6 Step Guide to Shipping Container Maintenance
Shipping containers are designed to withstand harsh marine environments when sailing the world on top of container ships, on the back of lorries and trains, and in storage at the port. They are generally constructed from steel, with stainless steel fittings, floors that are treated to prevent rotting and paint that prevents corrosion. That said, as with anything that is battered, exposed to the elements and has day to day usage, it’s going to require semi regular maintenance to keep it in top condition and ensure a long life.
Containers can suffer damage when being packed, which if done incorrectly can cause dents, bulges due to over packing or other damage. Damaged containers in need of repairs may end up non-compliant with international transportation regulations such as the the International Convention for Safe Containers (CSC), 1972. If so, they then become unsafe for transportation, or unsuitable for storage and construction. If your containers are in a poor condition, you should aim to inspect, repair and, if necessary, re-certify them as soon as possible.
Ensure a long service life of your shipping containers by:
- Keeping them well maintained and in a proper technical condition
- Use proper methods of loading them to prevent damage to the insides of the containers
- Avoid overloading containers to prevent damage to the structural integrity of the shipping container
- Follow international best practice when loading containers such as IMO/ILO/UNECE Guidelines for Packing of Cargo Transport Units.
Here is our simple guide to keeping your shipping container in top condition:
6 Steps to Keep Your Shipping Container In Top Shape
Step 1: Inspect and Repair the Container Roof
The first and most important part of the container to maintain is the roof of your shipping container. Second hand containers are often dented when having other shipping containers stacked on top of them. Dents can collect rain water which causes corrosion on chipped paint. Ensure that all dents are repaired and areas are treated with rust proof paint to prevent corrosion.
Step 2: Inspect, Remove and Treat Rusted Areas
Many shipping container websites erroneously suggest that because shipping containers are constructed from Cor-Ten steel that they are completely rust proof. This is not the case – Cor-Ten steel is preferable to other steel, and corrosion resistant, but not completely corrosion proof. The steel is sensitive to salt air environments and must be treated to ensure that it does not rust with specialist paint. Areas that have been dented, scratched or cut must be sealed, painted and rust proofed to ensure long life of the container.
Step 3: Examine, Lubricate and Repair Doors
Shipping containers are relatively simple, and only have a couple of moving parts in the door assemblies. As with anything with moving parts, they are subject to damage or wearing out with repeated use, and should be looked after to ensure they work correctly all the time. There are two important things to do when maintaining your shipping container doors.
The first is to clean them, and the second is to lubricate them.
Remove all dirt, grit and rust from the door hinges and locking bars using a commercial grade cleaner. Lubricate the door hinges and locking bars to ensure that they work correctly. It’s easy to use a lubricating spray (such as WD-40) on oil for the hinges, while a good quality grease works well for the cams.
Shipping containers are also designed to be a completely sealed environment and utilise rubber gasket type seals on the doors. These generally have a lifespan of around 10 years before they can perish and lose their ability to seal the door effectively. Keep these clean and replace them if they are cracked or worn out.
Step 4: Check container modifications
Shipping containers are well designed to avoid corrosion, water and dirt traps. Things get a little bit trickier after you cut them, join them, stack them and modify them in various ways, shapes and forms. This is especially important if you have used shipping containers as the basis for a modified container building with doors, windows and other openings.
Check your containers modified areas, especially around the joins or metal on metal areas to ensure that these are clean and free of corrosion. Take special care to look for depressions or other areas that may collect dirt, debris and water and clean them out. Remove any rust and treat the area with anti corrosive paint.
Step 5: Ensure the Container is on a Level Surface
One of the most important things you can do to ensure a long life of your shipping container is to install it on a level, well drained surface. This stops water from collecting in one area of the container, and prevents corrosion of the underside.
Step 6: Service the Refrigeration Unit
If your container is a refrigerated or ‘reefer’ container it will require occasional servicing. Preventative maintenance will stop downtime and costly repairs from occurring when you least expect them. Generally this sort of maintenance needs to be carried out by qualified technicians such as those from Gateway Container Sales who can carry out both mechanical and electrical troubleshooting on your reefer container as well as ensuring that the interior is clean and at a food grade standard if required.
Does Your Shipping Container Require Expert Attention?
Do you have a shipping container that’s in need of some extra tender loving care? A reefer that’s seen better days?
Our team of experts will save you downtime and money by ensuring preventative repairs and maintenance are carried out before things go wrong. It doesn’t matter if it’s dents or cuts that need patching, refrigerators that need repairs, containers that need to be upgraded, shipping container cleaning, shipping container refurbishment or ensuring that your container is certified to international standards. All of our repair work is done to international best practice.
All shipping containers are covered by our no nonsense guarantee, whether new, second hand or modified to your unique requirements. We will work to ensure that your container is of the highest quality, meets your requirements and has been fully maintained before delivery to your site.
Our highly skilled engineers provide our clients with the best container solutions that are available and we are so confident that customers will be satisfied with our commitment to going the extra mile that we provide a no hassle guarantee that covers workmanship, materials and even the delivery of your container to its final destination. Contact us now to arrange repairs or maintenance to your shipping container.