How to move a storage container

Shipping containers are the backbone of the modern economy. The scale that they are moved on in mind-bogglingly huge, and we’ve already covered how the process of packing a shipping container here. Approximately 90% of all goods transport is done using container ships, but transporting them is no mean feat. It requires expert logistics, careful planning, and lots of experience to be able to transport everything in a timely and efficient manner. The advent of the standardised storage container led to a reduction in loss from storms and light-fingered loaders, as well as meaning that it required far fewer people to load and unload a ship. Shipping became much quicker and cheaper, and goods were able to move around the world with relative ease. nn n

On a big boat

nYou might have seen pictures of container ships, and it can be difficult to judge the scale of them. With names like Postpanamax or Malaccamax, they might sound more like a Star Trek spaceship than a boat: these ships are not messing around. Remember that a 16-wheeler lorry can accommodate one container, and the largest container ship can fit up to 20,000 of the containers it should give you some sense of scale. These container ships have increased in size since their invention, now reaching a whopping 366m in length! They are loaded up in the port by cranes that attach to each shipping container. These are then locked securely to each other, as many as 10 high. They then set sail, all around the globe.nnWe are now also seeing a more environmentally minded approach to how we ship these containers. The Dutch manufacturer announced that they had developed a fully electric and emission-free container barge which aims to reduce the amount of harmful carbon emissions being released into the atmosphere. Find out more here.nn Once they reach their destination they are unloaded, often directly onto trucks or onto freight trains. Then it’s onto their final destination to be unloaded. Shipping containers are an amazing innovation that has truly transformed how international trade works, and they are often more expensive to transport back from their destination to another shipping port, meaning that they can be put to a wide variety of uses. nn n

Moving a Storage Container Onsite

nOnsite transport usually requires a forklift, flatbed truck, or a tractor as a storage container weighs approximately 2.5t when it is empty. Moving a storage container is a tricky business and will require some expertise or specialist help. While almost all 20ft containers will have fork pockets many 40ft ones often do not due to different methods of production. The most efficient way to move an ISO container is to use a  specialist trucks called an ‘HIAB’ which have onboard cranes and hydraulic legs to stabilise them. These require trained experts with lots of practice in moving containers and handling large and heavy vehicles. The truck alone weighs in at a hefty 22t. nnWhen it comes to accommodating a HIAB your delivery site will have to fulfil certain criteria. It must, for example, be suitable for hard access given the combined weight of a truck and the container. You must also be mindful of any underground cables, pipes, or manholes or you risk damaging them as you move these monster vehicles around. nnThe key things to think about are this:n


  • Can you easily accommodate a large and heavy vehicle?
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  • Will you have to block off a public road to do this?
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  • Are there any overhead or underground cables that could be damaged? You may have to consult with the council or your site manager to find out.  
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n nnOther than that making sure that you have an experienced and careful mover who is able to work safely and efficiently is the most important thing. That’s why UnitHire’s staff are specially trained and certificated in moving and handling a wide variety of shipping container boxes, and our HIAB’s are regularly serviced and maintained. Contact us now for advice!nnAlternatively, find out more about the rules for sending a shipping container or what happens to a lost shipping container

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