Complex and fragile laboratory relocations planning does not begin with trucks and equipment. The starting point is thorough strategic planning and experienced leadership.
George Rohlfing of Brookline Transportation Company (BTI) was on his way to Spain for a family vacation when he received word of winning the bid for the relocation of a butterfly lab from UC Berkeley to the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. He immediately delayed the holiday plans and winged his way to California to personally supervise the sensitive project.
The life of a butterfly is precarious to begin with. Relocating that delicate species is an even greater challenge.
Dr. Nipam Patel, PhD, director of the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), his life’s work was at stake. More than 700 butterflies and sensitive equipment were involved.
The first step required developing a reasonable and actionable project management timeline.
Then the added value of decades of lab relocation experience came into play. BTI made the recommendation to ship cold goods and freezer goods separately. Rohlfing arranged to ship the frozen samples in a complex, double back up system involving MINUS 80 c and Minus 20 c, freezers–along with LNG DEWARS containing LN2. Arrangements were made to top off additional LN2 along the way. All systems were monitored constantly via cellular technology, direct to the cab of the transport vehicle.
Packing the butterfly samples was particularly precarious, as the butterflies were contained in specific order and pinned for display. Standard off-the-shelf containers could not be used. So, Rohlfing developed a strategy to pack and transport the butterflies upright to best protect them during the loading and transport process.
On the cross country trip home, Rohlfing’s travel plans had to be changed as weather disrupted the trip from San Francisco to Phoenix for the connecting flight to Boston.
As luck would have it, the trip was rerouted to Seattle, where a new connecting flight on Alaska Airlines was waiting. A stewardess on the connecting flight was decorated in butterflies–butterfly apron, butterfly pins, butterfly scarf and butterfly rings. You can call it karma or perhaps a sign of a universe being in sync.
Successful transportation of the lab, however, was not the end of the story. Careful and timely delivery, set up, unpacking and placement into the new lab at Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) Woods Hole, MA was also critical. BTI’s crew orchestrated that as well.
Dr. Nipam Patel, Phd can attest to the thought, care and effort that transported his life’s work from West to East Coast.
“We had to move an entire lab from one coast to the other. That included refrigerators/freezers at temperature, laboratory equipment, cabinets of delicate butterfly specimens, liquid nitrogen dewars, glassware, etc. We were extremely concerned about any rattling in the truck and the possibility of antennas and wings falling off butterfly specimens. Organization and proper labeling of packed equipment, fridge/freezers staying plugged in and cold were also concerns. George Rohlfing and his team were very attentive to those concerns and a pleasure to work with. We felt like we were in good hands and the successful move of our lab from coast to coast was proof-positive of that.”
Dr. Nipam Patel, Ph.D., Marine Biological laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts