What Affects the Structural Integrity of a Shipping Container?

What Affects the Structural Integrity of a Shipping Container?

Purchasing new containers or used containers is a great idea for so many reasons, whether you use them for mobile offices and classrooms, or to use as storage in your backyard. Steel shipping containers are very durable and are designed to last for years, decades even – if they’re cared for properly.

Many people choose to make modifications to their shipping containers. However, they may not realize that those modifications can compromise the structural integrity of the container, resulting in long-term repercussions. In order to safely store items and valuables inside the container, the structural integrity must remain intact, for one thing, and for another, it must be able to accommodate safe alterations that you may make in the future.

Annual routine maintenance, particular to the roof and doors, will help to extend the life of your container. But there are many things you have to take into consideration that can negatively impact the structural integrity of the shipping container.

What Affects Structural Integrity? 3 Factors to Consider

There are three main factors that affect a shipping container’s structural integrity. They are:

Improper Stacking of Containers: Whether you’re stacking containers for storage purposes or you’re looking to build multiple container complexes, stacking is a common practice. When done right, it isn’t harmful to the containers. But when the containers are incorrectly piled on top of one another, they can result in structural damage as well as a dangerous situation for people around them. As such, you should always stack units at the corners (not diagonally), tying them with twist locks to ensure a multi-level shipping container building that is structurally sound.

Too Many Modifications: Alterations are a common undertaking among shipping container owners. Perhaps you would like to transform the unit into a garage space or workshop or maybe you want to add security upgrades to your mobile office so it’s safer at night when you’re not there. Whatever the case, changes to the original container are sometimes necessary and should be allowed to happen. However, you have to follow certain guidelines and precautions to ensure it remains structurally sound even after the modifications. For instance, you can’t cut out too large a space to accommodate more doors or cut too close to the corners, as this will lead to an uneven distribution of weight and a precarious situation. Keep in mind that every shipping container is carried via the corner castings, which are basically the four corners of the container. Let’s say you cut out a corner casting to make a desired modification design change. If you did this without consulting with a structural engineer, you could be sacrificing the container’s structural integrity. Drastic cuts to a wall, for example, are another way to compromise structure. If you were to cut out an entire wall, this would cause the roof to sag, while the floor would become almost spring-like. The walls carry a lot of weight in addition to the corner castings, and they are necessary to maintain the container’s  shape.

Frequent Sea Travel: The deterioration process is hastened with frequent travel and exposure to the ocean air and water. All that salt can cause corrosion, and objects in the water can result in dents. If buying a used container that has been in the ocean, make sure you fully inspect the unit, checking for signs of rust, wear and tear, and other damage. Keep in mind, if you buy a used container, this means it likely traveled at sea many times. You may want to take a look at “one-trip” containers, which have only traveled once across the sea. A used container that has been exposed to the ocean is more affordable and may be perfectly suited to your needs of storage. But if you need a structurally sound container to enhance into a classy mobile office, art space or yoga studio, you’ll want to go with one trip or new containers, especially when people’s safety is at stake.

Contact Transocean Equipment Management

Whether you’re on the hunt for new containers or used ones, we can hook you up. Please contact us at 910-483-7828 for a free quote. For your convenience, we have offices in South Carolina and North Carolina, with representatives who can help with your request at any time.


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