ILLUSTRATION: MARK FISHER
We're about to purchase a new exhibit, including crates to transport it. What's the least I need to know about crates before I sign on the dotted line?
Your exhibit house will likely have its own recommendations regarding the type and quality of crates you purchase to secure your property. However, here are a few key factors to consider as you move through the decision-making process.
➤ External Makeup
– What is the crate made of, how long will this material last, and are such materials banned or regulated by any countries in which you plan to exhibit? Crates can comprise metal, pressboard, vinyl, blow-molded plastic, fiber, and more, but you'll need to consider the aforementioned variables to select the right medium for your needs.
➤ Internal Components
– The internal makeup of the crates is just as important as the external casing, as the inside components actually come into contact with your exhibitry. So consider whether your crate innards will have firm rigidity and a tight fit to prevent any movement or if they'll offer slight flexibility and "give" to move with transport and provide cushioning for your contents.
– How is the crate held together? Does it use banding, nails, brass fittings, or some other type of closure? How durable are these fasteners, and will they need periodic replacement? Also consider whether your crates will be airtight or breathable. This can make a big difference if your shipment is likely to be exposed to inclement weather.
➤ Security and Tracking
– Will your crates feature locks, and if so, what type will be used? Will the crates include any sort of embedded tracking system (e.g., radio-frequency identification tags) that allows you to know exactly where your shipment is when it's en route to a show or back to your office or storage location?
Ease of Handling – How will your crates be moved, and what features are included to ease mobility? For example, will the crates have rollers, or will they always have to be shoved along the ground or positioned via forklift? Along these same lines, what type of wheels are required – plastic, polyurethane, or steel casters – and do your crates need to accommodate forklift tongs from all four sides or will just two suffice?
Given the significant cost of an exhibit, it's wise to carefully protect your investment. So be sure to consider the aforementioned factors during the crate-purchasing process to keep your new asset safe and secure.
— Steve Hoffman, owner, Skyline Exhibits and Design, Greenville, SC