Loading a Container for Albania

2015NovAlbaniaLoadingContainerDSCN2536On Saturday, 14 November 2015, a beefed up P4P crew loaded the eighth container bound for EcoVolis, our partner in Albania.

Loading is one of the P4P activities that happens behind the scenes, and the loading is a marvel to behold. These loadings take a combination of long experience, mechanical engineering, spatial awareness, young backs and muscles, brute strength, stamina, pizza, and the luck of the draw on what we have to load.

2015NovAlbaniaLoadingDSCN2542earlyLoadingContainers are not built to fit bicycles, so there are delicate geometric calculations on what goes where. Adult bikes are our primary product, but we always have kids’ bikes, too, of several different sizes, each with its own personal preferences about where and how it wants to be loaded. We use plywood and cardboard to stack and separate the bikes. We use whatever parts and tools we have to fill the nooks and crannies in the rows of bikes.

2015NovAlbaniaLoadingAlmostFullDSCN2548Cost of shipping is the same no matter what the container weighs, so the idea is to pack it as full as possible. Dave’s guidelines for processing bikes are very specific: pedals off, handlebars turned sideways and down, seat lowered – we aim to make the bike as narrow and as short as possible.

2015NovAlbaniaLoadingAlmostDoneDSCN2559A completely empty trailer is a daunting sight, but it starts to fill up pretty quickly. When all was said and done, here’s what went into the Albania container on Saturday: 483 bikes, 34 sewing machines, 10 wheels, 20 tires, 8 baskets, and 1 child bike-seat.

2015NovAlbaniaLoadingDoneDSCN2567Those were the larger items. The smaller items went into 43 gym bags that get stuffed wherever they fit: 31 sets of pedals, 7 sets of training wheels, 1 socket toolkit, 1 pump, 13 helmets, 3 saddles, 2 handlebar bags, 6 sets of pegs, 5 inner tubes, 2 brake assemblies, 2 handfuls of nuts and bolts, and 1 chain-breaking tool.

2015NovAlbaniaLoadingClosingDoorDSCN2569As Dave says, there’s no good way to finish the packing. We pack the left side all the way, then shut one of the two rear doors. Then we fill every remaining cubic millimeter in a way, we hope, that won’t cause a huge landslide when the container is opened. Our partners have learned to open the doors gingerly on arrival!

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