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Stacking Shipping Containers Safely: What You Need to Know

Jul 8, 2020
Stacking Shipping Containers Safely: What You Need to Know

Stacking shipping containers to create modified container buildings has become a trusted technique in modular building. These buildings become company office spaces, community centers, and everything in between. Although containers are commonly stacked on ships as cargo boxes, stacking shipping containers into modified buildings requires additional expertise. Here’s what you need to know about safely stacking containers.

Stacking Shipping Containers Safely:

1. Place and Stack the Containers Correctly


If you’re stacking the containers on the same day they arrive, the set up crew can use a crane to easily lift the containers from the truck and immediately begin stacking. The use of a crane helps the crew stack the shipping containers safely, quickly, and accurately.

The crew can attach the crane to the four corners at the top of the container, called corner castings. These corner castings were created specifically for crane use on ships, but they remain useful for stacking modified containers into larger buildings.

In some cases, an industrial forklift can unload containers from trucks and stack them. Keep in mind that this process often takes longer and requires a very experienced forklift operator who is familiar with containers.

2. Secure the Stacked Containers

As the crew places the containers on top of one another, they must carefully align the units. This often means crew members spread around the container structure and help guide the crane operator as the container descends.

Twist locks are mechanisms that secure the four corners of a shipping container to one another as they stack. Multi-unit structures are often secured to the pre-poured foundation with modified twist locks to add stability. Ultimately the top container needs to be placed on these twist locks to secure the top container to the bottom container. These locks ensure that the stacked containers remain secure, immovable, and safe.


3. Additional Protective Installation Elements

After the containers are stacked on twist locks and they are locked in place, several additional steps are needed to finish container set up. Many of these steps help further secure the stacked shipping containers and protect against weather damage.

Beyond caulking the seams where the containers combine, installing flashing where the upper and lower containers meet is necessary to protect against rainwater. Flashing is a sheet of metal shaped and designed to protect the seam from the elements. Some container structure owners may not choose to install flashing, but here at Falcon, we strongly recommend our customers consider the added protection it offers.


Similarly, we install a ridge cap on all our combined containers. This protects the top of two combined containers by lining the seam. A ridge cap will ensure that rainwater won’t leak through the seam in the roof as well as further securing the structure together.


And finally, an electrician will need to install electrical connections and a plumber will need to hook up plumbing once the structure is set in place. It’s important that professionals take care of these sometimes-dangerous steps.

Once you have everything in place, you can feel confident that your stacked shipping container structure will stand the test of time. If you have additional concerns or questions about ordering a multi-container structure feel free to give us a call at  877-704-0177 or email us at Sales@FalconStructures.com. We’ll happily give you more detailed information based on your specific structure.

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