Safety First: Moving a university chemistry department - Convoi

Safety First: Moving a university chemistry department

THE RELOCATION CONVOI WAS CONTRACTED TO CARRY OUT ON BEHALF OF THE UNIVERSITY IN ERLANGEN WAS NOT GOING TO BE A WALK IN THE PARK. QUITE THE OPPOSITE IN FACT FOR, AS PART OF THE ASSIGNMENT, WE WERE ASKED TO MOVE AN UNKNOWN QUANTITY - 10,000 BOTTLES AND JARS - OF CHEMICALS FOR THE SCIENCE DEPARTMENT. A JOB FOR SPECIALISTS, NOT TO MENTION PEOPLE WITH A STEADY HAND!

Convoi moved the Organic Chemistry and Pharmacy & Food Chemistry Departments on behalf of the Friederich Alexander University Erlangen-Neurenberg (FAU). The departments were relocating from two old buildings in the inner city to a new-build on the university campus at the outskirts of the city. ‘A job right up Convoi’s ally’, Reinold Hofsink, Convoi International Commercial Manager explains. ‘Aside from getting all the office and laboratory equipment to the new premises, there was a sizeable quantity of hazardous substances to be moved, three aspects Convoi excels at. It did not take us long to convince the FAU that Convoi was the ideal partner for this particular job as our track-record in laboratory moves, hazardous substances included, for TU Delft, Shell and DSM, among others, definitely played in our favour.’Stringent safety requirements In this type of relocation project, Convoi has, aside from its specific logistical expertise, gained quite a reputation in matters of safety.
‘Laboratory relocations call for a specialist approach’, Hofsink continues, ‘for instance, the use of shock-absorbing mats for the glassware and sensitive equipment and movable containers on pneumatic tyres rather than nylon rollers. In addition, all the chemicals have to be moved under ADR conditions, which is quite an operation in itself. Our certified staff are required to move all the hazardous substances on the basis of special packing and transport lists.’Dusty basement Project Manager Armand Sollet – who was given the responsibility to ensure that the entire project would be done and dusted within the space of two weeks – volunteered two experienced foremen and Site Supervisor Ton van Ommen to help the university organise the move. ‘Men used to working in an academic environment’, Sollet elaborates ‘and who are familiar with the organizational structure and work culture there. They, amongst others helped to pack up the glassware and laboratory equipment.’

10,000 bottles and jars containing various chemicals that had been gathering dust in an equally dusty basement. ‘Our team dusted, qualified and categorised every single bottle and jar to prevent that any chemicals that could react with one another would not be transported within each other’s vicinity.

The greatest challenge in this particular job was moving the stockpile of chemical substances: 10,000 bottles and jars containing various chemicals that had been gathering dust in an equally dusty basement. ‘Our team dusted, qualified and categorised every single bottle and jar to prevent that any chemicals that could react with one another would not be transported within each other’s vicinity. An intensive and risky business. It goes without saying that this is always done by the highest safety standards, never without PPE and always with the appropriate fire extinguishers within reach.’Rivalry The work was completed by the given deadline. Sollet: ‘The thorough preparations by our foremen definitely contributed to that. And we had Lady Luck on our side: the student-like rivalry between the Organic Chemistry and Pharmacy Departments, hell-bent on outdoing one another in terms of speed and organisation. A godsend for any project manager! We were even asked to pick a winner, with a little “positive persuasion” in the form of a crate of beer! It just depicts the excellent collaboration between the Convoi crew and university staff. It pained us for the Organic Chemistry Department that – in spite of their generous gift – we were honour-bound to call Pharmacy the true winner.’At the end of this project, FAU expressed its appreciation about the work and recommended Convoi to a number of other universities.