Shipping Crate Height Change for 2018

now that we’ve discussed it a lot, folks will probably catch on. It’s all good

Previous manuals stated 70" for North American teams, 60" for international teams.

I’d put $100 on FIRST switching to the more restrictive definition so there’s no possible way for a team that needs to ship via air freight misreading the rules and thinking that they can make a 70" crate that then does not fit in the plane it’s being shipped in.

There is no logistics reason that would make sense for a change for the vast majority of teams that are shipping via fedex ground freight.

I haven’t dealt with this yet (let’s hope we make it this year :slight_smile: ), but I was wondering how you take it apart if the robot’s still in the bag. Is there some kind of allowed period so that it can be put in a crate?

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Actually those of us who qualify at DCMPs were under the 60" rule last season as this requirement is dictated by FedEx air freight specifications.

Maybe different regions work differently? I do not believe New England teams were air shipped, and our crate was certainly not less than 60" tall.


I did actually, because a while back I read this 2014 long-form article about how the pallet ecosystem works and doesn’t work. It’s interesting.

If it is going on a truck, the 60 or 70" probably doesn’t matter, Floor space is the premium. Trucks are loaded with a fork lift. If it has to go air freight. IE later events & short time frame + long distance, it might end up on its side from height limits of the plane. Rather trying to sort this out, First & Fed ex probably just made a blanket statement. Please note that this is pure speculation on my part. :]

Here’s FedEx’s shipping guidelines, the chart below is found on the last page:

NPR’s Planet Money podcast also recently re-aired a similar episode on pallets.

We were in the process of building a new crate this year already, and fortunately caught this change in time to adjust.

Another significant change is what is allowed to go in the crate:

Contents Information
• Be filled with ONLY your robot, bumpers and batteries.
o Do Not ship any tools, first aid kits, t-shirts or other items in your robot crate.

As a team that has always shipped extra stuff along in the crate (often including: robot cart, tools, flags, banners, pit flooring, pit structure, buttons, spare parts, etc), this change is likely an even bigger impact than the crate height change. We will either have to find other transport for these items, make due without them, or buy items locally just for the event.


The world really needs a sarcasm font.

+1 But I would have to pretty much use it all the time.

That is the assumption we are operating under as well.

We took the lift off the drive chassis in the pits after the competition, before bagging. If it had been the past couple of years, we would have bagged the lift separately from the rest of the robot, but in 2015 you still had to put the robot in one bag. It was a challenge securing the pieces to each other so they would fit in the crate we hadn’t built yet in the short time we had, and almost as much fun to secure/pad that oddball shape into the crate.

It’s important to remember that there is no requirement to make your crate out of wood. The reason most crates are typically made from wood is because they’re disposed of once used. Since most FRC teams willbe reusing their crate at some point investing in a lighter, thinner and more durable crate made of other materials may be advantageous. This is particularly important for international teams who likely have restrictions on the type of wood being used.

Most Militaries use rugged plastic or fibreglass crates for shipping gear. In the battlebot community it’s become quite common to buy these crates from goverment surplus for shipping the robot. While most of these are probably too large for the FRC specs they might be a good source of inspiration for more rugged and reusable designs.

We just needed to make a $94 000 air freight shipment of a machine. Because the machine was higher than 62" (90"), the shipment needed to go on a dedicated freighter. If it was <=62" it could have gone in the hold of a passenger aircraft as cargo. If we had known we would have placed the machine on its side and saved $50 000.

Speculation: 62" is the real limit, 60" is for “tolerance stack”. 70" is what FedEx planes are configured (as pure freighters) to handle - as per the document above. I also know that sometimes carriers buy space on commercial aircraft if it is economically feasible (for example, FedEx does not fly to Africa, but uses other cargo carriers and also the cargo holds of commercial aircraft).