Shipping Problems for the 2003 Season

I know that Team 45 had some major problems with FedEx during one of their regionals, and after finally receiving our crate back, we noticed significant damage along with problems of our own. Some of these include the complete obliteration of handscrews on the crate (used because they are easy to use and save time), chipping and shredding of the wood on our crate, markings on several sides, such as scrapes and black marks, and FedEx delivering the crate to the wrong building on campus! Because of the wrongful delivery, Ball State University personnel had to drag the crate - on its side, nonetheless! - across campus on a small furniture dolly. Of course, when we opened it up, the robot wasn’t competely in pieces, but screws were falling out all over the place. We did put in 7-10 pieces of styrofoam to absorb some of the shock, but apparently our poor crate and our poor robot went through an awful lot during its little journey.

Did any other team have similar experiences?
Darn FedEx. :frowning:

Here’s a shot of just one of the handscrews. This particular one had to be sawed off just for us to open the crate. The threads are all smashed and ruined, and the wingnut was bent so hard that it began to crack.



Our shipping problems were not really FedEx’s fault.

We messed up with getting shipping coordinated between St. Louis and Pittsburgh… so we asked FedEx to do a “next day” delivery to the Pitt Peterson Center (with FIRST’s approval). FedEx messed up by not following through on the next day delivery… which saved us the $1200 cost. They had a mechanical failure on a plane which turned the 1 day delivery into a 2 day delivery.

All in all, our problem was our own fault. We put the pressure on FedEx to help us fix our mistake, and they did what they could. We got our money back since they did not deliver in 1 day, but we take accountabilty for messing up the shipping in the first place.

As for your crate damage situation, I hope you took pictures and documented the damage. Excessive damage is unexcuseable, but we always expect some wear and tear on these crates.

Good luck,

Andy B.

Many of the teams at St.Louis arrived to find a handling bill from the drayage company for $45 (or so) for freight in excess of 400 pounds. Pure and simple, their scale was set such that a 398 pound crate weighs 416 pounds. We packed our crate on my scales, which have been shown to be accurate in the past.

Many people were working on the drayage company about this problem, but welcome to the world of monopolies! The same logic that justifies $3 for a hot dog allows the drayage company to set their scales wherever they want.

A couple us of figured we would check the calibration of the pallet scales on Saturday. A couple people and a couple batteries came out to 401 pounds. Wonder of wonders! Now the scale reads something like 384 pounds! They must have figured someone would check the scales, and they turned the cal down a bunch!

So, what did we learn? Next time, ship the crate about 20 pounds light or be ready to pay…

How about this shocker…

After packing up from the GLR to send our box to the
Canadian Regional I’m told that FEDEX doesn’t do
back to back competition shipping - so I had to fork over
$780 to pay for Yellow Freight.

Whats with that?

we had a similar problem. we shipped our crate(150lbs max) with our 120 pound robot, one extra battery, and the control systems, and absolutely nothing else and they said we weighed 430+ lbs. Im no math genius, but I can tell that we didnt way any more than 330 lbs. we had to pay 48 bucks, but could of challenged it. Midwest drayage was going to send a rep to our pits at Sac and make us repack the crate, and weigh it, to see if it was under 400lbs. Since this was expected to take over an hour, we thought it was better to spend the 48 dollars just to save our time.


Like Norm & Cory we showed up to our regional and learned that we were overweight, way overweight. Our shipping department at Motorola weighed the crate when it left and it was 363, but the drayage company at GLR said it was 572 (the numbers may be off by 10, I can’t remember them exactly). We tried to argue that a 130 lb robot, a crate, and 2 batteries cannot way 572 lbs, but they wouldn’t hear it. The rep said he weighed it himself and he was certain it was correct, but offered to let us weigh the crate on Saturday after packing it up again. So on Saturday we packed it exactly like we did in Feb and by a miracle our crate came in under 400 lbs. They wouldn’t give us our money back because they said “we could have packed our crate differently this time.”

Did any other teams have weight discrepancies at GLR or any other regional? If enough of us had similar issues, we can get on the drayage company’s case.

Wow. I’d be super duper P O’ed. What’s the point of him coming over & you repacking your crate if the guy’s not gonna give you your money back if he was wrong. Did he just want the chance to rub it in your face if it went over. What a jerk. Sheesh.

Back to the original subject,
We usually have damage similar to that described in the beginning of this thread to our crate.

Last year, the feet got knocked off at each destination and the lock got smashed twice. After the second smashing, we left the broken lock on and remove the hinge when we open the crate.

We just assume that the crate is going to take some abuse and hope that the robot inside survives.

By the way, it’s always good practice to check all screws after shipping. With the kinds of vibration that you experience in a truck for many hours, they have a tendency to back out. This has been normal behavior for the last couple of years.

We used to loctite all fasteners. We now rivet everything.

Our team had exactly the same problems. Virtually nothing but batteries and the robot and controls in the crate and we were told we exceeded the 400 lb limit. When I complained that I wanted to be reweighed they said they would not allow it because we could change what we had in there.

It then cost me about $600 to send my robot from Cleveland to Great Lakes. This is more than it cost me to go from Great Lakes to Orlando last year. Two years ago when Yellow was the shipper of choice for FIRST, the same route cost me $100 with a 600 lb crate.

How can this be? We MUST ban together to ensure this does not happen again.

We had problems with shipping, too. At the J&J Mid-Atlantic, our robot showed up late(10:30 Thurs.) and then, we opened up the crate to find our batteries all over the place, a joystick craced in half, and tons of damage to our robot (including: smashed light, ruined 25-pin connector, numerous spade connectors broken, and worst of all: part of our frame bent in 1/4"). Then we looked over the crate some more only to find foot-prints going up the SIDE of our box!!! I find it hard to believe that our robot could make it from PA to AZ and back, but got destroyed from Philly to Rutgers!!!:confused: I can only hope it’s in one piece for Nat’s this week.

Yeah it was all busted up but it was also all fixed in less than 2 hrs. Our controls are now comprised of epoxy zip ties and duct tape.

Ya 157 has a big problem also, we dont know where i our robot is as of today, April 7. Now you can’t say that does suck.

At the Southern California Regional one of our rookie teams was told their crate was 140lbs over weight. They were worried about getting billed for the overweight again when it was shipped home. Given their robot was about 90-100 lbs and they didn’t ship that much stuff, I kind of doubted it. Especially since reading this thread

I told them that:

A) If they were gouged, they were not alone, but there wasn’t a whole lot that could be done about it at that point (Saturday)

B) Since it was their last competition, they should take as much stuff as possible home in their cars, including the robot if possible.

C) If the shipper said they were overweight again, then have the crate re-weighed before it was emptied or unloaded.

D) If they could get a pick-up, just load everything and forget about shipping. Fortunately they are just a half hour down the freeway from the competition site.

Not sure what they did as I haven’t talked to them since.

From home to Phoenix we had our 129 lb robot, 2 batteries, and a tarp and we were told we were 20 lbs over. Our crate is the max dimensions and made of 3/4" plywood and a few 2x4’s. I doubt our crate weighs 263 pounds.

While I do agree that some of the robots on this thread have received aggressive handling, remember that Fed-EX is donating this service to FIRST. Before everybody starts bashing the shipping companies remember they are providing this for free.

Also, the reason that Rob Gerber had to pay for yellow freight is because Fed-EX does not ship these crates priority. It is free, so it is not on the top of their priority list. We had to do the same thing from VCU to Annapolis.

As for the accuracy of dray age scales-- they are used for everything from computers to 1000 lb. crates. I would not expect the scales to be that accurate.

That being said, just make sure you reinforce your crate very heavily. We have never had any problems and I think that is due to the fact our crate used to ship computer monitors, and is very sturdy. We also tie down everything in at least two points.
Just some thoughts,