How to dismantle shipping containers?

Shipping containers are conex boxes designed to store and transport goods nationally and internationally via various modes of transport. After reaching their life expectancy or to suit other purposes, companies consider dismantling cargo containers. It takes a lot of precision and hard work to dismantle shipping containers. A step-by-step procedure helps in a secure and valuable disassembling of the parts that are further shipped to either be destroyed or recycled as raw materials. It helps preserve the value of containers as, in some instances, shipping containers are dismantled to be customised and repurposed as commercial spaces. Cutting through the corrugated steel of shipping containers becomes more accessible with the right tools and equipment. The blog highlights the process of dismantling cargo containers.

What are the parts of a shipping container?

Each part of the container contributes to its structural durability, and removing any facet affects its integrity. The different parts of a shipping container are as follows-

  1. Container doors – These cargo doors are solid and sturdy. Depending on the type, a container may have one or two doors present to seal the container shut to any external environment or damage.
  2. Corner Castings – These are structural elements built of steel attached to all eight corners of an ISO shipping container. These corner posts have openings for twist locks to help connect one container to the other or equipment such as forklifts and cranes.
  3. Roof – The roofs of shipping containers are built of corrugated steel to make them weather resistant and avoid rusting since the top is a weak part of shipping containers.
  4. Side walls – Shipping containers generally have two solid and thick sidewalls. The waves patterned in the sidewalls allot extra rigidity to the container to help it withstand pressure and impact while shipping.
  5. Cross members – These structural frameworks between the ground and container floor are composed of beams or joists. They prevent moisture from percolating inside the container through the floor.
  6. Container Floor – Bamboo flooring for shipping containers is a cost-effective solution. The bamboo flooring makes it moisture-resistant, durable, and renewable. The infusing of pesticides in the flooring makes it resistant to pests and diseases.

Why dismantle shipping containers?

Shipping containers are large steel boxes built to store and transport goods to maintain the import and export flow and avoid any disruptions in the supply chain. Containers are vital for secure and durable international shipping as they prevent cargo damage during transit. Containers are dismantled under three conditions-

  1. Repurpose containers – After utilising their life at shipping and transportation, they are often repurposed as storage containers. They can be modified or customised for commercial purposes too. Used containers are converted into cafes, offices, cabins and gyms. Adding a different floor structure, ramps, sliding doors, and lock systems can give containers a new look.
  2. Recycle containers – Shipping containers are made of steel that can be recycled and used to produce new products. The energy spent in iron ore extraction and mining is significantly less, making it environmentally friendly. Different parts of the container can be given away to manufacturers as raw materials for spare or repair parts for other containers. It reduces the hefty charges of ordering or manufacturing newer parts from natural materials.
  3. Dispose shipping containers – When shipping containers have spent many years in shipping and have been damaged beyond any repairs or alterations, they are discarded. Before being disposed of, containers are cleared for harmful substances such as asbestos and lead by dismantling the container.

Tools for cutting through a shipping container

There are three valuable tools based on their applications to cut down sections of shipping containers.

  1. Angle Grinder – It is round and one of the most commonly used tools that offer precise and straight cuts through any kind of steel.
  2. Reciprocating Saw– It is a long blade with teeth that helps cut through corrugated steel by accessing trickier corners. It gives it an advantage over an angle grinder.
  3. Plasma Cutter – They are tools that can cut different shapes through almost any steel. They make use of electricity to operate and therefore require less manual effort.

Process of dismantling shipping containers

  1. The company in charge of dismantling must ensure necessary equipment and proper PPE kits be given to the workers. Gloves, eyewear, earmuffs, shoes and masks are needed to reduce risks of any harm to the workers. Equipment and tools such as hammers, grinders and plasma cutters are much needed.
  2. Stabilise the shipping container so that it does not move while dismantling. Containers are often anchored to flatbeds to ensure they stay intact in their position.
  3. The doors should be opened, and locks and hinges should be removed. The doors can then be dismantled using a reciprocating saw to cut along their hinges.
  4. Depending on the roof’s strength, flat or corrugated, using a reciprocating saw or plasma cutter along the roof’s seam helps dismantle it.
  5. The same tools can remove the side panels by cutting along the seams.
  6. Remove the corner posts and dismantle the floor by cutting along the seam attached to the cross members.
  7. The cross members are disassembled by cutting through the welds and bolts holding the beam. A reciprocating saw, or a grinder is helpful for this purpose.
  8. The last step is to remove any asbestos or lead insulation or lining to allow safe disposal of the dismantled container. The disassembled parts are then ready to be transported and disposed of.

Shipping containers are often dismantled using the necessary tools and equipment. While trying to dismantle shipping containers, it is essential to have proper training and take necessary precautions. The process of dismantling the shipping container has been simplified for your knowledge.

LOTUS Containers is a prominent marketer of shipping containers that offers premium shipping container services. We provide new and used shipping containers at budget-friendly prices.

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