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How To Move a Shipping Container

3 minute read
Aug 18, 2021
How To Move a Shipping Container

Let’s say you ordered a shipping container, the modifications are complete, and it’s ready for transportation. How exactly do you move a shipping container?

Well, you have options. There are several ways to move a shipping container; choosing the right method will depend on your circumstances. In this blog post, we walk through the options to help you determine the right solution for your company.

Shipping Container Transport by Truck

It’s common to ship containers by truck, but the type of truck depends on the size of the container and the accessibility of its destination.

A Tilt Bed Truck

Reasons to move a shipping container on a tilt bed truck

If you’re moving a container less than 200 miles, we recommend using a tilt bed truck. The bed of this truck can be tipped at an angle to let the cargo slide off with ease. This means that the driver will arrive on-site and set the container on the ground with no additional equipment.

(Note: Tilt bed trucks require ample room to access the area where you plan to place the container. Additionally, the ground needs to be dry, firm, flat, and level.)

A Flatbed Truck

Reasons to move a shipping container on a flatbed truck

If you’re moving your container beyond 200 miles, it is usually more cost-effective to use a flatbed truck, because tilt beds – being less common – cost more to operate per mile. A flatbed truck has a simple fixed platform with no surrounding walls, meaning that you will need a crane or forklift to move the modified container on and off the truck bed.

A Step-Deck Truck

Reasons to move a shipping container on a step-deck truck

Because high-cube containers are 9.5-feet tall – a foot taller than a standard shipping container – transporting them requires a step-deck truck. Step-deck trucks, like flatbeds, have a fixed, flat platform but a step-deck platform is lower to the ground to accommodate taller loads. Also like a flatbed, a step-deck truck requires a crane or forklift to move the container on and off the truck bed.

Getting Your Container off a Flatbed or Step-Deck Truck

when to lift a shipping container by crane or forklift

Upon arrival, your container will need to be removed from the truck correctly, otherwise, you risk damaging your new container. The correct method will depend on the size of your container.

  • Shipping containers that are 20-feet long or shorter should be lifted with a forklift that has 6-foot tines and is able to hold the weight of the container. Keep in mind that standard warehouse forklifts should never lift a shipping container. 
  • If the container is larger than 20-feet, you will need a specialty forklift with 8-foot tines that can lift at least 15,000 pounds. This is necessary because a 6-foot tine forklift could break through the flooring due to the additional weight.

Renting a crane is often the most cost-effective option for customers with larger containers. Thanks to their built-in corner castings, shipping containers are easily rigged for crane transport.

Crane or Forklift? Correctly Transport and Set Up Container Structures

Shipping Container Transport by Train

Traveling by rail is a feasible option if a container’s point of origin and destination are near rail lines. However, you must be prepared to consider additional logistics.

shipping containers on multiple trains with mountain in the back

It is likely that you have seen trains transporting shipping containers, but it’s important to note that these containers are unaltered and are carrying goods. Because a modified container will not be carrying the rail line’s freight, it will be treated as a very large piece of cargo. This may make rail lines hesitant to offer space on the train.

Keep in mind that you will need to arrange container transportation to and from the railyard, which will factor into the cost. Additionally, railyard certifications may be required.

The added time and costs associated with shipping by rail can quickly stack up, because of this, Falcon hasn’t encountered a situation where it would be a better solution for the customer, but the option is still worth considering.

Shipping Container Transport by Boat

shipping containers being transported by a cargo ship

Shipping containers were originally intended to be transported overseas and we have delivered several modified containers by boat in the past. However, certain modifications may make containers less watertight. There will also be additional costs and many logistical considerations to move the container in and out of port. Determining if a modified container can or should go overseas is a case-by-case assessment and should be discussed with your container provider.

Cost to Move a Shipping Container

Shipping prices fluctuate a lot between the time of order and the completion date. The cost to move a shipping container is determined by several factors: travel distance, location, time of year, access to drivers, gas prices, and more, making it nearly impossible to commit to a set price far in advance. Keep this in mind when coordinating with your container manufacturer. Here at Falcon, we offer third-party logistics services, which allows us to benefit from open market pricing. Our customers are also able to select and arrange their own logistics if preferred.

"What role does Falcon Structures play in shipping my container?"

At Falcon, we gladly coordinate delivery from our facility to your site. If you require a crane or forklift, we will help you make those arrangements. We’ve moved thousands of containers over these 18 years and we’re happy to share our expertise whenever we can.

If you have questions about whether a modified shipping container is right for your business, contact us at 877-704-0177 or email us at Sales@FalconStructures.com. A Falcon sales rep will be happy to help. 

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