6 Tips for Transporting Large Equipment Racks

Getting a pre-assembled rack to the jobsite in one piece can be a challenge with today’s smaller vehicles. Here’s what integrators at the CI Summit said about the process.

Most integrators these days prefer to assemble and test an entire equipment rack in their own facility vs. on the jobsite. First, it allows you have access to everything you need, plus it avoids any potential embarrassment of running into a problem in front of the customer.

But pre-assembly of racks adds another challenge to the mix … getting it to the jobsite in one piece. The last thing you want to happen is for the rack and components to be damaged getting to the home.

At the CI Summit in Washington, D.C., attendees offered these quick tips for getting a rack to the jobsite in pristine condition during a panel discussion.

Shrinkwrap the Entire Rack – This is a no brainer that most integrators do already. Taking plastic shrinkwrap and wrapping it around the entire unit prevents the components from minor dings and scraps and helps keep them in place.

Envelope the Entire Rack in Cardboard – Taking the shrinkwrap idea on step further, Ian Williams, president of Encore Custom AV in Sterling, Va., says his engineering team will cut large pieces of cardboard to fill around the entire rack, almost like a large box. Then the cardboard “box” is shrinkwrapped adding another layer of protection.

Use Hard Cardboard Corners – This is not to protect the rack, but the home. The corners of the rack are usually the portion that can cause the most damage to a home’s drywall while using the dolly to move the rack in place. It’s pretty easy to indent plaster or drywall and the last thing an integrator wants to do is start spackling and trying to match colors in a wall. So, Encore Custom AV places hard cardboard corners on all its racks before transport.

Hire a Moving Company – The technicians don’t want to lift heavy equipment racks and with the proliferation of the smaller Sprinter style vehicles, there is a likelihood that large racks won’t fit inside the trucks anyway. So, AudioVisions in Southern California simply hires a moving company to transport it to the jobsite. Terence Murray, vice president of strategic development, says hiring the movers is a win-win for everyone. “The guys appreciate it and then we don’t have to worry about it,” he notes.

Insert Bubble Wrap for Loose Items – It is much more common these days for tall 43U racks or like sizes to include “loose” items like Apple TVs, so integrators have to take extended methods to keep the equipment in place. At Encore Custom AV, the engineering team not only will shrinkwrap the entire unit, but stuff bubble wrap into the rack to help secure those smaller components during transport.

Assemble, Test, Disassemble, Reassemble on Site – Sometimes it is unavoidable that there is no way you are going to get a rack to the proper position on the jobsite. Encore Custom AV recently had one of those jobs where the utility closet was up a flight of circular stairs. It meant the engineering team had to assemble the entire rack and hook up all the components, test it, then dissemble the entire rack, transport it to the jobsite and up the stairs, and then finally reassemble the rack in place.

“Just make sure you accommodate for that extra time when bidding the job,” advises Williams.

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