Shipping Container Basics

Many of the customers that purchase a cargo container from Containers Hawaii to modify don’t have any idea of its provenience. Almost all of the containers we use were shipped back and forth internationally, or to and from Hawaii to the mainland.

CSC Plate on Shipping ContainerOnce the cargo container is manufactured it is given an approval plate called a CSC plate or Container Safety Convention plate. It is then sold or leased to a shipping line where they are assigned a unique 7 digit number that supplies the basic description of the container and tracks it en route its destination.

The shipping ID numbers on the container will enable the shipping terminals to read who is the owner or shipping line, the cargo that’s in the container, whether it’s an import or export, full or empty, and its destination. The destination could be anything from a rail line, to a port for loading on an freight ocean vessel.

Cargo Container BoatOn ocean voyages these containers are stacked together and locked into place by the containers’ locking combs, and further secured with lashing bars. Containers can be loaded into the vessel either above or below deck with thousands of other containers. Despite securely stowing the cargo anywhere from 200 to 10,000 containers fall overboard every year.

Once the containers arrive at the port they are then are then offloaded to a shipping yard where they are typically stacked 5 containers  high. The cargo units have a lifespan of about 10 to 20 years although over 50% of that time will be spent with the container sitting empty in a warehouse, “repositioning.” These wait times for the containers are often due to international trade disputes which means the containers are losing revenue while, in a way, paying rent to be warehoused.

Shipping Container Loading DocIf a destination has been selected for the shipping container it is loaded from the shipping yard onto an empty chaise of an semi truck. The trucks are weighed into and out of the shipping yard to insure that it is carrying a safe load. These trucks could carry everything from scrap metal to television waiting to be delivered at your local Target store.