How the shipping container grading system works

Not all shipping containers are created equal, and this is why a grading system was invented to easily distinguish between containers of varying quality. There are some variations in the exact grading used by each supplier, but there is a general standard that applies to all. In this article we’ll explain the shipping container grading system and detail exactly what the grade means. nnThe category or grade that a container receives is often correlated with its value and realistic asking price, so it’s important to be aware of these grades when you’re buying or selling your own shipping container. This way you’ll avoid being overcharged or underpaid for a container. nn n

IICL-5 (Premium)

nIICL-5 containers are those that meet the standards of the Institute of International Container Lessors. They are between two and 8 years old and in excellent condition. They may be in near-new condition or have been repaired to such a high standard that they’re indistinguishable. IICL-5 containers will fetch a higher price than a WWT container (see below) but will be cheaper than a brand new container due to their age. nn n


nA container with a WWT rating (which stands for Wind and Watertight) is one that is over 8 years old but meets the standard of being able to protect its contents from the elements. It contains no holes, cracks or major structural weaknesses. nnThe WWT category is sometimes divided into subcategories, each given a grade (usually from A to C). A-grade containers are those in very good condition, containing little to no damage or rust. B-grade containers are those in slightly worse condition with more noticeable damage or rust. B-grade containers will often contain slight structural weaknesses and are deemed unfit for shipping, but still make for excellent storage units. C-grade containers are similar to the “As-is” category, which we discuss below. nn n


nThe CSC plate is an informational panel attached to the side of a shipping container, detailing manufacturing information, load capacity, and more. A container that is CSC-plated (with a valid CSC plate) has been inspected and quality assured by a governing body in the shipping container industry. Having a valid CSC plate means the container is permitted for shipping, whereas a container that lacks a valid CSC plate cannot be shipped. Therefore, while not technically a category or grade, a CSC plated container is more valuable and versatile than a container without one. nn n


nSimilar to the above, a cargo-worthy container is one that has been inspected and quality assured to be fit for sea travel. It is sufficiently weatherproof and sturdy to be used by shipping companies and is therefore the standard that such companies use. The value of a cargo-worthy container can vary greatly based on their exact condition, age, and previous usage. nn n


nA refurbished container, as the name suggests, is one that has been repaired. The quality and extent of the repairs will dictate the asking price and usability of a refurbished container. Refurbishments can be anything from a fresh coat of paint to entirely new flooring or insulation. nn n

Storage grade

nA storage grade container is one that is no longer suitable for shipping, often due to significant wear and tear and structural concerns. However, they are still considered fit for storage purposes and will have the structural integrity and weather resistance needed to keep their contents safe. nn n


n“As-is” is a slightly strange category. It essentially means that the owner of the container bought it in its current condition and performed no repairs or maintenance checks. In theory, an as-is container can be in excellent condition, but most of the time they will need to be inspected and repaired before use for shipping. The big issue with as-is is that its exact condition is unknown and it may have structural damage that’s indiscernible to the untrained eye. As such, as-is containers tend to sell relatively cheaply. nn n


nOften the cheapest type of container, a Handyman container is one with extensive damage and one that requires a handyman’s attention to fix – hence its name. They’re very cheap to buy and are often bought by people who are skilled enough and willing to repair the container themselves before use. nn nnA point to take away is that a newer container isn’t necessarily a better container. The way a container has been used has more of an impact than its age. For example, consider a container that’s six years old but has been well-maintained, been used primarily for storage rather than shipping, and has been largely protected from harsh weather. Now consider a container that’s three years old but has been used a lot for shipping through harsh storms and had very little maintenance. The latter will likely be in much worse condition than the former, and will therefore fetch a lower asking price. nn nnFor more information on shipping containers or to buy your own, get in touch with us today. Here at Unit Hire, we offer a wide range of shipping containers that are fit for almost any purpose. 

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