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Mobile Compactor Storage System for Protecting Collections in Tropical Environment


Tropical climates subject natural history collections to severe environmental hazards, particularly through high moisture levels and the organisms that thrive under these conditions. Under traditional storage, using non-airtight wooden cabinets, dry collections are constantly threatened with mold growth.

To reduce the problems associated with a tropical climate, a mobile compactor storage system and 24-hour climate controlled room has been designed for the collections (Fig. 1).

Figure 1. Mobile storage system is shown at right.


Yang Chang Man
Zoological Reference Collection
Department of Zoology
National Univ. of Singapore
Kent Ridge
Singapore 0511
Tel: 775-6666
Fax: 779-2486

Photographs: H. K. Yip
Illustration: Yang Chang Man

Publication: 1992



The materials used for constructing the mobile storage system were supplied and assembled by the supplier. Materials included 13-20 gauge steel, stainless steel railings and tracts, carbon steel wheels, and polychloroprene rubber seals. The distributor designed and constructed the system according to available space and the load capacity of the floor (Fig. 2).

Figure 2. Floor plan for the mobile storage system.

The electrically controlled carriages, measuring 14.6m move on eight rails. Rails with the housing tracks are mounted level with the floor surface to prevent users from tripping over them (Fig. 3).

Figure 3. left, Large cabinets accommodate storage for over-sized specimens. 
                right, Fluid preserved specimens are stored on shelving units within the mobile storage system.

This particular mobile storage system was divided into three sections to accommodate the structural columns of the building, thus three access aisles are available at any time.

Each carriage carries either single-faced or double-faced cabinets. Most cabinets measured 1.2W x 0.6D x 2.4H meters, but oversized objects are stored in larger cabinets (Fig. 3, left) with widths of 2.4m. All cabinets are airtight.

Fluid preserved specimens are stored in different-sized containers on an open shelf compactor system (Fig. 3, right).

The mobile storage system is equipped with special features that facilitate collection utilization. The opening of the aisles is synchronized with automatic lighting. The light goes off when the aisle is closed.

Materials Tools Supplies

  • Mobile storage system


Collection care is enhanced with the use of individual cabinets, and oversized objects can be given proper storage. Closed cabinets also provide extra protection for specimens against dust, fungi, pests, ultra-violet light, and environmental pollutants. Cabinet seals help reduce fluctuations of relative humidity.

Removable drawers allow vertical adjustment to accommodate different sizes of specimens and protection from mechanical damage caused by the upper level drawers (Fig. 4).

Figure 4. Drawers can be raised to prevent mechanical damage to specimens in lower drawers.

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