF. If you are running out of time constructing, we have a premium service at higher cost, but we can ship faster.

QUESTION: Hey Tim! Thanks for the quick turn-around. Are taxes to be added onto these prices?ANSWER: There are taxes on shipping. Every province has a different tax percentage. What’s interesting is that you pay the tax in the province you deliver in. Therefore, if shipping from ON to BC, you pay BC tax on your shipment of 12%, but on the way home, you pay the ON tax of 13%.

See below for the HST/GST tax that you pay based on what province you’re delivering to, not where you pick up.

Alberta GST 5% 5%
British Columbia GST + PST 5% 7% 12%
Manitoba GST + PST 5% 8% 13%
New Brunswick HST 15% 15%
Newfoundland and Labrador HST 15% 15%
Northwest Territories GST 5% 5%
Nova Scotia HST 15% 15%
Nunavut GST 5% 5%
Ontario HST 13% 13%
Prince Edward Island HST 15% 15%
Quebec GST + QST 5% 9.98% 14.98%
Saskatchewan GST + PST 5% 5% 10%
Yukon GST 5% 5%

Generally, GST/HST for shipments is calculated based on the destination province, and not the origin province.
Generally, QST is only applicable to shipments from and to Quebec.
Generally, PST is not applicable to shipping charges, but HST is.

QUESTION: Tim: We would likely have the 10′ crate because of our design so I’ll look into it at our end for loading and unloading. I know RRC has a dock, I’m unsure of what they’ll have at the Event Locations. Depending on what they have maybe we would have to go to 8′ and adapt the sled to suit.

ANSWER: There is a dock at the warehouse and the Tech Ex location will have a dock. At the Race Hill, there will be a Tractor/forklift that can unload/load 8’ crates from the side, possibly a 10’ if the crate is strong. There is also navigating your crate within the Tech Ex building, which may have freight elevator dimensions to consider from the shipping area to the convention floor.

QUESTION: Hi Tim, You have provided us with a quote assuming the recommended crate size (8x4x6′). Our crate will actually be a bit longer (10′ L x 4′ W x 6′ H). Could you please readjust your quote to reflect this, and it send to me?

In your GNCTR Q&A forum, you explained that it will be significantly more difficult to transport, store and handle a crate that is greater than 8′ long. What measures should we take to ensure this shipment goes smoothly? Will we actually need to get our team members to lift this crate from the van instead of a fork lift? Any insight is much appreciated.

ANSWER: I was told by the Org Committee that they believed a forklift was available to unload at the hill. I’ll confirm that once I have the contact info and can speak to the shipping department at each site.

If so, being 10 feet long, a forklift may be able to pull the sled out far enough that one end is still on the deck and lower the heaviest end to the ground. Your team could try to grab one end on the trailer and help lower it. It’s not safe and it risks dropping your sled (on a finger or toe too).

What we did last year (where a forklift was available) was to deliver them on a flatbed trailer, so length was not an issue and the very light sleds were unloaded by the teams without any forklift.

Without a dock, these are the only 2 ways to unload.

As per the rules last year, extra costs incurred, the Org Com doesn’t pay extra costs caused by your team… your team would.

*I’ll revise your rate for the shipment being 10’ long instead of 8’. Keep the dims inside 4’ wide though or I’ll have to do it again and everything I just said won’t apply.

QUESTION: Tim, We discussed when would be best to ship the tech-ex and you said that shipping it about 2-3 weeks ahead would be best. So if we were to ship it 2-3 weeks prior to the competition, will it be stored in the warehouse before the Tech-ex day? Also just to make sure, the warehouse is always near the hosting GNCTR University, right?

ANSWER: First, from Halifax to Kelowna, in this example:

I’ll be sending you a bill of lading that states the dates of pick up for you and all teams. I’m scheduling Eastern crates to all to arrive in Toronto 10-14 days in advance of TechEX

I want to personally inspect them at the Toronto location before they go to West.From there all of the Crates in Toronto go on a large truck to arrive in a Kelowna Warehouse location that I arranged. We like to arrive 3-5 days early, to offer extra time in case any unexpected shipping delays to any team’s sled occurred, so we’ll have a week window to receive all crates.

All crates are brought to the Tech-Ex and then to the Race Hill parking lot onto my flatbed, where I arranged equipment and people to unload them all. From there after the races, I’ll bring them all home.

Maps to the warehouse and to the Tech-Ex will be posted on my site, I was told.

QUESTION: As of right now we don’t have a dolly or wheels to move it from to the Convention floor, how does this work exactly because I thought that the shipping company would be bringing it to the convention floor for us?

ANSWER: Trucks deliver only to docks. The rest is up to us. Some TechEX locations may lend us dollies to move our crates to the show room, or the committee will have to rent some.

Having seen the whole process with my own eyes at TechEX, I discovered a few things that might eliminate bottlenecks, require less muscle and to eliminate waiting time charges from the drivers if I can.

Waiting Time charges that occur if the drivers have to sit and wait for the freight for more than an hour and the committee has to pay an unexpected bill for that.

I learned that the judging and the re-crating can cause delay: I was told to bring the trucks in at 3pm in Vancouver, so this year I’m bring my trucks in at 5pm, which should give us time to finish the judging an have our crates ready to load.

Other ideas that I’m implementing this year to cut waiting time, based on my Vancouver and Kelowna GNCTR experiences:

I’m using flatbeds, not enclosed trucks this time. These open sided flatbed trailers are accessible from all sides for easy loading and unloading.

Dollies: Carriers deliver to docks, not inside. The hotel or committee must provide dollies to move crates.
Delivery trucks sometimes have a Pump Cart inside them that they use to lift and move skids around inside their trucks. Once the delivery is made, the driver takes his pump truck with him so he can use it for all his other deliveries that day.

In Vancouver, the committee had to rent several pump carts. In London, the Hilton hotel said they “might lend us one”, but I’m not relying on anyone but us, would you? Can you imagine 20 separate 1000 lb. crates sharing just one loaned dolly and taking one crate at a time from the dock to the Tech Ex floor, which is up an elevator 3 floors away, then down a long hall and into a gigantic ball room and back, while the other 19 teams wait below for them to return with one dolly. No way.

The solution is NOT wheels. They proved unsafe in and on our trucks.