How to Load a Shipping Container

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Francisca Olive / May 2023

It would be impossible to imagine international trade and logistics without shipping containers, which are critical in transporting goods from point A to point B. However, loading a container can be challenging, especially for those unfamiliar with the process. Knowing how to load a shipping container properly is essential for the safe and secure transport of any goods. This article will guide you through the crucial steps of loading a shipping container.

Preparing The Cargo For Loading

container on hot shot trailer

If you are moving the contents of your house or business in addition to your automobile, motorbike, or boat, you need to package everything correctly before the shipping container movers you hired arrive to load and carry your goods. Everyone involved will have an easier time if you follow these tips.

Brand-new boxes are better for packing. You can use standard cardboard cartons to store books, DVDs, or other basic home objects and linen boxes to store linens and other kitchen equipment. You should get real dish bags to store your expensive china in safely.

Protect your fine china and picture frames by wrapping them in bubble wrap or using a few towels as padding. A wardrobe container, which takes up around ten cubic feet, is an option if you want to protect your clothes.

Recheck everything to ensure it’s safe, and seal everything with sturdy adhesive tape. Mark the contents clearly and the box number on each one, such as “linens,” “box 4 of 17,” etc. Make sure to keep track of your goods.

Stretch-wrap your furniture to prevent it from gathering dust and being scratched up in transit. If you’re moving a dining room table or other large, delicate item, protect it with furniture pads and place one down inside the shipping container. Gather all your belongings (furniture, boxes, etc.) into one room and arrange them according to the order in which you intend to load the container.

container loading on trailer for transport

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Properly Loading a Shipping Container

On the day of shipping container transport, the shipping company will send over trained movers to load your possessions, or you can pack them yourself with the help of some friends, and then the shipping company will transport them to their final location. Several shipping container movers offer two hours of free loading before charging per hour. Loading a 20-foot container can take as little as three hours with support and preparation, while a 40-foot container can take up to six hours.

Whether you’re packing or hiring pros, keep the following in mind.

➤ When the container finally comes, make sure to inspect it. Be sure it’s spotless and in good shape. Inspect the locks and jot down the serial number for future reference.

➤ Weight distribution in a shipping container is crucial, so be sure your furniture, boxes, and other cargo are evenly loaded. A standard 20-foot container has a volume of around 1,170 cubic feet and can carry up to 62,000 pounds; a 40-foot container has a volume of about 2,400 cubic feet and can carry roughly the same weight but in a different distribution.

➤ Don’t forget the distribution rule as you load the heaviest objects first. For instance, if the washing machine is packed in one corner of the shipping container, you should put a couch in the other to balance the container.

➤ Place the remaining furniture pieces along the walls and corners, with the front facing outward. Make sure to use plenty of furniture wrap to protect any expensive wood furniture, such as dressers or coffee tables. To ensure that your dining room set isn’t damaged in transit, you can secure its legs to the container’s floor or walls using nylon rope.

➤ Don’t forget the bed frames and mattresses! They can be laid on their sides to provide more room, in the center of the load, or along the walls for better weight and space distribution.

➤ Place heavier things like books or pots and pans in the bottom of a row of boxes, then stack boxes with more delicate objects like glasses on top. Keep any liquids, including water, on the bottom, and make sure they’re securely fastened.

➤ Whether transporting a vehicle, motorbike, or watercraft, follow the rules by emptying the gasoline and disabling the alarm system. Following that, erect a makeshift wall in the cargo container using plywood. Construct a barrier between the area where you will keep your vehicle and the cargo you will be transporting.

As the law requires, the car should be positioned such that the license plate is visible from the entrance.

Key Takeaway

Loading a shipping container may seem daunting, but planning and preparation can make it much more manageable. Remember to maximize your container space, distribute the weight evenly, secure your cargo properly, and label your boxes clearly.

William Thomas

William Thomas

Heavy Transport Specialist

Being able to lead a team of such talented logistics agents has been a wonderful experience over the past ten years. If you would like to know anything more about the heavy equipment transport services we offer, don't hesitate to give us a call!