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How Containers Are Moved

Tuesday, 30th March 2010
The ISO design of shipping containers was intended to make them a truly intermodal unit capable of being transported by multiple means. They may look bulky and awkward to move around but with the right equipment this is not the case. Containers are usually stored in depots around the world until they are needed for a job. Here they are inspected, cleaned and repaired ready for the next job. Any conversions or modifications that are required prior to their loading are also generally carried out there. When needed for a booking the owner will send release details through to the depot who will then ensure the correct equipment is prepared to be loaded onto the collection vehicle. Collection vehicles will usually consist of a flatbed or skeletal trailer with twistlocks fitted that manually lock into the corner castings. These vehicles can take a single 40ft or a pair of 20ft containers with a standard trailer. Smaller 20ft trailers may only be able to take a single box or pair of 10ft containers. The vehicle will usually be loaded with a dedicated handler, reachstacker or forklift. Some terminals may operate straddle carriers that can pick more than one container locked together at once. When talking about containers for sale and delivery to premises where there are no lifting facilities, such as self storage companies in London, then self unloading crane mounted trailers will collect and deliver them. These are usually known in the trade as “hiabs” after one of the crane manufacturers.


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