Guide to Shipping Containers
Shipping containers have revolutionized the way goods are transported across the world. These large metal boxes, which come in standard sizes, have made it easier and more cost-effective to move goods by sea, land, and air. In this article, we will take a closer look at shipping containers, their history, uses, and the impact they have had on global trade.
History of Shipping Containers
The history of shipping containers dates back to the early 20th century when the need for more efficient ways to transport goods across long distances was increasing. In 1955, the first standardized shipping container was introduced by an American trucking entrepreneur named Malcolm McLean. McLean was looking for ways to reduce the time and cost of loading and unloading cargo from ships, and he realized that using containers that could be loaded directly onto ships could be the answer.
McLean’s idea was initially met with skepticism, but he persevered and established a company called Sea-Land Service to develop and promote the use of standardized containers. By the 1960s, containerization had become a widely accepted practice in the shipping industry, and it has since become the most common method of moving goods around the world.
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Uses of Shipping Containers
Shipping containers have a wide range of uses beyond just transporting goods. One of the most popular uses is for housing. The sturdy metal construction and modular design of shipping containers make them ideal for creating affordable and sustainable homes. Architects and builders have been using shipping containers to create everything from single-family homes to multi-unit apartment buildings and even office spaces.
Another popular use for shipping containers is for storage. Shipping containers are weather-resistant and secure, making them a great option for storing items such as tools, equipment, and vehicles. They are also commonly used for temporary storage during construction projects or as a portable storage unit for businesses.
Shipping containers are also used for pop-up shops and restaurants. The modular design of shipping containers allows them to be easily transported and set up in various locations. This makes them a popular option for businesses that want to create a unique and mobile storefront.
Impact of Shipping Containers on Global Trade
The use of shipping containers has had a significant impact on global trade. Prior to the introduction of containerization, goods were transported in a variety of ways, including loose in the hold of a ship, in sacks or boxes, or on pallets. This made loading and unloading slow and labor-intensive, and it often resulted in damage to the cargo.
With the introduction of standardized shipping containers, loading and unloading became much faster and more efficient. The containers could be easily moved from ship to truck to train without the need for unpacking and repacking. This reduced the time and cost of transporting goods, making it possible to move larger volumes of cargo at a lower cost.
Shipping Containers are the cargo containers that allow goods to be stored for transport in trucks, trains and boats, making intermodal transport possible. They are typically used to transport heavy materials or palletized goods. Shipping Containers are used to protect transported cargo from shock and bad weather conditions, as well as keep storage products intact. They were first used in the 1950s and were initially developed for the purpose of commercial shipping.
Shipping containers are also referred to as, ISO container, conex box, railroad container, intermodal container and certain truck trailers. This industry term refers to the International Standards Organization (ISO), the largest developer of international standards and the organization that developed the standard dimension specifications for steel shipping containers used worldwide.
The design of the ISO standard containers allows for intermodal shipping, which is the movement of containers from one mode of transport to another, like ship, rail, or truck, without the need of having to load and unload, and reload its contents.
Shipping Containers are used to protect transported cargo from shock and bad weather conditions, as well as keep storage products intact. They were first used in the 1950s and were initially developed for the purpose of commercial shipping container transport.
Depending on the type of product that is going to be sent, the Shipping Container can vary in dimension, structure, material, etc. Characteristics of these shipping containers were later standardized, something that expedited transport without the need to load and unload the merchandise along the way.
There are different types of Shipping Containers for different types of transportation:
Common Types of Shipping Containers
Shipping Containers are another name for the conex boxes most used on the market. Shipping Containers are typically suitable for any type of dry cargo: pallets, boxes, bags, machines, furniture, etc.
Shipping containers come in different types and sizes, each designed for specific purposes. The most common types are:
Dry Containers: These are standard containers that are used to transport dry goods such as electronics, clothing, and furniture.
Reefer Containers: These are insulated containers that are used to transport perishable goods such as fruits, vegetables, and pharmaceuticals. They have built-in refrigeration units that keep the cargo at a specific temperature.
Flat Rack Containers: These containers are used to transport oversized cargo such as machinery, vehicles, and construction materials. They have collapsible sides that make loading and unloading easier.
Open Top Containers: These containers are designed to transport goods that are too tall to fit in a standard container. They have a removable roof that allows for top loading.
Tank Containers: These are used to transport liquids and gases such as chemicals, fuels, and food products. They are built with a cylindrical shape and are often used for hazardous materials.
Dry Storage Shipping Containers are your typical standard shipping containers. Basic construction is made of steel, and hermetically sealed, without cooling or ventilation. Sizes typically come in 20 ‘, 40’ or 40 ‘High Cube. The High Cube category facilitates an increase of 13% of the internal cubic capacity and can handle the heaviest loads (coal, tobacco, etc.)
Refrigerated Shipping Container
Reefer Shipping Containers provide a temperature controlled environment. They have a power supply that connects to energy sources during transport. This allows the products to be transported at a constant temperature throughout the journey. They have the possibility to lower temperature from -18 ° to 30 °. There are 20 and 40 foot models, in addition to the High Cube.
This type of Shipping Container is especially recommended for transporting food or products that need a low storage temperature.
Open Top Shipping Container
Open Top Shipping Container have the same measurements as the standard containers, but are open at the top because they have a removable canvas roof. These containers facilitate the transport of bulky loads.
Flat Rack Shipping Container
Flat Rack Shipping Containers are like the Open Top, but also lack side walls and even, in some cases, front and rear walls. They are used for atypical loads and pay supplements in the same way as Open Top.
Open Side Shipping Container
Open Side Shipping Containers have the same measurements as standard containers; 20 or 40 feet, with the difference that they have a side opening. This allows for transporting very long merchandise, whose dimensions prevent it from being loaded by the back door.
Tank Shipping Container
Tank Shipping Containers are used for the liquid transport and made to carry dangerous as toxic, corrosive, highly combustible chemicals, as well as oil, milk, beers, wine, mineral water, etc. They have the same dimensions as a Dry Shipping Containers, but their structure is different, as they include a polyethylene tank inside.
Ventilated Shipping Containers
Ventilated Shipping Containers are made for transporting products such as coffee or cocoa beans, which must be ventilated in transit; sometimes these units are called “coffee containers”.
Shipping Container Door Diagram and Troubleshooting
Now we are going to run through the essential parts of a shipping container.
- For a door to work, you need hinges. Pins hold the shipping container’s hinges together through a barrel. In certain cases when doors are difficult to open, hinge pins and blades may be seized due to corrosion. Each door is fitted with 2 to 4 vertical lock rods to enable opening, closing and locking of the doors.
- The door handle rotates the lockbar to initiate the door opening process by forcing the cams out of their keepers. Each door handle has a door locking handle retainer that slides over the door handle when in locked position.
- At the end of each lock rod is a cam welded in place which engages with knuckles, also known as cam keepers. The action of engaging the cams to the keepers forms an anti-racking function. In certain cases, often unfortunately too many, contents of the shipping container may have shifted causing shipping container doors and lockrods to warp.
- When opening a shipping container, start with the right hand door first. Swivel the handles, engage the cams and keepers, and twist both door handles. Closing the doors is just a reverse of this process.
- The lock box is a steel box welded to the right hand door which overlaps a staple welded to the left hand door. A padlock, normally CISA type 285 66 can then be attached inside the lock box through the staple and is then protected from direct attack, hindering attempts to gain entry to the container.
- ISO markings and a consolidated data plate allow worldwide intermodal transport and are updated as necessary. Take note that customs authorities in some countries may also have their own container seal regulations as part of their national security.
- Rubber gaskets are fitted to the container doors during the manufacturing process and prevent water ingress. Door gaskets are designed to present two or more fins against the structure or adjacent door. These are generally flexible but when the gasket is damaged, they may become stiff thus jamming the door closed, or preventing it from being closed.
Two door leaves are fabricated from two vertical rolled hollow sections and 2 horizontal c section members. The frame is infilled with corrugated steel paneling.
These are normally attached to the rear corner posts each with four drop forged steel hinge blades. The blades allow 270 degree opening which allow the doors to swing back against the container side wall.
(Cargo may shift during transit. Look at the container to make sure that the doors are aligned and level, both top and bottom. In cases where the container frame is racked and the door gear will not operate correctly.)
The lock box is a steel box welded to the right hand door which overlaps a staple welded to the left hand door. A padlock, normally type CISA type 285 66 can then be attached inside the lock box through the staple and is then protected from direct attack, hindering attempts to gain entry to the container.
- Lockrods, cam keepers, handles
Each door is fitted with 2-4 vertical lock rods to enable opening, closing and locking of the doors.
At the end of each lock rod (top and bottom) is a cam welded in place which engages with knuckles, also known as cam keepers.
The action of engaging the cams to the keepers forms an anti-racking function.
(In certain cases, often unfortunately too many, contents of the shipping container may have shifted, or containers even dropped, causing shipping container doors and lockrods to warp)
The door handle rotates the lockbar to initiates the door opening process by forcing the cams out of their keepers. Each door handle has a door locking handle retainer that slides over the door handle when in locked position.
- Rubber gaskets
Rubber gaskets are fitted to the container doors during the manufacturing process and prevent water ingress.
(Door gaskets are designed to present two or more fins against the structure or adjacent door. These are generally flexible but when the gasket is damaged, they may become hard or blocked thus jamming the door closed, or preventing it being closed.)
- ISO markings and CSC plate
ISO markings and a consolidated data plate allow worldwide intermodal transport when left in place and updated as necessary.
- Hinge pins
Of course for a door to work, you need hinges.
(In certain cases when doors are difficult to open, hinge pins and blade are seized due to corrosion.)
Choosing the Right Company for Buying a Shipping Container
When doing research in finding the right Shipping Container, follow some of these tips:
Choose which companies have a good track record of excellence and reputation. Read reviews and what other customers have to say.
Check for Availability
If you are shipping from various locations, check for availability if containers can be delivered to your required areas.
Check for Best Pricing
If money matters, you can find used container resellers online that might be able to offer half the price on used containers.
Check for Good Customer Service
If you plan to order often, you might want to check for good customer service. Ask potential container companies a question through email or their online customer service. See how fast they respond.
Check for Warranty
Check with companies to see if they offer any warranties or buy back or trade in plans.
There are millions of Shipping Containers in use around the world, and a lucky few get a second life as repurposed shipping container structures. While they look a bit plain and boxy to the untrained eye, shipping containers play a critical role in our lives, whether embarking on ocean crossings to deliver the goods we use every day or venturing into a second life as a container structure.
Here are Some Fascinating Facts about Shipping Containers
- Shipping Containers can be safely stacked nine-high.
- Well-maintained Shipping Containers hold 759, of their original value for 25+ years.
- There are over 37 million Shipping Containers in use around the world.
- A Shipping Container floor can hold up 55,000 lb. of goods without warping.
- Shipping Container flooring is made of 1-1/8” marine grade plywood.
- Most Shipping Containers are 20 feet or 40-feet long.
- Shipping Containers are made of 16-gauge corten steel.
- Common container modifications include: personnel doors, windows flooring, shelving, work stations, insulation, climate control & even restrooms.
Fun Ways to Use Shipping Containers
Shipping Containers are not just used for cargo these days. There are many innovative and imaginative uses you may like to consider.
Here are few ideas of how shipping containers have been used for modern, cost effective buildings.
The trend to build cost-effective homes from recycled shipping containers started in USA and has reached Australia.
Architect, Tomokaza Hayakawa designed an art gallery in Japan using two shipping containers stacked on each other.
Starbucks in Washington have used four old shipping containers to create an architect designed drive-thru store.
A cafe in Footscray (Melbourne) called Rudimentary has been built using three 40-foot shipping containers.
India has built a Polar Station in Antarctica using 134 shipping containers. They cover three floors and are well insulated for the weather conditions.
A well-maintained Shipping Container can hold 75% of their original value for 25+ years. Every day, container ships transport goods all over the world on the international seas.
Shipping Container Opening and Closing Tool
Shipping containers often take a beating, traveling around the world, being exposed to freezing conditions and rust due to seawater or when the frost has melted.
During the cold season, and in freezing parts of the world, our shipping container tool can benefit the opening and closing of frozen shipping container doors and hard to open or rusted containers.
Injuries often occur as a result of personnel trying to open and close difficult container doors, and often are the result of inappropriate techniques being used to open them.
To aid in opening and closing shipping container doors, we introduce OPNBar.
A Shipping Container (also known as Intermodal Container, ISO Container,Railroad Container, and certain Truck Trailers) is a large standardized shipping container, designed and built for intermodal freight transport. Shipping Containers can be used across different modes of transport. They can go from ship to rail to truck, without unloading and reloading their cargo.
The metal doors on the shipping containers on these containers are standardized. Shipping Containers use the same type and style of doors and locking bars, which our tool can be used.
Lengths are as follows: 20′, 40′, 45′, 48′, 50′, 53′. All these containers are globally used to transport cargo. The 53′ length is now, the new the standard length.
Here are some likely reasons a Shipping Container door will not open or close. Visit https://www.shippingcontainertool.com/what-is-a-shipping-container/ to find out how to overcome some of these issues.
Doors and lockrods may warp or container frame is racked so that the door gear will not operate correctly. This may be caused by cargo shifting during transit. Look at the container to make sure that the doors are aligned and level, both top and bottom.
The hinge pins and blade are seized due to corrosion.
The door gasket has been damaged and is preventing opening. Door gaskets are designed to present two or more fins against the structure or adjacent door. These are generally flexible but when the gasket is damaged, they may become hard or blocked thus jamming the door closed, or preventing it being closed.
Water has become trapped between frozen shipping container doors, particularly relevant to refrigerated cargoes, or containers with moisture releasing cargoes in cold weather.
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