Your laboratory relocation doesn’t have to be stressful

Pack for lab relocation

Moving personal or professional belongings can be tricky, but throw in some breakables or hazardous chemicals, and you face a whole new set of challenges. For example, if you are planning for a medical or research laboratory relocation, you will have to consider the obstacles related to transporting delicate equipment and hazardous substances.

Lab equipment includes fragile items such as beakers, test tubes, flasks, and substances that can be damaging when they come into contact with other materials. As a result, you’ll need to pack your items in a manner that protects them throughout their journey and avoids unnecessary risks to people or environments.

How to pack for a lab move

The first, and one of the most critical elements of lab relocation, is packing up all your equipment. You’ll need something sturdy in which to ship your items. Then, expert lab movers will package them in a way that prevents damage.

You could package your lab’s equipment yourself but doing so incredibly time-consuming and you’ll also put your items at risk of damage. The best option for packing for a lab move is to pay an expert crating company to pack your items in custom crates made especially for your needs.

Crating companies specialize in getting large, uniquely shaped, or fragile goods to their destination intact by using custom-built wooden crates. 

How to ship your lab equipment during laboratory relocation

Once you’ve packaged your lab equipment in a way that complies with regulations and guarantees safety, you’ll need to find a shipping company to get it from A to B. The easiest way to organize shipment is to work with a crating company with shipping partners. This way, your relocation can be managed from start to finish by the same expert company. 

Things to consider when packing for a lab move


If you work in a lab, you probably use hazardous materials regularly. Hazardous materials, also known as hazmat, can be anything from toxic waste or weapons to hand sanitizer or nail polish remover. Hazmat could injure somebody or damage something if the product breaks, spills, or comes into contact with a particular surface during transit. These materials can be solids, liquids, or gases. The commonality is that they could harm people, property, or the environment during the shipping process if not properly packaged. 

When shipping chemicals used in a lab, they’ll need to be packaged appropriately to avoid harm to people or the environment. In 2021, there was more than $53 million worth of property damage and over 20 people injured related to hazardous materials, so it’s crucial to keep hazmat safe in transit. 

Opt for a packaging service that offers hazmat shipping to make your lab move as stress-free as possible. Hazmat shipping not only requires the items to be packaged in a particular way, but you’ll also need the correct paperwork for the items to be shipped. If you work with an experienced hazmat packing company, they’ll be able to fill out the paperwork correctly to avoid delays, or worse, a hefty fine.

Check this list if you’re unsure whether what you need to ship is considered a hazardous material

Protecting your items

Sensitive lab equipment is blocked, strapped, and cushioned for a laboratory relocation
Sensitive lab equipment is blocked, strapped, and cushioned for a laboratory relocation.

Items that break in transit can be expensive and time-consuming to replace. Plus, any potential breakages soon become safety risks if you’re shipping hazardous materials. Most lab equipment is fragile, and with many pieces of equipment being non-reactive glass, you’ll need extra padding on your package to prevent unnecessary breakages. In addition, when shipping calibrated equipment, you’ll need to pack it securely to retain its integrity.

To protect your valuable items from damage, look for a crating company with foil bag and vapor barrier or foam options. Foil bag and vapor barrier products are used on cargo shipped via air or ocean transportation to offer protection from any moisture or water damage. This type of insulation is also great for electrical items and machinery, which can be damaged when they come into contact with excessive moisture. Foam, on the other hand, provides cushioning and acts as a shock absorber for turbulence throughout the journey, so it’s ideal for the more delicate items in your inventory.

On-site crating services

When packaging lab equipment for a move, it is advisable to minimize the amount of transport to avoid additional equipment damage risk. With this in mind, it might be more convenient to have fragile items or hazmat packaged on-site at your existing lab. That way, you don’t risk the items being damaged on the way to your house or the crating company premises, and it saves you a trip. The good news is that some crating companies offer on-site crating services, so you can streamline the overseas shipping process and minimize the risk to your goods. 

When relocating a lab overseas

The type of paperwork and, to a certain extent, the packaging you require when relocating overseas differs from that required for moving to another state. For example, if you’re relocating your lab abroad, you may need to load your goods onto an ocean container for shipping. Ocean containers require specialist knowledge, such as how to brace and block the ocean container, so search for a crating company with this skillset if relocating your lab abroad.

If you’re relocating your laboratory abroad, check the destination country’s regulations. Some items might be forbidden to import or may require extra paperwork. Contact your shipping company for advice if you’re shipping abroad and need support with the paperwork.

Top tips for moving lab equipment

Clean and sterilize your items

Many pieces of lab equipment come into contact with dangerous chemicals, liquids, or other substances. To avoid harm to anybody involved in the shipping process, sterilize equipment such as test tubes before packing them. 

That way, you’ll enjoy clean, ready-to-use equipment once it arrives in the new lab location. 

Keep hazardous materials separate

When wrapping multiple items in one box or case, don’t mix any hazmat with non-hazardous items. Hazardous materials need to be labeled in a particular way to keep people safe and avoid delays or fines resulting from incorrect paperwork.

Start by checking the list of hazardous materials, then keep items that fall into this category separate from other equipment. Once you’ve established which materials are hazmat, pack these together and hand them over to the laboratory movers for correct packaging and labeling,

Make an inventory of items for laboratory relocation

Many laboratories, and their equipment, have small parts that can easily get lost when shipping large quantities. To make sure all items arrive safely at their destination, make an inventory of every individual item before packing them.

When packing the crates, record the items that go into each crate, so you can get to what you need easily and quickly at the other end of the journey. Plus, you’ll get a better view of what equipment or items you’ll need to order when you arrive at the new location.

Once your goods have arrived, make another inventory of the items to check you have everything you need. 

Consider insurance

Most shipments proceed smoothly, but there is always the possibility of something happening to your package during its journey. For example, if you are shipping lab equipment, there are bound to be some specialty items that would be difficult to replace if they broke in transit.

To avoid the worst-case scenario of costly and time-consuming replacements, purchase insurance for all the items in your shipment.

Keep your staff informed

If you have ongoing research projects at the time of the move, you’ll need to keep your staff well-informed of the moving timeline.

While it is possible to ship ongoing projects, it’s much simpler to transfer equipment that’s not currently in use, so encourage staff to wrap up projects as best they can before the move.

Plan for placement after laboratory relocation

Lab equipment can be large and bulky, making it less ideal to fit through small doors or spaces. Once your goods arrive at their destination, make sure you’ve planned the best way to set up equipment in the new lab.

You might benefit from using a pallet or other equipment to get your items from one place to another. It’s also worth measuring up the dimensions of your new location beforehand. That way you can pack up your equipment in a manner that lends itself to easy unpacking. 

Proclaim your new location

Once you’ve relocated to your new site, it can be easy to breathe a sigh of relief that your items made it intact and forget to do the important work of updating the location information of your laboratory. To avoid the costly process of reshipping items to your new location, make sure you change your lab’s shipping address on all correspondence or regular deliveries. In addition, let any stakeholders you work with regularly know of your new location for future work, and update any contact details on your website, social media accounts, and email signature.


How can I keep ongoing research safe during a laboratory relocation?

If you’re moving existing research to a new location, you’ll need to do everything possible to ensure that the conditions required by the substances stay consistent throughout your shipment’s journey.

Maintaining the integrity of current research typically requires specialized climate or humidity-controlled environments, so discuss these needs with your crating company. Research that requires a dry environment, for example, may benefit from a foil bag and vapor barrier to keep moisture at bay.

What’s the best type of packaging for shipping lab equipment?

When it comes to shipping valuable lab equipment, the chances are that many of your items will be expensive, fragile, and breakable. With this in mind, custom crates and solid wood packaging are best suited to transporting valuable items. Not only do wooden crates boast eco-friendly credentials, but they’re also incredibly sturdy. In addition, custom wooden crates offer your items protection from the elements. Wooden crates have little fluctuation in internal temperature – ideal when you are transporting ongoing research that requires stable conditions.

Plus, wooden crates can withstand much more moving and lifting than other materials, which is ideal for packages that need to be picked up by a machine or loading onto an ocean container for transportation. Heavy-duty wooden crates carry up to 7000 pounds of weight, so this packaging guarantees the safe arrival of heavy items such as machinery and electronic equipment.

What does hazmat repackaging involve?

Hazmat repacking involves taking hazardous material and properly repacking the contents to meet IMDG, DOT, and IATA requirements. As well as ensuring the shipment is packaged correctly, any hazmat shipment requires a hazardous declaration so it can ship on the corresponding freight mode.

What’s the estimated cost of laboratory relocation services?

With so many factors at play, a consultation is necessary to give an accurate estimate of how much it costs to move your lab to a new location. In addition, the shipping costs will vary greatly depending on whether you’re relocating abroad or to another state.

The more crates you move, the more costs you will incur. Similarly, if you require specialist services such as hazmat repackaging or on-site crating, you can expect to pay more.

Laboratory relocation services you can trust

When relocating a laboratory, you need the help of expert research lab or medical equipment movers. The best crating companies for relocating a lab include packing, hazmat repackaging, and shipping as part of the service.

Here at South Crate Shore and Pack, we work hard, so you don’t have to. With years of experience shipping breakable items, hazmat, and electronics, we’re experts in ensuring your lab equipment and supplies get from A to B without any issues. From on-site crating to ocean container loading and more, we offer a wide range of services to reduce lab relocation’s stress. For more information on how we can support you, contact us today

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