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Lab Equipment Shipping

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Lab equipment shipping can be both an art and a science. Leave the legwork of moving this valuable freight to an expert like R+L Global Logistics.
Published: June 23, 2020
Last Modified: August 28, 2023
Author: Ask Truckload

Scientific discovery and production shouldn’t be slowed due to waiting for its lab equipment shipping to come through, and you have lab equipment to ship. However, it’s not as simple as throwing it into a box and onto the back of a truck. Knowing the best way to ship them is paramount to success, and missteps in this area can lead to losses. 

Thankfully, navigating through acronyms like FDA and OSHA isn’t as daunting as first thought and you can get a lot of great help with lab equipment shipping from an experienced third-party logistics (3PL) company to help your transport of these fragile and important items where they’re needed in a way that will assist you in achieving your goals.

Types of Lab Equipment

Types of Lab Equipment

A lab setting, whether it be an actual lab or a teaching setup, has a myriad of equipment used to conduct experiments and research. The purpose is to create a variety of things from chemicals and medicine to seemingly science fiction items like meatless burgers to human organs. To produce all of this, ample amounts of equipment is needed for the laboratory.

And while what is being created in labs has changed over time, much of the equipment has stood the test of time. The kinds of lab instruments available are massive and not limited to the following list:

  • Lab fume hoods
  • Furniture such as desks and chairs
  • Beakers
  • Test tubes
  • Safety equipment — goggles, gloves, apron/coat
  • Volumetric flask
  • Erlenmeyer flask
  • Boiling flasks
  • Florence flask
  • Graduated cylinders
  • Bunsen burners
  • Balances
  • Thermometers
  • Tongs and forceps
  • Spatulas and scoopulas
  • Ring stands, rings and clamps
  • Pipettes and burettes
  • Droppers
  • Funnels
  • Crucibles

Depending on the work or research being done, there are also specialty pieces of equipment like lasers and other machinery that can help during production and scientific research in a lab. Lab fume hoods are an important part of any lab, as they act as a localized ventilator to limit humans’ exposure to toxic or otherwise dangerous vapors, fumes or dusts.

Going even further, when a customer is setting up a lab, it’s important to know what kind of lab so you can make the right recommendations. For instance, knowing whether a lab is “wet” or “dry” is crucial. A wet lab would need sinks, surfaces resistant to chemicals and even a shower and/or eye wash station. A dry lab would have minimal chemicals — if any — and might instead be hosting a large amount of electronics, so the requirements for the furniture used wouldn’t be as stringent.

Need help with vaccine shipping? See how an expert freight ally can move life-saving vaccines from the lab to the pharmacy.

OSHA and FDA Requirements For Lab Equipment

The lab equipment used in the production of food or medicine must be in compliance with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). What the FDA is looking for in this case as far as lab equipment goes is for the items to label correctly where needed and to be made with materials that wouldn’t cause the medicine to be compromised in any way.

The equipment must be safe for people who take reasonable precautions to work with as well and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the U.S. regulatory body that governs that. While not tied explicitly to just the equipment, OSHA makes sure every occupation — including those in a laboratory setting — follows rules so that health hazards or other safety concerns are greatly reduced or altogether eliminated.

For example, OSHA’s Laboratory standard states that all fume hoods need to be regularly maintained so that they work appropriately to complete their task. 

As the assumed manufacturer or wholesaler of lab equipment, it is up to you to fulfil your customers’ needs with items that adhere to the standards laid out by both of these organizations. Failure to do so can result in heavy fines or other sanctions for your business.

Packaging Lab Equipment For Shipping

Lab equipment has some general characteristics that are universal no matter what the actual instrument being used is. They are generally made out of glass, metal or ceramic and have to be especially durable to extreme temperatures.

More specialized equipment may be required to withstand damage from chemicals or other elements as well. In telling you all of this, you’ll need to take different packaging precautions depending on the type of equipment being shipped.

For instance, flasks, beakers and pipettes are all made out of glass and should be covered in bubble wrap or — for flasks and beakers — be placed in strong cardboard boxes with cardboard inserts to form partitions. The partitions will greatly reduce the bottles making impact with each other during shipping and breaking.

Even robotic equipment is used in laboratories and should be packaged and transported in a manner befitting their high values. Depending on the size, it might be worth individually packaging these items since the craftsmanship, electrical components and assumed value to production or scientific exploration makes them more financially important than a single glass beaker.

Specialized furniture for lab settings and lab fume hoods should have more care exercised in being shipped. To prevent either from being damaged, it is probably good practice to individually wrap these items with plastic and cardboard, or put them in cardboard boxes with internal packaging to protect them from an unexpected jolt or ding. For lab fume hoods, like robotic equipment or other large items with electrical components, the utmost care should take place not only in the packaging but also during loading, unloading and the setup. 

On the other side of the spectrum, if you’re talking about some rubber gloves or goggles, less specialized care has to take place in their packaging.

Best Way To Transport Lab Equipment

Best Way To Transport Lab Equipment

There are only four ways to ship a full load of laboratory equipment — by rail, by truck, by ship or by air. Each method has its own strengths and weaknesses, but shipping companies should be able to help you figure out which one is best for you.

Unless there is a huge time crunch, shipping by air is generally infeasible as a regular, primary mode of transportation because of its enormous cost. Where air shipping would shine is if same-day or next-day shipping is needed and price is not a concern.

If you’re ordering lab equipment from overseas, there’s a very good chance ocean shipping will comprise some part of your journey. But unless the business you’re shipping to is basically right next to a major port, you’ll still require a truck or train to ship in the continental United States. So at best, ocean shipping — while relatively inexpensive — is only a partial transport method in America.

Rail shipping is popular because it is competitively priced and is the most fuel-efficient and environmentally-friendly mode of transportation over long distances. However, like air and ocean, its biggest weakness is it can’t be used as a door-to-door shipping option.

Which brings us to truckload shipping. While it may not be the bottom-line cheapest option, the full value is attractive to customers and its ability to service as the only door-to-door mode is also helpful. The availability of freight haulers is attractive to businesses and for shorter trips, it is arguably more efficient than rail.

But just comparing the four different methods of transportation doesn’t account for a fifth option: intermodal. This is the use of two or more modes of transportation to complete the journey of a single load. One of the methods in the chain is almost always truck since that is the way to get the lab equipment right where it needs to go.

Lab Equipment Shipping With R+L Global Logistics

When you’re ready to begin lab equipment shipping, it’s time to contact the experts at R+L Global Logistics to make the transporting of your materials an afterthought — in a good way. We’ll make the process seamless and simple for you so you can focus your energy in places that need more of your attention.

The two tenets of R+L Global Logistics are shipping your goods both on time and in the same great condition they left your factory in. We take pride in our ability to excel in both areas — our 99.5 percent on-time delivery rate signals our commitment to the first while our team of caring drivers and industry-leading customer service covers the second.

As part of the services R+L Global Logistics offers, if you need items shipped faster than usual, we offer expedited shipping. Additionally, we possess warehousing solutions to store your items until they’re ready to ship and also offer assistance across the entire supply chain. This means we can even fulfil orders for you out of our warehouses at a later date and get it right to your customers.
So when you’re ready to experience having R+L Global Logistics handle your lab equipment, receive a free freight rate quote from us today by calling 866.353.7178.

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