Common shipping containers have a capacity equivalent to about 3500 shoe boxes. Larger units can be loaded with 8000 shoe boxes, or even more. Units that large can use more than 3500 kilograms of steel. While that steel saves a lot of other resources, such as wood, brick, mortar, and other building materials, depending on how the units are repurposed, that’s still a lot of steel. That’s why we emphasize and promote the use of shipping containers made with recycled steel, or encourage customers to buy used shipping containers that were manufactured with either recycled or new steel. But the used shipping containers you purchase for your project will require more careful and regular maintenance than new shipping containers. Read on for some tips on keeping your used shipping containers in the best condition possible for as long as possible.
Maintaining Shipping Containers
Shipping containers are steel-tough and designed and built to last forever even in the harshest conditions. But anything that works that hard and is so constantly exposed to the elements will necessarily degrade. There are some steps you can take to keep even your used shipping containers in the condition in which you received it.
Load, Unload, and Store Your Shipping Container on Level Surface
Unlevel storage or use of used shipping containers can cause pooling of water around the containers which promotes rust. It can also distribute weight and pressure to joints that are intended to share that weight long term with the container’s other joints. Of course, loads may not always be distributed evenly, but using your shipping containers on level surfaces helps the steel maintain weight in the way that it was intended.
Keep Moving Parts Clean and Lubricated
It may be hard to regard monolithic shipping containers as having anything like an Achilles Heel, but if they do, it’s their moving parts. Doors, handles, and post-manufacture modifications can function as weak points. With proper maintenance, however, there is little cause for concern. Keep handles, hinges, doors, and other modifications clean and well lubricated. In addition, monitor these parts for functionality and faults. It’s unlikely that any part of your used shipping containers will fail, but if there is a place for trouble to start, it’s in the doors and handles.
Maintain and Monitor Modifications
This restates and emphasizes what is directed above: be vigilant with maintaining, monitoring, cleaning, and, as necessary, lubricating post-manufacture modifications. It’s also important to use the highest quality materials available, materials that resist harmful corrosion. There are countless unique uses for storage containers, and nothing is off limits or places your containers at risk so long as the container and modifications are well maintained.
Don’t Disregard Corrosion or Minor Damage
Many used shipping containers are manufactured with corrosion-resistant steel. But even these can be subject to damage from rust and corrosion. As ships are the most frequent transit method for cargo stored in shipping containers, with 95% of the world’s cargo shipped by sea, it is likely that a used shipping container has been exposed to a great deal of salt, salt air, and water, making corrosion more likely. Small areas of corrosion caught early enough easily treated and cleaned away. Catching and repairing dings, dents, and scratches, even before they show signs of rust, is key to keeping your shipping container in the best condition possible for years and years to come.
Shipping containers are every bit as tough as they look. And we are learning more every day about how versatile they are. Used shipping containers are an environmentally friendly way of saving valuable resources. With some simple maintenance and proper vigilance, they can remain in great shape interminably no matter how they are used or repurposed.