shipping pre-built cabinets vs. build-on-site

Justin M. Streiner streiner at
Mon Apr 6 14:19:31 CDT 2009

On Mon, 6 Apr 2009, Joe Abley wrote:

> Anybody here have experience shipping pre-built cabinets, with ~20U of 
> routers and servers installed, connected and tested, to remote sites for 
> deployment?
> The idea is to increase the consistency of the deployments by having them all 
> built in one place by the same set of people, and to reduce the amount of 
> time required by warm bodies on-site (bodies that would otherwise have to 
> receive individual components and install/cable them).

The issue you might run into is dealing with pre-racked components that 
end up getting damaged in transit.  I've seen shippers do creative things 
with forklifts and pallet jacks :(

On the flip side, telcos often do this.  I know Verizon builds (or at 
least they did for a long time) racks and cabinets for deployment at 
customer deployment a central facility, then ships the finished product 
for installation.  In this area (Pittsburgh, PA), the cabinets were built 
and tested at a Verizon assembly facility in Martinsburg, WV.

If you do move ahead with this and do use 4-post cabinets, make sure most 
of the devices can be secured to both the front and rear posts.  That 
wouldn't apply to things like patch panels, but 1U servers and 1U network 
devices are often somewhat lacking in terms of sturdy mounting harrdware 
that's designed to accommodate the rigors of shipping.

As for shippers, I don't know if I would trust something as valuable or 
fragile to a regular LTL freight carrier.  You might want to look at 
someone like FedEx Custom Critical.  In my previous life, customers would 
ship their gear to our data center using them.  Not cheap by any 
stretch...  Also, if the source or destination does not have a real 
loading dock, your shipments will likely be more expensive if the shipper 
has to use a lift-gate truck.

> We've located a few vendors who sell shock-tolerant cabinets, but they're 
> expensive and seem to me to be aimed at people who need to ship a set of 
> equipment frequently (e.g. to support movie shoots, outside broadcasts, etc), 
> rather than people who want to ship just once.

Right.  Companies like Calzone Cases, Jan-Al, Penn Fabrication and Hardigg
can build cabinets for this purposes but they are designed for stuff that 
lives 'on the road', such as touring sound equipment.

> Do I even need to spend time wondering about shock-tolerant cabinets, or 
> should I instead be concentrating on finding the right company to wrap the 
> cabinets for shipping, and to do the shipping itself?

There are shock-mount pallets and shipping frames that can be used - they 
often bolt to the bottom of the cabinet and then there is often a 'bumper' 
for the top of the cabinet and then the whole works is shrink-wrapped 


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