How Modular Homes Are Packed For Shipment

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Modular homes are often wrapped in a tight cover such as a shrink package, to ensure safe shipment.  Most modular home manufacturers follow this packing system and carefully wrap every module to protect it from the elements before shipping it to the building site. Yet every company follows a very different packing process depending on the distance traveled and protection needs.

When needed, the following procedure will ensure outstanding protection of the module during transportation:

  1. Prepare the module
  2. Tie or remove loose objects
  3. Protect corners and seal openings
  4. Plastic wrapping and sealing

Wrapping isn’t always necessary since modular homes are designed with the transportation needs in mind and every module is built to successfully resist the shipment on its own. Still, it is common to feel uncertain about the shipment of your newly built modular home. To understand the amount of packing a module should go through it is helpful to understand the possible drawbacks encountered during transportation.

Modules are built for transportation

Packing and preparing the modules for transportation starts with the modular home design since the most successful safety shipment strategy is to build every module as a transportation-resistant unit. The shipment from the manufacturing location to the building site is most often done by road in a flatbed truck, a transportation method that exposes the module to considerable tremors comparable to an earthquake. 

Therefore, the structure of every module is built following parameters similar to those of an earthquake-resistant house: with enough strength and flexibility to resist shipment shaking. Though the module isn’t delivered as a structure alone, all finishes are completed in the factory which means they should be carefully chosen to ensure they offer enough flexibility so they don’t crack during shipment. 

Modules are usually equipped with flexible finishes to ensure that when the structure of the module naturally bends to withstand the transportation tremors, the finishes don’t crack. Tiles, for example, have a rigid nature, though they can be laid in a way that both the glue and tile separation allow some flexibility [1].

Packing procedure to reduce accidental damage

Despite being built to resist the vibration induced by transportation, most manufacturers choose to carefully wrap the modules to protect them from the elements. The procedure described below is a complete wrapping method mainly followed by modules traveling long distances, though some companies might skip some steps if the traveling needs don’t require them.

1. Prepare the module

Before any packing starts it is very important to clean the module thoroughly from any possible construction leftovers. If any small particles of dust or debris are left around the finished module during its transportation they could cause damage. Despite often being very small, these bits and pieces could be projected during transportation which could scratch or harm the module itself or even other vehicles. It is convenient to dust every area of the module with a vacuum cleaner or an air blower paying special attention to gaps or dead ends. 

Also, any loose object should be properly tied or removed, paying special attention to furniture and plumbing. Most modular homes are delivered with integrated furniture such as kitchen cabinets and while these are strongly fixed to the walls, it is important to double-check and fasten any possible loose components such as drawers and cabinet doors.

Plumbing pipes and fixtures should also be doubled checked. They are also installed in the factory and placed below the ground floor modules to be easily connected to the main lines once on-site [2]. It is important to ensure all the plumbing systems are well tied within the volume of the module since detachment could severely damage the installation.

2. Protect corners and seal openings

Corners and edges are very delicate during transportation and require some extra attention to ensure their integrity is maintained during shipping. It is recommended to pad them with corner foam cushions, cardboard, or any other corner or edge protector.  In the unfortunate case that the corner of the module hits an obstacle during its transportation, the damage will be less severe if properly padded.

Some elements such as windows and doors are especially delicate as well and should be carefully protected. While the frame is already designed to support the tremors suffered during transportation and the glass installed is quite sturdy, it could still break if hit by a rock or debris along the road if not properly protected. 

Additionally, any openings such as open windows, doors, or chimneys should be properly sealed before transportation starts. Leaving an open cavity could severely damage the module during shipping since uneven wind pressures could cause damage to the construction and any flying object could enter the module and scratch or crack the finishes. 

3. Covering the module

This step is particularly important if it is expected for the module to travel while raining or snowing since it creates a waterproof barrier. Also, modules traveling long distances highly benefit from complete coverage. The wrapping can be done in a multitude of different ways, though it is very important to ensure its tightness. 

A wrapping that is too loose or that allows the air in, can easily cause severe damage to the modules due to abrasion or traveling difficulties. A shrink tight wrapping that is completely sealed and protected from the elements is the safest and most efficient solution [3]. Moreover, this kind of wrapping seals the module completely.

A modular home isn’t properly protected against rain or snow until every module is assembled and sealed on-site and a single module could be critically damaged if water would get in. Shrink wrapping creates a strong barrier against moisture, protecting the module during its transportation. Plus this coverage becomes a protective barrier against flying debris or any possible light obstacle encountered along the road [4]. 

Important things to consider before shipping the modules

The packing and protecting works highly differ from one manufacturing company to another, some invest in heavy-duty protections while others transport the modules as they are. Every company designs its shipment methods according to its needs and experience: a short distance shipment through a smooth route might need a lot less protection than an overseas international shipment. Therefore, the module preparation will highly vary depending on the transportation characteristics. 

Some factors should be considered before shipping the module:

  • Flying debris: Flying debris or rocks are especially common on dirt roads, those modules that need to travel to non-paved roads should consider this possibility when packing the module for shipment. Though the risk of the module being hit by rocks, flying debris raises with the distance traveled. Long distances and routes taking high-speed highways should consider this factor to avoid damage [4]. 
  • Loose objects: Loose objects can cause severe damage during transportation, it is important to tightly secure or remove any loose object both from the inside and outside the module. 
  • Objects sticking out: Any elements sticking out of the module’s volume should be avoided, if possible they should be removed, taped in or highly protected to avoid accidents or breakage.
  • Rain or snow: Moisture can be highly damaging if it reaches areas that haven’t been properly treated to resist water. While modules are structurally resistant on their own they aren’t water-resistant. 
  • Choosing the right trailer: The module is an overly large and heavy object that requires a very specific type of track to be transported. The tracks chosen to carry the modules are flatbed trucks, though these need to offer airbag suspension to reduce vibrations [5].

Modular home manufacturers and transportation companies have extensive experience and after studying every particular situation take the best packing decision to ensure the modules arrive safely at the building site. Still, consult with your manufacturer to understand their approach when buying a modular home.

References

  1. Laher, S. (2020, December 2) “My tiles are cracking what do I do next!?” Tiles Direct https://www.tiles-direct.com/blog/2020/12/cracked-tiles-problem-solving/
  2. Jackson, C. (2022, January 12) Constructing plumbing systems in modular homes and buildings Kevin Szabo Jr. Plumbinghttps://www.kevinszabojrplumbing.net/blog/2022/1/12/constructing-plumbing-systems-in-modular-homes-and-buildings
  3. Modular Buildings – Case Studies Rhino Shrink Wrap https://www.rhinoshrinkwrap.com/case-studies/modular-buildings/
  4. Considering Modular Construction. Here is how shrink wrap can help Pacific Scaffold Company https://www.pacificscaffold.net/considering-modular-construction-here-s-how-shrink-wrap-can-help
  5. Does relocatable home transport cause much damage to my new home? West Built Homeshttps://blog.westbuilt.com.au/does-transport-damage-a-modular-home 

Fig. 1.  Modular Buildings – Case Studies Rhino Shrink Wraphttps://www.rhinoshrinkwrap.com/case-studies/modular-buildings/