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The Journey of a Shipping Container

When you buy a container, do you ever wonder where it might have been first? Well, wonder no more as we explain the journey of a shipping container…

close up of a shipping container

A shipping container is always built to strict international standards, which define the weight, size, and maximum load weight. This means that wherever you decide to buy from, your containers will look more or less the same!

This is beneficial to consumers as it means containers can be stacked efficiently, transported and relocated using the same vehicles and equipment, and fit together seamlessly.

The fabrication of a shipping container usually takes place in China. Shipping containers can be manufactured in the UK but often at a higher cost due to the price of materials. 

man welding metal

Firstly, the steel is rolled out and cut into sheets which are used to produce the necessary components. To prepare the steel it is corrugated using a metal press machine, this is to ensure a strong and sturdy structure. Following this, the corrugated steel sheets are shot blasted with a dry sandblasting machine. The wall panels are then welded together, ready for the roof to be fitted. The shipping container then goes through quality control before being shot blasted a final time ready for the painting stage. 

Once the container is painted, the doors are fitted along with the decals and other final touches. The floorboards are installed and secured, and finally, the container is sealed to be made watertight. The container then goes through a water testing stage to make sure there are no holes or points of entry for water. 

man loading goods into a lorry on a forklift

The shipping container will typically then be sent to a factory in China where it will be loaded with goods and produce to be sent around the world to customers. This could be a standard container filled with anything from toys to TV’s, or refrigerated containers filled with meat or vegetables!  

After being filled with goods, the container will proceed on its journey by road to railheads. These will be located close to the factories so they can go by rail to the seaports. The containers will be stored and stacked up to eight high in the port, whilst they wait to be loaded by a special gantry crane onto the container ships. 

shipping containers in a cargo yard

Did you know, container ships can be up to 1,300ft (400m) long? That is the same distance around an Olympic running track! 

It will typically take the cargo ship around 20 days to get to the UK from Mumbai, India, or 35-40 from Beijing in Northern China.

shipping containers on a cargo ship

This is where the name “one trip shipping container” comes from, as the container has made one trip from overseas to the UK filled with goods!

Once the container reaches the UK, it is taken off the ship and the goods are unloaded and picked up by various hauliers and taken to shops & retailers, etc. which will then be added to stock to be sold.

The containers are then taken into our various depots across the UK and inspected for any damage - if no damage is found, the containers will be released into stock to be sold or hired. If damage is found, containers will be repaired or parts may be used for various modifications!

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