How Long Can Shipping Containers Last?
Shipping containers are glorified storage units designed to stow cargo arriving by sea, often between ports. Today, however, these steel boxes, built to withstand all sorts of abuse over various terrain for decades, are finding new life alongside other industrial or architectural uses.
You can use them to build a house, transport goods, and serve as temporary housing during post-disaster recovery. Other people also utilize shipping containers as small studio apartment units for rent.
Shipping containers are built to last. They are not only sturdy but they are also made to endure the harshest elements. However, shipping containers will only last for a number of years.
This article discusses the durability of shipping containers. It explains how to strengthen a shipping container and what can damage them.
Shipping containers have become a popular building material because of their versatility. Knowing how long a shipping container lasts can help you plan its use. Click here for more information about shipping containers.
The Lifespan of a Shipping Container
The durability of containers designed to withstand travel by sea allows them to last an average of 25 years.
Existing cargo containers can be modified and transformed into container-based structures that last years. Although shipping containers are made of high-quality steel, their modifications may need maintenance over their lifetime.
Common Causes of Damage to Shipping Containers
During an ocean voyage, ships often encounter rough seas. If cargo is not secured correctly, it will shift when the vehicle moves.
The most common reasons for damage to shipping containers are:
- Water damage
- Impacts that the container took during transit
- Damages due to improper lashing or stuffing
One out of five cargo damages is the result of water damage. Water damage may occur for a variety of reasons:
- If a container is sealed and filled at high humidity, condensation can form inside
- If the temperature changes during the voyage, water vapor may condense inside the container, and moisture can damage the shipping container
- When weather conditions are rough and a container has holes, water can get in
It is crucial to fill your containers correctly. Uneven weight distribution and shifting cargo are two of the most common causes of shipping container damage.
In addition to poor packaging, other factors such as inadequate containers, improper loading pallets, and poor labeling can also damage a shipping container over time.
Inspect your shipping container for rust regularly. While rust might not seem like a big deal, it can damage corrugated steel despite steel’s incredible durability.
Rust is a result of a chemical reaction between metal and oxygen. If left untreated, rust can corrode metal into a dry oxide powder due to oxidation. The oxidation process converts the surface of the metal into rust, which is a visible sign of damage.
Elements that can cause rust and lead to fully corrosive metals include:
To prevent rust from forming on metal, you can use tools like sprays with a zinc-rich, cold galvanizing compound that acts as a barrier to water.
Shipping Container Damage Prevention
When stuffing a shipping container, the people who are involved with loading the containers should follow these damage-prevention tips:
- Carefully check the palletized cargo for wasted space. Fill empty spaces between the packages with airbags or other fillers on a pallet.
- Evenly distribute the weight of the container.
- Place heavy items in the center of the container rather than at either end.
- Pack heavy items at the bottom and lighter ones on top. Avoid packing anything loose that might move during travel and make a mess.
Choose the Right Container
Many different types of containers are available, including some that are short and wide. Choose a container that meets your requirements, and never overload it.
Be aware of possible weather changes that could affect the condition of your cargo. Getting containers with no fans, temperature control, or ventilation is often a waste of money.
Containers may overheat, especially in hot and humid climates. Ensure that the container has enough lashing points for your load.
Get in touch with the container operator, and learn from the experience of other clients. Remember that it is up to you, not the container operator, to ensure that your equipment meets safety standards.
Properly Check Your Container
To avoid mishaps, carefully check your container for traces of hazardous materials or other contaminants that could damage the shipment.
If you notice any structural damage when returning the container, such as a bent post rail or corner casting, have it repaired before using it again.
Always ensure that containers are dry and free from holes. Gaskets must not be rigid or damaged in any way.
Stains around the door area or rust on your containers could indicate a previous leak. You can check for holes more efficiently by doing a light test that reveals small holes inside.
Watch out for taped-up vents and old labels, as they can be misleading and cause delays. A few minutes spent securing your shipping container can protect it from damage during transit.
Suppose your container gets damaged because you failed to disclose pertinent information about your property. In that case, an insurance claim can be denied or reduced.
While a shipping container can last for an extremely long time, there are limits to the number of times you can transport a container.
Once the container has been deemed “too old” for shipping, it will likely be left to rust at a storage facility. But if you store your container correctly, you should be able to use it for a long time.
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