Packing and Palletizing a Server RMA for Freight Shipment

For shipping back servers to our location for RMAs, we require that all servers sized 2U and larger are shipped to us via freight, on a pallet. This minimizes the possible damage to the server while in transit to our location for repairs.
This article will walk you through the process of properly packing and palletizing your RMA, in order to best prevent damage during shipping.

Required Materials

To pack and palletize your server RMA, you will need the following materials:
  • A. A double-walled cardboard box. If the original packaging and packing materials (foam inserts, etc.) are available, please use these to pack the server in. If these are not available or are not in sufficient shape for shipping, please use a comparably sized double-walled cardboard box. Note that a double-walled cardboard box is named so for its double-walled construction (see insert), providing extra rigidity.
  • B. The RMA server itself. Only the server is necessary; no power cables or accessories are necessary. 
  • C. Expanding foam packaging. If the packing material used in the original packaging is not in sufficient shape, please use expanding foam packaging to secure the server inside of the packaging.
  • D. Packing tape, to seal the box once packed.
  • E. A pallet. While a plastic pallet is pictured here, a pallet of any material (e.g. wood or metal) is acceptable.
  • F. Shrink wrap. This is used to wrap around the server, in order to protect it from weather during shipping.
  • G. A pair of scissors.
  • H. A banding tool. This is used to tighten the banding during the strapping process.
  • I. A banding sealer. This is used to seal the banding during the strapping process.
  • J. Banding. This is the material used to band the server to the pallet.
  • K. Banding protectors. These are used on the corners where the banding meets the box, so that the banding does not hurt the box while under tension.
  • L. Banding seals. These are used to seal the bands.

*** In the Event you do not have Banding equipment, you can use ratchet straps instead. These will be returned to you upon shipment of the repaired server with the pallet.

Once you have these tools and materials, you have everything required to pack and palletize your server RMA.

Packing the Server

1. Plan out how you will use the expanding foam packaging to pack the server. Here, we are using Sealed Air Instapak Quick foam packaging.
2. Outside of the box, activate the expanding foam packaging, then place the packaging in the box. Consult the manufacturer for specific directions on activating and handling the expanding foam packaging.
3. While the foam packaging is expanding, nestle the server inside the box. After the foam finishes expanding, make sure the server is immobilized by the foam and cannot shake or move laterally.
4. If necessary, apply another layer of expanding foam packaging on top of the server. Activate the foam packaging and layer it on top of the server, then fold down the top of the box and hold it down. Be careful not to place your hands at the edges of the cardboard box, as steam from the foam expansion process may escape through these edges and burn you.
5. Once the expanding foam packaging has been applied to the box, seal the box with packing tape. Make sure to apply tape across the top and sides of the box, to prevent the box flaps from opening accidentally. Make sure the server is immobilized inside the box and does not move when the box is shaken or jostled. If the server is able to move significantly inside the box, it is not properly packed.

Palletizing the Server

1. Place the server box on the center of the pallet.
2. Wrap the pallet with shrink wrap, to prevent rain or snow from damaging the packaging during transit.
3. Place the cardboard banding protectors where you plan the banding to sit on top of the box. Thread the banding under the pallet, then over the box. Thread the banding through the pallet as close to the box as you can; here we use the spaces between the lattice on the pallet to thread the banding up through the pallet. Place the banding under the gripper on the tool to hold this part of the banding in place.
4. Cut the banding from the roll, leaving enough room to leave on top of the box. Place the banding on top of the box and thread it through the cutter and tension wheel on the tool.
5. Lift the handle on the tool up and forward repeatedly to pull the banding tight. Make sure the banding is tight enough that the server cannot budge, but not so tight that the box is crushed or damaged.
6. Slide the seal around the banding through the open end.
7. Open the banding sealer and place it over the seal. Make sure the seal is sitting inside the sealer and that both straps are inside the seal. Pull the handles on the sealer together until the seal is clamped down, then push the handles open.
8. Trim the excess banding.
9. Repeat the process for as many bands as you wish to set on the pallet. We highly recommend using at least two bands on a pallet to ensure the box will not leave the pallet.
10. If this RMA is in-warranty, we will provide a Bill of Lading (BOL) for you to use. If this is an out-of-warranty RMA, you will need to create your own Bill of Lading. Print out three copies of this Bill of Lading, and secure them to the pallet by sliding it underneath the banding.
11. With the server packed, the box palletized, and the Bill of Lading attached to the pallet, your pallet is now ready for pickup. Schedule a pickup with the freight provider.
By palletizing your server RMA and shipping it via freight, we ensure that the server experiences the lowest chance for shipping damage, which would otherwise further complicate the RMA process.
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