The Purpose of Forklift Pockets

The Purpose of Forklift Pockets

Forklift pockets are basically the openings at the bases of shipping containers, designed to accommodate the insertion of forklift prongs. Their purpose is to secure, lift and balance shipping containers safely. It’s common to see forklifts picking and moving containers within a shipping container yard or port.

The pockets are included as standard fittings in 20-feet containers, positioned parallel to the container’s center within the bottom side rails. If a container did not have pockets, only the top side could be lifted via crane. You don’t see too many forklift pockets in 40-foot containers, as it can be dangerous to lift and balance such a heavy load.

The equipment tasked with handling a container must have a sufficient rating to handle the weight. This obviously means that if the container has cargo inside, this added weight is taken into consideration. Thus, you shouldn’t be using standard warehouse forklifts to lift shipping containers. Those are meant mostly for transporting pallets and heavy items within a warehouse or factory setting, best for indoor activities on stable, even surfaces over short distances only.

Types of Pockets

Let’s take a look at the different types of forklift pockets that can lift shipping containers.

1.     Grappler Pockets

Some containers have grappler pockets that can lift the units up with grapplers, generally used as an alternative to top spreaders that use corner castings to lift units.

2.     Gooseneck Tunnels

40-feet containers have inlets or recesses on their front-end floors. Called gooseneck container trailers, those goosenecks match up with the tunnels on the container’s bottom. The tunnels then  balance the units on the gooseneck chassis.

Common Issues

Sometimes, dangers can arise with the use of forklift pockets. One common issue involves the accidental entry of certain objects inside the unit that may prove to be hazardous later. Tools such as spanners or screwdrivers that have been left behind in a forklift by mistake by employees can cause damage.

Additionally, objects that may have gotten blown inside the container by wind can become lodged inside the unit. Both scenarios present challenges when the prongs from forklifts are inserted into the pockets, making the containers become off-balance. To avoid problems, covers can be installed over pockets when not in use.

Forklifts are great machines to have in a container yard because they offer so many benefits and solutions to tight logistical challenges. They can position containers on and off large trucks, they’re affordable, and they serve many helpful purposes. However, you should take any and all safety precautions when using a forklift to lift containers by their pockets.

Always adhere to the forklift’s upper weight carrying capacity before lifting a container. And remember not to use standard warehouse forklifts to lift shipping containers.

Contact Transocean Equipment Management


We hope you found this blog on forklift pockets interesting. If you need more information on buying or renting a shipping container of your own, call us today at (910) 483-7828.



Leave a Reply