7 questions to ask when buying a quality container

Image: Flickr. DocChewbacca

Just as there is fast fashion, there are fast containers: cheaply fabricated boxes that do not last as long as you would expect. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the requirements a container should have, says Annabel d’Avillez, sales director at Flex-Box.

The Hong-Kong-headquartered container manufacturer exhibited its expertise at Intermodal Europe, an industry event that took place in Amsterdam last week. Here, it presented the seven questions every buyer should ask when selecting a container on the market.

“Of course, you pay for quality, but the container will last much longer. If the container is below the market price, you need to seriously ask yourself how it is built. In general, market parties are aware of this because they have experience, but there are also newcomers who may not be aware. That is why we have produced a list of questions to ask”, the sales director explained.

1. What is the tare weight?

The first to inquire is the tare weight of the container. This is the weight of the empty container. A weight of 2,185 kg is a good weight, the company points out. However, if the weight is 2040 kg, this could be a low-quality container.

2. How thick is the roof?

The thickness of the roof is another specification to look at, as a thin roof could indicate that it is prone to rust penetration. Rust is in first instance a cosmetic problem, but on the longer term it could lead to holes, explains d’Avillez. How thick should the roof be? t 2.0mm, says Flex-Box. If it is t 1.6 mm, it is a low-quality container.

3. How thick are the side panels?

The same question should be asked about the side panels, all five of them, emphasises the manufacturer. Also here, thin panels could lead to rust formation. From the outside, the panels should be 2 x 2.0 mm, from the inside 3 x 1.6 mm.

4. How strong is the floor payload?

A strong floor of the container is essential in order to handle heavy loads. A floor weight that holds less than 5,460 kg could lead to floor failure. A good container should hold a weight of 7,260 kg, says Flex-Box.

5. How long will the paint last?

For how many years is the paint on the panels guaranteed? This is another question to be asked. If this is 2 to 3 years, you will probably see rust coming through very soon. The right number of years for the paint to be guaranteed is 5, says the expert.

6. What is the composition of the external paint?

Apart from the lifespan of the paint, the composition of the paint is important. What is the right composition? Flex_box has the answer: zinc primer should be 30 micron, the middle coat 40 micron and the top coat 40 micron. This comes down to a total of 110 micron.

7. What special features does the container have?

Last but not least, one needs to look at the special features that give the container an added value. Such features could include a patented easy-open door with rubber coated handles, grease fittings on door hinges, high-locking handles, a fitted lock, four vents per side or fork pockets.

These are the features that a normal container may have, not to speak of the containers made for special cargo, such as the reefer container or tank containers. Such products are a whole different type of container, admits d’Avillez.

Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is the editor-in-chief of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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