Shipping Container Maintenance- Ensuring a long life for your containers

Shipping container maintenance

Shipping containers travel thousands of miles from their point of origin to their final destination, during which they are subjected to a variety of environmental variables. To ensure an uninterrupted flow, cargo container maintenance is a crucial step. Although, shipping box damage is unavoidable and it can occur anywhere during the journey. Minor damages are frequently overlooked, resulting in major damages to the shipping box and a reduction in the box's lifespan. Regular container maintenance keep damages in check and minimizes time, money, and misery. It is vital to understand the many types of cargo damages, how and why they occur.

How often do I check on my container’s health?

  • A new construction freight container must have its initial inspection no later than 5 years after it was produced. Thereafter at least every 30 months until it is decommissioned, sold for static storage, or no longer passes the safety checks.
  • Maintaining certification for your maritime containers ensures that they fulfill international safety standards for structural design, inspection, and maintenance of cargo boxes. A CSC safety approval plate must be attached to every shipping box, displaying the box's specifications, the owner, and the date it was produced or last inspected; otherwise, the box will not be permitted to move by sea or rail.
  • To maintain your cargo storage boxes in good shape, you'll need to do yearly or semi-annual maintenance. As a result, you can assure that cargo boxes are carried following international safety standards whether by land, air, or sea. You must also know what to check for and where to look for during maintenance. Catching issues early can help towards quick repairs.

What leads to container damage?

Bad stowage

One of the most common causes of physical damage to the cargo unit is bad stowing. Overloading the box, irregular weight distribution, loose cargo tying up, and improper use of dunnage can all cause the cargo to wobble during shipment. This is due to a lack of shipper monitoring, a lack of cargo stowing knowledge, and a desire to save money without comprehending the ramifications.

Improper handling

Damage to cargo boxes can also occur during loading and unloading. Punctures, dents, uneven stacking, and steel shipping container drops can all be caused by improper handling of the shipping units although, small dents and damages can be repaired. They must be examined on a regular basis due to the damage they undergo during transportation and shipment.

Low-quality shipping box

For checking the quality of metal shipping containers, there is a grading system. Like WWT or Wind and watertight, CW means Cargo Worthy, and IICL is International Institute of Container Lessors, As Is, or others. By checking the grades, one gets to know whether the box is of further use or not. The grades are based on their structure and aesthetics. Using grades one can examine the boxes before using them. A freight unit that looks healthy on the outside isn't always of the best quality.

Wrong cargo selection

There are a wide array of shipping units available in the marketplace for you to use depending upon the cargo you wish to transfer. It is critical to select the appropriate container for a given load. Both the cargo and the box are destroyed if the wrong kind of goods is transported. Spillage or contamination of goods, as well as any other cargo mishaps, can permanently damage it.

Choosing the incorrect mode of transportation

Another reason why they can be damaged would be due to improper mode of intermodal transportation. Not securing the boxes properly can result in punctures and dents around the body. Moreover, improper stacking during transit or the wrong mode of transportation can result in accidents. Train derailment, heat damage due to the lack of proper protection, road accidents can happen during transition.

Unforeseen events or accidents

While appropriate packing, stowage, container security, and reporting the right weight are all critical to successful delivery, the weather is one factor that continues to cause havoc during container transit. It is uncontrollable however, proper measures, on the other hand, may help to limit the harm. While one cannot control the weather, you can coat the fright unit with insulation to keep the temperature inside the container above the dew point. And in case of toppling fix the boxes with one another strongly, so that they don’t fall off the vessel.

Most common types of container damage

Scratch, patches, and dents

Forklift mishandling, scraping with other boxes, and road accidents causes scratches, patches, and dents. Poor stowage inside the maritime container is one of the most common causes of this kind of physical damage. Scratches and dents if left unchecked can provide an entry point for rust and corrosion. As long as the dent doesn’t go the entire way through the container wall, then while it impacts the grade there is not a need to fix them as the shipping box is still storage worthy.

Broken door, locks, and hinges


The freight boxes’ doors and locks are crucial since they may be bent or broken during delivery. This might make it difficult, if not impossible, to open the doors and obtain entrance to the cargo box. Damage to the door might make it more difficult to secure the unit securely.

At the terminal, examine the frames of the shipping box. If feasible, repair them; if not, tell the shipper before shipping.

Holes on walls and ceiling

Holes in the walls and ceiling are a serious issue since they cause goods to get damp, which can lead to corrosion. This isn't a common event, and perforated sides aren't common either, but they can happen. A forklift's prongs, for example, may penetrate or puncture the unit's side. You can weld a hole shut if it's tiny. Only trained professionals must carry out these welding repairs.

Tearing sheets

Again, ripped sheets aren't a natural occurrence. It can only happen in the event of an accident in which minor punctures become bigger. Repairs are not possible in such cases where the whole sheet of the metal shipping container goes through damage. Instead, in spite of discarding the entire sheet, you can change it as well. Schedule frequent maintenance inspections to avoid such issues. Keep an eye out for minor wear and tear and address them before they worsen.

Damaged floor

The shipping containers floors are made of one-inch-thick marine-grade plywood. It's tough and long-lasting, although even high-quality marine wood can deteriorate with time. The flooring may see the damage, have dents, or chips most over time. Unfortunately, any blemishes or gouges in the wood might hasten the decaying process, especially if you place the box directly on the moist ground. Replace any floors that are exhibiting indications of deterioration as soon as possible. Seal the floor with water-resistant paint every few years to further preserve it.

Damaged insulation and refrigeration

When it comes to a reefer container, there is obviously a possibility that the refrigeration machine can fail. A trained professional must address any refrigerated container repair. This will also aid in energy efficiency and lower operating expenses. If the container isn't insulating as it should, your refrigeration mechanic will examine it and propose either repairs or replacement of the unit.

Tips to keep your containers in good shape and functioning

Carry out regular inspection

To guarantee a good flow of operations, it is critical to undertake frequent surveys of the container. Get an expert to properly inspect it, generate a virtual proof, check for earlier damages, go for repairing if it demands, and make sure you have the appropriate freight unit before you start using it. It is an important step in container maintenance.

Remove and treat rusted areas

Shipping containers, contrary to common assumptions, are not completely rust-proof. Even Corten Steel ones, which have excellent corrosion resistance, are vulnerable to salty air and water. Both conventional and high cube containers are susceptible to corrosion. How do you stop shipping containers from getting rust?

Examine the interior and exterior for spots that have been scuffed, damaged, or torn frequently. As soon as feasible, treat these sections by painting, sealing, and rustproofing them.

Lubricate hinges and locks

The only moving parts on most cargo containers are the doors. Because the door hinges and container locks are such crucial elements, it's necessary to keep them clean and well-lubricated. You can ensure that the hinges and locks do not stick or flex when you open them by performing this sort of routine maintenance. Use a commercial-grade steel cleaner to clean the door hinges. This liquid cleans the hinges of any dust, grit, or grime, preventing them from becoming stuck. How do you lubricate a shipping container door? You can spray the doors with a lubricant such as WD-40 to ensure they open easily.

Inspect and treat plywood floor

You can repair the wooden floor of your maritime container on its own if it rots or splits. One can replace the plywood floor or individual boards of it if the floor is the only thing that has the damage. However, if the steel bottom has corrosion, the entire you will have to change the entire box.

Inspect corners and edges

Check the corners and edges of the shipment boxes for any damage for good upkeep. Dents, scrapes, and punctures are common on edges and corners. Keep an eye out for any damage and make any required repairs.

Check for leakage

Look out for any holes or punctures. Any such point could cause a moisture build-up inside the containers which can damage the cargo inside. But, how do you seal a leaking container? For minor leaks, you can simply weld the damaged area. However, in case of major tears, you make need to replace the entire part.

Service the electrical and refrigeration units

Reefers or insulated containers must undergo regular maintenance and inspection. It will help avoid failures and guarantee optimal operation. The repair is very important. The failure of a fully laden shipping box or unfavorable temperature variations might cause deterioration and, as a result, the loss of perishables. Regular maintenance can prevent such situations. To ensure error-free operation, manufacturers or shipping container suppliers propose an annual check.

Inspect Container Modifications

Cargo containers may withstand water and mud traps, as well as corrosion when left in their original construction. But, altered boxes require a closer inspection. Because dirt, dust, and rust can seep into joints and metal regions while cutting, joining, or stacking. Thus, maintenance becomes a little more difficult. Inspect the alterations made to the shipping units as part of routine maintenaeck nce. Make sure the joints and metal-on-metal regions are free of debris. Look for any depressions and chwhether they're accumulating dirt or debris that might cause long-term damage.

How does container insurance help against container damage?

Poor stowage, bad weather, or inadequate oversight. Many a thing may happen during container transportation. You'll need container insurance if you wind up with a bill for a damaged box. Boats, vehicles, and trailers transport millions of containers throughout the world. These movements expose them to several concerns. Furthermore, water transportation might be erratic. All of these types of transportation have the potential to harm the boxes. Shippers might find themselves in a financial bind with damaged containers.

Many shippers overlook container insurance as they want to save costs. Or because they don’t want to bother themselves with it. A freight forwarder without insurance might have to pay the entire value of the shipping box and the cargo in case of a total loss. Container damages may be hard to find. As a result, determining who is accountable for compensating for the harm is difficult. Many shippers choose to forego container insurance in order to save money. Or simply because they don't want to deal with it.

A freight forwarder without insurance bears the financial burden in the event of accidents. This is a significant disadvantage with respect to cost and logistics. The insurance comes to the rescue in this situation. It protects owners and users of equipment by covering a wide range of hazards. While cargo insurance covers the insurance for cargo; the product within is covered by a different type of it.

Container maintenance at LOTUS Containers Depot

LOTUS Containers has more than 300 partner container depots across the world, where we always have a wide range of container types available for you. LOTUS Container’s depot in Hamburg's port region offers a customized full-service package.

Located at one of the largest seaports in the world, we provide a wide array of services. While providing a smooth handling process, we take it upon us to clean, repair and maintain your containers. We also create CSC certificates and have special retrofitting and special construction services. Moreover, we keep the electronic history of all incomings and outgoings so your containers are safe with us.

Any questions? Just get in touch.