How to Move a Shipping Container

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Francisca Olive / June 2023

Because of their longevity, adaptability, and low cost, shipping containers are becoming an increasingly attractive option for housing, transit, and storage purposes. Moving a shipping container can be challenging, especially if you do not have the appropriate equipment or skills. Several steps are involved in the moving process, from choosing the right equipment to preparing the container for transport. This article will provide a comprehensive guide on how to move a shipping container covering everything you need to know.

Moving a Shipping Container

Think about where you want to put your shipping container before you try to move it. Naturally, it needs to be in a location that is easily accessible for its use, whether that be in a public garden, on a construction site, or even in a nature preserve. You should also try to locate a spot that receives little to no direct sunlight and is shielded from the wind and rain as much as possible. Even though they were made to withstand the rough conditions at sea, the more protected they are, the longer they will last.

The land you plan to use must also be adequately prepared. If you’ve ever tried to use a chair and table on uneven ground, you’ll know why it’s essential that the area be leveled off first before the container is delivered. Also, ensure the land has a sturdy foundation by laying down cement, paving stones, or railway sleepers.

Methods of Moving Shipping Containers

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Trucks are the most popular method for transporting containers from one location to another. If you choose this option, think about the container’s size and how easy it will be to get it where it has to go. The secret is finding reliable shipping container movers who can advise you on the best mode of transport to ensure swift, secure, and timely delivery.

Tilt Bed Trailers

Tilt bed trailer transport is one of the most efficient and secure ways to move a shipping container, particularly when traveling less than 200 miles. Ensure the trailer has enough room to back up and the unloading area is clear so the container can side off during the unloading process. Furthermore, the soil must be dry, hard, and level. Tilt bed trailers have the advantage of allowing the driver to unload the container without the need for equipment like cranes or forklifts. Remember that your shipping container will be tipped at some point, and the contents may shift, so consider securing any items in the container before driving off.

Flatbed Trailers

A flatbed trailer is your best bet if you need to transport your shipping container more than 200 miles. This is because the operating costs of a tilt bed trailer are higher than those of a flatbed trailer, especially when comparing the two on a per-mile basis. Thus, a flatbed trailer is the most economical choice for long-distance shipping of your containers. That being said, a flatbed trailer has no side walls. Therefore, a crane or forklift will be required to offload the shipping container from the trailer bed.

container haul

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Choosing Between a Crane or Forklift

Moving a Shipping Container Using a Forklift

Although your average forklift wouldn’t be able to handle the weight of a shipping container, there are special ones that can. Most compact forklifts aren’t wide enough to raise a shipping container without risking buckling or damaging the container, and they lack the lifting capacity to lift the container without assistance.

Because using a forklift involves putting all the weight or pressure of the shipping container on its center, it is quite easy to create an accident if you choose the wrong forklift. If you must use a forklift, ensure it can carry at least 15,000 pounds. This guarantees that the forklift’s arms are sufficiently large and sturdy to lift your container without causing any harm.

Cranes Are Better, but You’ll Need a License to Operate One

Although it is typically easier to load a shipping container onto the trailer or flatbed of a truck with the assistance of a crane, renting one can help you save time. Even if you transport the shipping container yourself, you will likely need to pay someone else to execute the crane lifting because cranes require special licenses or operators.

Think carefully about both options before making a decision.

Key Takeaway

Transporting a shipping container can seem daunting, but with proper planning and equipment, it can be done securely and swiftly. If you follow the guidelines provided above and consult an expert when necessary, you should be able to get your shipping container where it needs to go without incident.

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!