Shipping containers come in all sizes and shapes. Many items being transported across the region, the country and the world are fragile. Even items that don’t necessarily spring first to mind when you think of the word “fragile”—like airplane engines—do, in fact, have critical components that need to be carefully protected. Some items are more obviously fragile, like MRI machines and other medical devices, or specialty fluorescent light bulbs. Others have highly sensitive electronic components that need to be protected. Still others, such as nuclear fuel rods or missiles, have unique sensitivities. Every product, no matter what it is, has a “fragility” level where it may sustain damage and cease to function properly.
Rule of thumb: if something has to perform in a consistent and reliable manner immediately after it’s unpacked – it’s fragile.
And you’d better pack it right the first time or be prepared to spend time and money repairing or recalibrating sensitive equipment.
When fragile products need to be shipped, elastomeric mounts can offer better protection than traditional methods such as hard mounting, springs or foam packing. LORD Corporation’s specially formulated elastomer absorbs and deflects the energy created by shock and vibration. Most container mounts consist of an elastomeric pad sandwiched between two flat plates, with threaded fasteners. In addition to the ordinary up-and-down, back-and-forth shifting movements that items experience while in transit, container mounts must protect against the shock of isolated events like aircraft landings, railcar switching, accidental drops or tilts, road bumps…and in general, extremely rough handling. Each shock can be similar to the impact of being dropped onto a concrete floor from a high height.
Mounts must also isolate contents from damage due to vibration, which is repetitive motions caused by the environment outside the container (i.e., the mechanical systems of ships, planes, trains, and automobiles). Exposure to vibration over an extended period can literally shake a product apart.
Another consideration is the temperature range at which the elastomer will function, because shipped items may be subjected to extreme temperatures, from frigid high-altitude conditions to scorching ground-level environments.
With all these threats to an item’s well-being while it’s in transit, how can you be sure the mount you select will offer adequate protection? The answer lies in careful engineering.
Look for Part 2 in this series, Designing and Selecting Container Mounts