Tips for buying

You are buying or renting a piece of equipment from a stack of identical units, but as you look closer you see how different containers can be. These ideas are intended to help you spot the very rusty containers well before you have become the owner of one of them ....

  1. Buy the best you can afford. This will save repair costs, and if you are using it for shipping it will be more certain to pass the tests required by insurers for structural strength. Also, a newer container will have more resale value when you come to sell it.
  2. If you are buying a container always inspect it first, and if you are inspecting make sure the depot manager knows in advance that is what you are planning to do – this can save a long wait while a machine and driver are found for lifting your container down off a stack (or worse “digging it out” if your particular container is at the bottom of a stack).
  3. For security purposes, make sure you have a record of the identification number and ideally a photo of the container.
  4. When loading a container think carefully about which things will need to be near the doors (i.e. need to go in last) and remember to use the internal metal brackets for tying things in.
  5. When transporting a container, make clear to the haulage company whether the container is full or empty and check that their lorry will be able to get close enough to pick it up. For a loaded container, the lorry will have to pull up beside the unit rather than “end-on.” A standard HIAB (a lorry with a crane) may not lift a container so check carefully before booking transport.
  6. Before hiring a container, think what sort you need - there are pros and cons. Two 20ft units give more flexibility than a 40ft and for shipping machinery you may want to consider an open-top container where the equipment can be lifted in by crane.
  7. If your goods are sensitive, you should make sure that there is no smell in the container – it’s amazing how the smell of previously transported or stored items lingers.
  8. Always know the age of your container: this gives a first indication or its state of repair. You can find the date and place of manufacture on a small metal plate on the front of every container. It pays to read this carefully as first impressions can be very misleading – a coat of paint can make a rusty old container look quite respectable to the untutored eye.

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