Essential Considerations When Choosing A Container Transportation Firm

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Ships have been used for many years to move cargo from one place to another. In many respects, it was a natural progression of more basic transportation techniques, such as the horse and cart which gave way to canal boats and trains. Moving things between countries was logically completed by ship; there were no other viable options, although in early times this meant a lot of labour as boxes were carried on and off the ships. With this in mind, it is actually surprising that shipping containers didn’t arrive on the scene until the mid-1950s.

A Quick History Recap

In fact, it was 1956 when Malcolm McLean, in conjunction with Keith Tantlinger created the first intermodal container. It was 8ft tall and 8ft wide and made from corrugated steel. A key part of the design was the addition of a twist-lock mechanism, this was positioned in each corner allowing the container to be attached to a crane and lifted onto the boat. The fact that the container was designed to be heavy enough and sturdy enough not to move on the ship and stay in position while in transit, meant that it could be safely used and then re-used. 

The creation of a viable container system meant that custom-designed ships were built to accommodate them, this was effectively the beginning of the container ship which has since grown to become a much larger beast.

There are obvious advantages to containerization:

  • Reduced Loading Time

A container can be loaded by the manufacturer or supplier and dropped off at the docks ready to dispatch, it’s then craned into position in a matter of minutes. This is much faster than arriving with a truckload of boxes that need to be manually moved from the truck to the hold of a ship. In short, container transportation saves you and the shipping company time.

  • Improved Safety

Containers are sealed, although customs have the right to check any container, in general, they are locked shut until they reach their destination, effectively reducing the likelihood of anything going missing while in transit. It’s also easier for the sender to pack the container and ensure there is no possibility of items being damaged, regardless of how rough the sea may get.

  • Identifiable

A container is easy to identify and pass on to the relevant party. This makes it simpler to identify all the parcels and parts sent and then ensure they are received by the right person in one piece.

Choosing a container transport firm should be easy. However, there are a few things you should consider before selecting a container transport company. 

Reputation

Potentially the most important consideration when committing to any service provider is how good is their reputation? You’ll want to start by talking to other people that may have used a container transportation firm, that could be friends, colleagues, business managers, or you can even turn to social media.

There will be plenty of people with an opinion regarding your proposed container transportation solution, just remember that it’s very difficult for a firm to satisfy every customer, there will be some negative comments. But, if the majority are positive and genuine then you’re off to a good start.

Of course, you should treat the first couple of container movements as a test run to ensure you are happy with their service. 

Types of Container Offered

It’s also important to spend some time looking at what types of containers they offer, not all companies make the same containers available. Before you decide or even review this stage you should think about what you are shipping, particularly its size and shape, as this will allow you to envision the best possible container and verify that the container transportation firm has what you need. 

  • Flat rack

The flat rack container has collapsible sides which can be easily folded out of the way, this makes them the best possible choice for shipping items like cars, boats, and large equipment.

  • Open Side

On this type of container, the side of the unit can be opened in one go, creating a large loading space, it makes it much easier for larger loads to be slid into position with the minimum of fuss. This type of container is often used when shipping vegetables. 

  • Refrigerated 

These don’t really need any explanation, they are sealed containers with standard doors at the end allowing you to add all your produce and the container will maintain the temperature set throughout the journey. It’s the perfect way to keep vegetables and other products at the right temperature while they are being shipped, helping to ensure they arrive as fresh as possible. 

  • Open-Top

An open-top container transportation system has no roof on the container. They can’t be easily stacked but they are useful when you need to ship something taller than the average container.

Alongside checking that the container transportation company offers the right type of container you should check on the sizes of the standard containers, you’ll usually find they are 10ft, 20ft, or 40ft long. It’s worth considering which best fits your needs.

Budget

If you’re using container transportation as a one-off then cost is less likely to be important to you. But, if you are looking to create a relationship with the company and ship containers on multiple occasions then you need to consider which company is offering the best price and whether they are worth using. 

Don’t forget that the cheapest option is not always the best, you should be checking their satisfaction and success rates, it’s worth paying a little extra for the right service. 

Final Thoughts on Container Transportation

The world is becoming greener and people are more aware of the impact of their actions. However, this is unlikely to affect the need for container transportation as it remains the most efficient way of moving items between places. 

If you’re looking to use a container transportation firm then do your homework first to ensure you have the one that is best suited to your needs.

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