When Machinery Moving Means Breaking Into Prison: Case Study
Manufacturing companies know the challenges of moving heavy machinery into new facilities. Whether it’s moving existing machines from one factory to another or transporting new equipment to a recently-opened facility, the hoops one must jump through for each of these options can be daunting.
As I’ve reported in a previous article, machinery moves must be plotted and planned with the precision of a military operation. These transportation challenges are on the higher end of the logistics complexity continuum when compared to most other LTL or truckload transactions. Manufacturing machines are heavy, awkwardly shaped—most don’t fit neatly into a crate—and bristle with cantankerous electronics.
We Were Hired to “Break Into” Prison
One of the most challenging moves I’ve led at LPS is when we had to “break” into a prison to deliver and set up precision machinery and instruments that manufacture eyeglasses for the facility’s prisoners. Not only did this move involve transporting delicate instruments, but it was further complicated by having to adhere to strict security measures required by the prison.
Here’s how it unfolded.
LPS was commissioned by a large optical company that procures and installs eyeglass production equipment for labs across the country, many in national chains such as Walmart. Its customer was the California prison authority, which had the lab installed and set up to manufacture and craft eyeglasses and contacts for the state’s prison population.
Like all machinery moves, the first step is a site survey. We sent a small team to California to survey the facility to find out what we had for access doors, pathways, power and other items. In addition to the routine site survey checklist, we submitted a list of all the people on the delivery and installation team with social security numbers, driver’s licenses, and other credentials. It took about three weeks to clear everyone to work inside the prison.
The optical equipment was manufactured in Europe and flown to Los Angeles—18 pieces ranging from 350 to 6,500 pounds. We picked up the equipment on three tractor trailer loads from the airport and transported them to the prison.
Under guard escort at the prison, we unloaded the machinery and moved each piece into a staging area away from the general prison population. There, we could use all our tools to uncrate the equipment, but once we began moving each piece into the new lab, we could only bring in larger tools and items that couldn’t be concealed in pockets—a precaution against prisoners co-opting one as a weapon.
Because of the added layer of security, the methodical move took three days. One-by-one, each device was moved through prison hallways into the laboratory, set up and wired. It was a very slow job, but it went without a hitch.
I’d like to leave you with advice that someone once shared with me: No matter how complex the machinery move, the difference in success or failure comes down to spending the time upfront creating your plan. Do your site survey; visit the area, don’t rely on photographs. And hire the best team you can find to get the job done. Hire certified riggers and make sure you perform your due diligence on everyone.
Finally, the time you spend planning upfront can save your company a lot in the long run.
Have a machinery move in your company’s future? Let’s work on it together.