Let us suppose you are in Northern Virginia, say Fairfax County, and you are looking to get something crated. What are your options? Although we are certainly far from impartial, let’s discuss the few choices you have.
Make a Crate Yourself
The obvious first choice for getting something crated is to do it yourself. Unless you are ordering wood in very large quantities, Home Depot or Lowes will offer prices that most other companies cannot touch. Although the quality of wood from both of these companies is typically not as good as you would get from a building supply company, it is readily available. All you need is some basic tools: a circular saw, measuring tape, and a hammer. The reality is that many companies that have a regular need for crates develop teams in house that do this work as part of their responsibilities.
There are some significant downsides to making crates yourself. First, and most importantly, time. Getting the materials, designing the crate, and then building the crate will be a half day or more. This is time that you could be spending making money, but are instead spending making a crate. It will also be difficult to make a crate for international shipping as you will not be able to use an IPPC stamp. This stamp on crates shows that it was built by a company that is inspected regularly to ensure compliance with international regulations for wood shipping containers and shipping materials. An all plywood crate may be OK under some circumstances, but it is riskier than going with a company with a IPPC stamp.
Order a Crate Online
Nowadays, there are many shipping supply stores that will sell you crates. These crates typically flat pack, and are available in a wide variety of sizes. They are typically easy to assemble, reasonably strong, and look professional. Shipping costs of these crates is cheaper than normal crates if ordering quantity, but will almost certainly require truck ( LTL ) shipment. Many of them are rated for international shipping.
The downsides of ordering crates online is that you have a very limited range of sizes and designs available. Although the prices are good for individual crates, with even just a few needed they become more expensive than a custom crate. Additionally, they are not as strong as a fully assembled crate can be. Most of the crates for sale that are rated for international shipping lack the IPPC stamp which could cause problems when shipping internationally (despite being compliant).
Order A Custom Crate Locally
Unsurprisingly, the choice we favor the most is buying a crate locally. This may include actual crating or packing of the crate in addition to ordering the “box.” There are a few big advantages to this approach. First, it is not any more expensive than any other option under most circumstances. Once the cost of time is added, it is often cheaper than building it yourself. Crates can be ordered unassembled, assembled, or your equipment can be crated in place. Some companies are responsive to rfqs, others are not. We try to get a response back in 1 business day. Quotes typically take 1-2 business days. Depending on workload, onsite crating can take place within only a few days of the initial contact. Bear in mind that these response rates vary from company to company and we try our best to be among the fastest.