Wanted - Young, skinny, wiry fellows, not over 18. Must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred.--Advertisement in a California newspaper for Pony Express riders, 1860
Over the years, we have had a few unpleasant experiences with incoming shipments. Hopefully, this page will help you avoid some common well logging equipment shipping pitfalls.
First and foremost, always insure shipments of well logging tools and surface electronics. Insure for the full value of the equipment, but not more than the full value (shipping insurance, like car insurance, will only pay the fair market value of a totally destroyed shipment). Shipping insurance has a desirable side effect; packages insured for big bucks get special treatment. Sad to say, a logging tool insured for a couple of thousand dollars has a much better chance of arriving in one piece than an uninsured package! Do not try to save a few dollars by not insuring your shipments. Also, we recommend against third party insurance providers because the deterrent value of shipping insurance only works when the carrier is "on the hook". The above having been said, be aware that UPS will try to weasel out of an insurance claim any and every way they can. Their published tariff allows them to decline payment if a shipment is inadequately packaged; they usually reason that if they can destroy it by running over it with a forklift, it must have been inadequately packaged!Carriers
If you are shipping to AnaLog Services, Inc, your best choices are United Parcel Service (UPS) or Federal Express (FedEx) (premium services only). The Post Office (USPS) does an adequate job with parcels, but we recommend using them only for boxed surface electronics, or small downhole tools. USPS Priority Mail is a bargain for light shipments; it is cheaper and usually just as fast as premium second day services, and the post office even provides free Priority Mail envelopes, boxes, and tubes. For light shipments of 13 ounces or less, absolutely nothing is cheaper than First Class Mail, with delivery times in the one to three day range (over 13 ounces automatically becomes Priority Mail). All things considered, we recommend UPS ground shipping with full insurance coverage, but shipments must be packed with great care given the careless handling now common with UPS. If time is of the essence, and money is no object, then use one of the FedEx premium services, again with full insurance coverage.Tool Shipping Tubes
We sometimes ship with Federal Express ground service (formerly RPS), but we do not generally recommend using them to ship to us; their nearest terminal is over 60 miles from AnaLog Services, Inc. However, Federal Express ground service is beginning to look better in light of recent experiences with UPS, but be advised that FedEx is notorious for including sneaky hidden charges (be prepared to go over your FedEx invoices with a fine tooth comb). We have had bad experiences with Airborne Express and DHL Worldwide Express, presumably due to our remote location, and the fact they have no nearby facilities.
Use truck freight only if you must. If possible, break tools down into smaller components and ship UPS or FedEx. If there is no alternative to truck freight, then crate and pack the equipment as though you intend it to survive a nuclear attack.
A very good way to ship well logging tools is in a PVC shipping tube. For tools up to two inches in diameter, three inch Schedule 40 (stiffness rating 510 psi), Schedule 40 coextruded cellular core (stiffness rating 300 psi), or SDR-21 (stiffness rating 224 psi) PVC plastic pipe is adequate (do not use the thinner SDR-26). Our new favorite is the Schedule 40 coextruded cellular core drain waste and vent (DWV) pipe since it is lighter than traditional Schedule 40 pipe, but stiffer than SDR 21 (which we previously found more than adequate). Use PVC pipe fitting solvent cement to secure a cap on one end and a female threaded adapter on the other. A plastic threaded plug is then used to seal the tube. The PVC plastic pipe should be cut such that the finished assembly is enough longer than the tool to allow three or four inches of packing material at each end. If the tool is very delicate (scintillation detector tools, for instance), it may be wise to attach wood furring strips with duct tape two or three places around the circumference for additional stiffness and to prevent rolling, but we seldom go to this extreme. UPS and FedEx Ground limit parcels to 108 inches (9 feet) in length with a maximum of 130 inches of length and girth combined, but FedEx allows 119 inches in length and 165 inches of length and girth combined for their premium (next day, etc.) services. So most tools can be shipped using a PVC shipping tube with these carriers.Conventional Packaging
Use carpet padding foam to cushion the tool in the shipping tube. We prefer the type that is made from bits of recycled foam pressed together because of its stiffness. Odd sized remnant pieces can be had very cheaply from the home improvement superstores, or from any carpet seller. Cut the foam into strips perhaps four inches wide; tape the leading edge to the tool to prevent slippage; tightly wrap enough foam to be a snug fit in the shipping tube; and tape the circumference to secure. Do this in three, four, or more equally spaced locations on the tool. An alternative is to use foam pipe insulation, but it is only practical for some tools because of the limited number of sizes available. Make firm foam balls secured with tape to serve as end cushions. Do not use bubble wrap or packing "peanuts" in tool shipping tubes; they do not provide adequate protection. Do not use cardboard shipping tubes except for the smallest, lightest, and most rugged tools.
Select sturdy corrugated cardboard boxes in good condition for shipping well logging equipment (see details below). If available, use a combination of "bubble wrap" and expanded polystyrene "peanuts" when shipping well logging equipment (shipping materials are not cheap and we suggest you recycle to save time and money). However, a wide variety of cushioning materials are adequate in a pinch. A good rule of thumb is that no part of the shipped equipment should be closer than two inches from the inside edge of the shipping carton with cushioning material firmly filling all voids. If several pieces of equipment will be in the same box, they should be individually bubble wrapped, or at the very least taped together to prevent damage from internal movement. Use a good grade of carton sealing tape, and do not skimp. Pay special attention to corners; a little Styrofoam or extra cardboard protecting the corners of larger objects can make the difference between safe arrival and total destruction. Care is needed when shipping oddly shaped equipment like GOI / GO / MLS recorder channels (we have seen many destroyed because the protruding shaft was inadequately protected).
The size of a corrugated box is always expressed in three inside dimensions: first Length, then Width, then Height (sometimes called Depth). The measurements are always in that order, with length and width being the dimensions seen looking in through the open flaps of the box. This simple measurement rule holds true no matter how oddly shaped a box might be (very tall narrow boxes are no exception); violate this rule and you may receive a box that looks very different from what you thought you were ordering. We do not like "multi-depth" boxes because the circumferential creasing reduces strength. But any box can be "cut down" to reduce the height, turning a portion of the side walls into new flaps. Slit the corners to the new desired height, then use a straightedge to produce a clean bend (scoring is not necessary and weakens the box). A 15"x 12"x 10" box is the perfect size for shipping NIM (NIMS) modules (on their side); this particular size box is sometimes called a "file box". A 24"x 24" box of appropriate height is ideal for shipping rack mount oscilloscopes (T922R), or NIMS bins (Office Depot sells a non-standard 23"x 23"x 20" box that works well in a pinch).
Corrugated cardboard boxes come in various strength grades. The Box Manufacturer's Certificate (BMC) is usually circular and located on one of the bottom flaps; it specifies the strength rating of the box, and more importantly the gross weight limit (weight of box and contents). Exceeding the gross weight limit almost certainly guarantees that the carrier will refuse a claim if the shipment is damaged, even if excess value insurance was purchased. A corrugated board box may carry the old Mullen burst strength rating, or the newer edge crush test (ECT) rating (an alternate test allowed since 1990). Standard duty boxes are usually made from 200 pound per square inch (psi) burst strength cardboard which translates to a 32 psi ECT; these boxes are limited to 65 pounds gross weight for any size within the allowable range (specified on the BMC as the "Size Limit" or maximum outside united inches). Boxes made from 275 psi cardboard (44 ECT) are readily available, and allow a gross package weight of 95 pounds. Double wall and even triple wall corrugated cardboard boxes are available for those really heavy items. The following two tables give some guidance on box selection: