Shipping Container VS. Sea Container: The Differences Explained

Historically wooden crates, sacks, and kegs were used to ship goods. World War II demanded an increased need for efficient shipping and in 1956 Malcolm McLean started what is now the modern-day shipping container industry. He created a rectangular box that could be shipped by water, land, and sea.

Shipping containers have revolutionized the ways goods are moved both domestically and internationally. Read on to learn the difference between a sea container and a shipping container so you can choose the right one for your needs.

The Issue

With the boon of shipping container houses, bars, and off-grid dwellings, there has been an increase in the misuse of terms among professionals and laypeople alike.

According to the Intermodal Steel Building Units and Container Homes Association, there are only two types of shipping containers. The two types are Maritime Shipping Containers and ISBU Modules. Below are the definitions of each.

What is A Sea Container?

A sea container is a Maritime Shipping Container that ships by sea, rail, or land. This container meets additional structural and weight allowances to ensure that it is safe to travel in these environments. 

The ISO, an independent, non-governmental international organization, determines the specifications of a sea shipping container. These specifications will vary based on the cargo. For example, sea containers for dry goods are different than sea containers for liquid goods.

Sea containers are often new containers that are certified to meet the rigid standards set by the ISO. 

What is a Shipping Container?

A shipping container is any container for storage or any type of container for construction or building. These do not have to be ISO certified, although many are. While it is always nice to have a brand new container, if you are looking for a stationary structure for storage, it is often cheaper to buy a used container.

The drawback of used containers is that you must ensure that they are properly cleaned out of the material they previously hauled. Depending on the type of goods stored, this may be a more complicated process. It is important to choose a company that has a history in the industry if you are purchasing a used container.

What is the Difference Between the Two?

All sea containers are shipping containers but not all shipping containers are sea containers. When a container no longer meets the specifications for being able to be shipped at sea, then it can be used as a land-based container.

Often these are the containers that are repurposed as homes or off-grid storage or living facilities. 

Now that you understand the difference between a shipping and sea container, you can choose the right container for your companies needs.

Need a Sea or Shipping Container in TX?

With our long history in the industry and hubs in Houston and Dallas, we can provide you with the sea or shipping container you need. We make it our mission to hire the right people, who sell the right products, using the right systems to make our customers happy.

Contact us and our talented team will ensure your expectations are exceeded. 

Houston Shipping Containers Ready to Be Transported to Their Rightful Owners

Across the Globe: The Evolution of Intermodal Container Transport

In the not to distant past, the movement of even the smallest of goods (like a piece of jewelry or a child’s toy) could take multiple transitions through different shipping containers. These days, however, an inter-modal container can ship a product halfway around the world without ever opening its doors to the light of day.

The evolution of these convenient, adaptable containers is a fascinating one.

Intermodal Container History

The history of intermodal transportation begins before mixed goods containers were considered.

The true intermodal definition includes the transportation of goods across multiple modes of transportation without any handling of the goods themselves. 

To qualify, even roughly, as an intermodal container, a container needs to transport goods and be transported by several means. The modern definition implicitly states that containers handle multiple internal boxes.

The Ancient World

Go back far enough and freight was shipped in whatever happened to hold enough of it to be worth sending off without breaking. Sacks, barrels, and crates all served the purpose of keeping goods together from as far back as 3000 BCE.

Horses carried goods inland to boats and boats sailed short distances across the Mediterranean or other short waterways. The boats were unloaded and the sacks were loaded onto other horses and onward it went.

It isn’t until the 18th century that the idea of stacking containers onto each other created the first need for real intermodal designs.

First Containers

It probably won’t surprise anyone to learn that the first containers transported coal. This is a material needed in bulk at the outset of the Industrial Revolution, and it would, by necessity, look for the fastest routes.

Coal shipping boxes started out as wooden structures called tubs. These moved along canals through England in the last part of the 18th century. 

By the mid 19th century, the tubs would be transferred from a barge to a railway. While coal is a single commodity, the same container being used as both a transportation medium and storage made these tubs the first true intermodal containers.

At the dawn of the 20th century, covered containers made their debut. These could be transferred more easily between the now robust rail system and the emerging roadways.

Developing Standardization

As the transportation mediums scaled up in both speed and size, containers needed to standardize. 

This allowed loading equipment for the containers to be designed. This also allowed logistics supervisors to plan for usable space.

Amorphous shapes were harder to space evenly and could cause issues such as drag and sheer at even the low (by today’s standard) speeds of rail and trucks.

Early containers of the 1920s barely measured more than 5 x 10 feet. They were not sturdy enough for stacking and frequently had sloped and curved ceiling joists.

Major advances in containers built for speed and with a high strength to weight ratio came about in World War II. Military supplies needed to move quickly and the containers needed to weigh less than the supplies inside.

Piggyback transport was used by loading trailers onto rail-car flats. This was the fastest way to move cargo without ever touching it and without cranes.

With cranes, large railway companies began moving dedicated containers onto truck beds as early as the 1950s. 

Containerization

Cargo started to move from country to country and across the oceans. The volume of freight demanded that ports and railways be equipped to deal with containers from all over.

This lead to a standardization of sizes and categories of weight across international borders. The designation of containers, or containerization, gives a total set of dimensions and weight.

The European standard came first in 1933. The standardization of containers were introduced across two categories: heavy and light. Each type also allowed for differences in open and closed type containers. Heavy containers were limited at a mass of five tons, paltry by today’s needs. 

Since 1984, modern intermodal equipment providers have been using containers capable of double-stack transport. 

This technique allows rail cars to carry two containers at once with appropriate safety. Ships can stack containers higher as they have less overall inertia per container. 

Modern Day

Currently, intermodal transportation standards are set by the ISO. These lay out three common sizes based on the 20-foot length increments of ships and rail flats. Though standards exist, they are upper limits, not exact.

An intermodal container might be 20 feet in length but then have an irregular height and width. The height and width doesn’t cause problems when shifting from one transportation modality to another.

The designation of twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) makes shipping records quick and easy to approximate. The three common sizes breakdown as follows:

  • high-cube: 40 x 8 x 9 and 6 inches
  • two TEU: 40 x 8 x 8 and 6 inches
  • one TEU: 20 x 8 x 8 and 6 inches

Variations on the height are most common with 4 and 3 inches appearing as a minimum range.

Internal equipment variations also exist. Most notably tankers, which have a standardized size in the outer shell but a rounded liquid container inside. Reefers, or refrigerated units, exist with the refrigeration units inside the container structure.

Finally, swap body containers are intended for free-standing offloads. These aren’t suitable to stack but have folding legs that make them usable without a crane.

Get Equipped

The history of intermodal container types isn’t as long as some technology. With only two hundred and fifty years beneath its belt, this tech has still manage to make major strides in capacity and speed.

If you need intermodal bulk containers for your freight needs, contact us for details on our stock and offerings

Shipping Container Depot Houston Texas

Thinking Outside the Box: Your Complete Guide to Buying Freight Containers

Why would you want to buy freight containers?

There is a multitude of reasons. The most obvious starts with wanting to ship cargo somewhere else. Other reasons are more creative. As an example, the University of Wales is developing a ‘box village’ that will be made entirely from freight containers.

That is part of the beauty of buying a container. Yes, it is a metal box, but you can do a lot with a metal box that is weatherproof. In fact, you could say that the use of a freight container is only limited by your imagination. You can find other ideas here.

No matter what you intend to do with your freight container you will need to make sure you read this complete guide BEFORE you buy.

Freight Containers – the Basics

Perhaps you have seen freight containers stacked near a port, pulled by a lorry, on a building site or even in someone’s backyard. So you already know what they look like. Did you know though, that not all freight containers are the same?

Dimensions

Freight containers are normally 10, 20, 30 or 40ft long. The standard height is 8 or 8.5 ft. A standard 40ft container can hold 40,000 pounds in weight.

There is standardization in the shape of ocean-going freight containers. This is rectangular. An alternative to the standard dimensions is the high cube. This is better suited to certain types of cargo.

It is also worth noting that the container can be open or closed, ventilated or insulated, and even refrigerated. The key determining factor is, of course, the cargo.

Material

No prizes for already knowing that freight containers are made from metal. Bonus point for knowing they are made from steel. However, the real prize is that they are made from a special type of steel designed to last longer outdoors.

This steel is called COR-TEN. When you see a freight container looking rusted you may think that the metal is just like any other metal that corrodes outdoors.

However, this is part of what makes this steel alloy so special. It forms a rust-like outer layer that then serves to protect the rest of the metal from corrosion. 

Lifespan 

In general, a standard freight container has a lifespan of 10 years. After which it is sold onto the used market.

A second-hand container has another 10 years or so of use. Of course, it depends partly on how it is used and whether it is maintained in any way.

There is such a thing as a single trip container which means they are only used once and then sold on. These containers could be used for 20 to 25 years.

How Much Do Freight Containers Cost?

New freight containers tend to have a more standardized price range and vary between $3000 and $5000 or sometimes more. It is possible to have containers built for you to special dimensions and specifications but obviously, that comes with  higher price tags.

Used containers can be as cheap as $1000 or cost upwards of a few thousand dollars. The key to remember with freight containers is that it is a buyers market. There is no shortage of containers. The limited life-span of using a container commercially means that there is always a steady supply to the second-hand market. However, like any used product, you need to do your due diligence before purchase. 

Where Can I Buy a Used Container?

The first thing to know when buying a container is that it is much better to buy locally. This will save you a small fortune in transportation costs. It is unlikely you will be able to buy internationally because the shipping cost will be too expensive. That said don’t discount the possibility of free transportation if you are buying locally. Always ask and always negotiate.

EMS is an excellent place to start your search. You can browse the website or get in touch with further questions. An alternative idea is to search for used containers on local online websites. 

Of course, one of the best ways is to call ahead and make an appointment at a shipping depot like EMS where you can see many containers on a single visit. 

Buying Second Hand – Top Tips

Although containers are extremely robust they are certainly not indestructible. You will need to physically inspect the containers. Follow these tips to make sure you get a good buy.

1. Outside

Check for dents and any scrapes in the exterior walls. It’s also important to check if the walls are intact or bent out of shape. You will expect trust but make sure it is not severe and with weak spots. 

2. Interior

Get inside and have a good look. Allow your eyes to adjust to the light or even better take a torch with you.

Check for weak spots. Look for holes and dents. Look for gouges any signs of leaks. Note if there are any unusual smells. There will always be odors so just make sure you are happy with how the container smells.

3. Roof

Make sure you inspect the roof. In particular, check the corners for damage as this is where the container is most likely knocked and hit when moving. 

Once again you are looking for holes and severe scrapes and general signs of wear and damage.

4. Doors

Make sure the doors open and close as they should. Avoid containers with ceased doors and with damaged seals. 

Freight Containers – Where Will Yours Go?

Buying freight containers is not as difficult as it may seem at first. Now that you are armed with this guide you can continue to gather more information when you are ready to make a smart purchase.

If you have questions please contact us here.

 
Houston Shipping Containers Ready to Be Transported to Their Rightful Owners

Shipping Logistics: 6 Things You Need to Know

According to recent research, 49% of shoppers stated that they are more compelled to shop at a store that offers same day delivery. While this percentage continues to increase, it encourages business owners to learn a little bit more about shipping logistics.

With the coming of the new year, it’s time to start thinking of ways you can bring more business into your company. Fortunately, learning more about shipping logistics is the perfect way to start.

Here are 6 things every business owner should know about shipping logistics and how it could benefit their company.

1. Warehousing

You don’t have to have your own business in order to know that warehousing is one of the most important aspects. Because this is where all of your merchandise is stored, this is where freight shippers and receivers will spend a majority of their efforts.

2. Know Your Truckload Size

As your company begins to grow, you’ll soon realize that investing in a truck is going to be essential. Because your customer base is not only going to be limited to your local clients, there are trucks that you can purchase that will store 48′ – 53″ in trailer volume so that you are able to deliver nationally.

3. Get Familiar With Embargo

If you plan on shipping used containers to international customers, you should be aware of embargos. Each country has specific requirements that can prevent your product from being handled in their territory. When learning about shipping logistics, we encourage you to read on each country’s embargo laws so that you don’t run into any interruptions.

4. Making A Blind Shipment

Believe it or not, there are instances where both shipping and receiving parties are unaware of each other. Because of the Bill of Lading, you’re able to have all of the interactions between shipper, broker, carrier, and agent handled on a weekly, monthly, and/or annual basis.

5. Figuring Out Axle Load

One of the primary concern of all business owners is making sure that the merchandise gets to the required location with minimal damage to offset the costs. That’s why it is essential to verify how much weight each axle holds before driving your products on national highways.

6. Picking The Right Agent

When it comes to shipping logistics, choosing the right agent is going to be important. Because they are on the front line handling transactions and heavy decision making, you want to make sure that this person is reliable, responsible, and represents your company well.

Learn About Shipping Logistics And More!

Not only does Equipment Management Services specialize in shipping logistics, but also in renting and selling used containers to business owners like yourself. Since we’ve been in business, we have worked hard to create credible relationships with small business owners throughout Houston and Dallas. With over 20,000 shipping containers on ground, we know that we are able to meet the needs of our customers.

Have questions? Looking to purchase shipping containers? We’re here to help! Be sure to contact us and a member of our team will be more than happy to reach out to you.

What’s in Store for the Future of Shipping and Logistics?

Local and regional shipping is one of the largest industries in the United States.

US shipping and logistics companies move over $4 trillion in goods every year. Businesses spend up to $99 billion in delivery costs to keep up with their customers’ demands.

With so much commerce at stake, it important to know what trends are in store for this busy trade. You can read further to find out how you can position your company to leverage these developments to your full advantage.

Shipping and Logistics Defined

Shipping and logistics are two terms that are usually intertwined. But they have their own unique meanings. Shipment means moving products from one place to another. Logistics refers to the processes you use to move these products between two points. These processes include ordering, purchasing, and warehousing.

Trends for the Future

Trends for the future of shipping and logistics look promising. Here are a few of them in a nutshell.

Automation and Technology

The logistics and shipping industry will always need a level of human interaction. Onsite human judgment calls can correct mistakes or prevent accidents.

Companies can automate other processes such as scheduling, payments, and pricing. Automating these features can help simplify these procedures for drivers and shippers.

Companies are using drones and robots to load commercial vehicles. Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) technology programs trucks to drive to their destination. Truck drivers never need to touch the steering wheel during the entire journey.

Transparency Shaped by Customer Experience

Consumers want to know where their products come from. They want to know how they’re made and moved. They want to know if manufacturing these products will hurt the environment.

The future of shipping depends on companies being able to answer these questions to an inquiring public. Companies now keep records that prove their products are eco-friendly and reduce waste. They’re also mindful of fair trade standards and pay fair prices to producers in developing countries.

Using Big Data to Make Better Decisions

Big data analytics provides a wealth of information on shipping for logistics companies. Logistics companies can get insights into routing and identifying obstacles in their supply chain model.

They can also streamline products and resources at the warehouse level.

Companies can use real-time traffic, climate, and fuel prices data to pinpoint optimal routes to a destination. They can also use predictive analytics to gauge consumer behavior and buying preferences.

Next Steps

The US shipping and logistics industry spent $1.5 trillion dollars in 2017 on its operations. Its the backbone for US retail sales which totaled over $5 trillion in 2017. Needless to say, the shipping industry is not going away any time soon and you need to be ready to anticipate it’s next direction.

If you’re ready to automate your existing shipping and logistics services, you can read more about ADAS truck technology here. You’ll learn all about ADAS’ breakthrough technology that improves efficiency and safety for commercial vehicles.

Don’t forget to check our blog for more helpful information on considerations for planning a shipping business. We’re experts in the shipping and maritime service industry.

Give us a call today!

Informational Things You Need to Know About Cargo Containers Before Buying One

The seaborne shipping trade around the world is worth about $12 trillion dollars, and container shipping accounts for about 60 percent of that trade. Is your company poised to participate in this massive market? If that is the case, you’ll need to purchase the right cargo containers from the right source.

Cargo containers may all look the same, but they’re actually not all alike. Before you make this investment, there’s some key information you should know. We’ve put together the essential basics right here — keep reading to learn what you need!

Buying Cargo Containers for Business Purposes

First, let’s take a look at the things you’ll need to know before you buy a cargo container for business shipping.

1. Specialty Containers Exist

The kind of container you should get depends on what you’ll be shipping. For example, if you’re shipping food items that could spoil or melt, you’ll want to look for climate-controlled options. If you’re shipping large machinery or other items that won’t pack well in standard containers, consider open-top containers instead.

For shipping vehicles such as boats, cars, or certain machinery, flat rack containers are your best choice. For liquids like oils or chemicals, you’ll need shipping tanks instead. And open-side containers work for certain vegetables that spoil in the wrong conditions, like potatoes.

2. Choose the Right Size

In addition to the type of container, you’ll also need to choose the proper size for your needs. Standard containers are often 8.5 feet high, while high cube containers are 9.5 feet high. The right size depends on what you’ll be shipping, as well as how much of it you’ll ship.

All shipping containers come in standardized sizes, which makes them easy to load and unload. For oddly-sized items, you’ll need one of the specialty container types listed above.

3. Consider Used or New

Plenty of used shipping container retailers can get you what you need at a discount. However, when you buy used, you might have a harder time finding the exact size and style you need. Thus, buying used is great if you’re buying a standard type of container. But for some specialty types, you might need to look for new containers.

4. Know the Shipping Methods

The goods you ship will usually make their journey in a number of different ways. First, they might travel via tractor-trailer across the land. Trucks can then load their containers directly onto cargo ships, to make the journey overseas. These large ocean ships follow fixed schedules and routes to save money while arriving on time.

Trains may also be used to ship goods on land — they’re actually more efficient than large trucks. Cranes can unload containers from a ship onto a train. Finally, smaller freight containers can get shipped by airplane. However, this option greatly limits how much you can ship at once, and it’s also much more expensive.

Buying Cargo Containers for Personal Use

Next, you might want a used or new cargo container for many non-business-related reasons. Here’s what you should know before you make the purchase.

1. Consider Storage

Storing your shipping container can pose its own challenges. Before you buy, check to see if you’ll need a permit to put a shipping container on your property. Typically, you’ll need a permit to store these containers in highly public spaces or residential areas. But if you live in a more rural area, you might not need a permit.

If you want to have the container on your property permanently, the requirements may be different than those for temporary storage. Know what you’re getting into before you buy, so you won’t get hit with fines or other trouble.

2. Know How Long You’ll Need it For

Often, it’s tempting to rent a container rather than buying one. But if you plan to use it for a couple of years or more, it makes more financial sense to buy one. When you buy a shipping container for personal use, it’s helpful to have the option to customize and make changes to it. Why rent a container that you have to send back intact, when you could buy one and modify it exactly how you want?

3. Get Your Site Ready

You’ll need to prep the permanent site of your shipping container before it arrives. The exact prep depends on what you’ll use the container for, and how long it will be there. Dry, level land won’t need much, or any prep, before it can host a shipping container. But damp or uneven land might need to get filled or regraded first. Land that’s rocky, sloped, or prone to floods is never good for a shipping container. Choose the space wisely, and you’ll have less work to do in the end.

4. Think About Security

Some shipping containers have built-in security measures. These can be helpful if you plan to use the container for purposes like storage. If your container doesn’t have a lock, you can also buy an exterior bolt lock for protection. However, some containers come with interior locking mechanisms instead, or you can have one installed. These offer better security since they can’t be destroyed with a pair of bolt cutters.

You might need different locking mechanisms altogether if you plan to turn your container into a home or business. In this case, you’ll probably need to install doors and windows with more standard lock styles.

5. Buy the Right Features

Just as with shipping containers for business purposes, you should also consider the features of a container for personal use. Look for door entry options, shelving, windows, and other features that will make your container easier to work with. You can also buy from a brand that offers container modifications.

Where to Find Cargo Containers

Now that you have a clear idea of what you need, it’s time to find the company that sells the right cargo containers at a reasonable price. Did you know that you can find shipping containers for both business and personal use at just one retailer? We’ve got the containers to meet all kinds of needs — learn more about what we have to offer here!

Sea Your Shipment Through: A Complete Guide to Ocean Shipping Containers

Thanks to shipping containers, international trade is made infinitely easier. Here in Texas, there are 29 ports of entry that are helping to generate $650 billion in trade each year. The port here in Houston is the nerve center to one of the nation’s busiest waterways. This one port alone handles so much tonnage of cargo shipped by ocean freight that it ranks 15th in the country.

None of this would be possible though without the use of sea containers. We’ve put together the definitive guide on these containers that are so essential.

Types of Sea Containers

There are 8 different styles of containers that are used for ocean shipping. The one you choose will depend on what your cargo is.

Standard Container

These containers are completely enclosed on all sides. At one of the short ends, there are two large doors. There are two standard sizes, a 20 foot and a 40-foot length. These containers work well for any dry cargo. Anything that is in boxes, bags, or on pallets work well in these containers.

Hardtop Container

A hardtop container is almost identical to a standard container. The main difference is that the top is designed to be removable. This is extremely helpful for when you have heavy cargo you need to load. A crane can lift the cargo up, over, and in. These containers also come in 20 and 40-foot lengths.

Open Top Container

Think of a standard container and take the top off. These containers will typically have a tarpaulin roof. Then the door frame will disconnect and swing out. These containers work well for items that need to be dropped into a container. But they may not be the best choice for over-sized items that interfere with the stabilizer bars.

Ventilated Container

Some cargo requires ventilation, that is where these containers come in. They look exactly like a standard container, except they have openings at the top and bottom. This allows for air to flow.

Insulated Container

Insulated containers are a standard container with Polyurethane foam on the walls. This helps maintain the temperature inside the container. You may also find that there is a “clip on” unit for ventilating. If your cargo needs to be kept at a constant temperature then this is a smart choice.

Reefer Container

If you need more serious temperature control or refrigeration then you need to consider a reefer. These are refrigerated containers. Just like the insulated version, their walls are lined with Polyurethane foam. The difference is that they have powerful compressors built in. This will keep the internal temperature at or below freezing.  If your cargo is temperature sensitive such as produce or white wine, then regulation of the container environment is vital to maintaining product quality.

Platform Container

If all you need is a base then a platform container is the way to go. They are typically a steel frame with wood flooring. Over-sized cargo works best when transported on platform containers. You just need to ensure that anything you transport is secured to the platform.

Flat Rack Container

These containers are kind of like a very large pallet. There is no ceiling or walls on the long sides. The walls on the short ends are collapsible. They also typically have a wood floor. If you need to ship bulky or over-sides cargo then you need a flat rack. If you pack them correctly, you can have them stacked on top of each other.

Ocean Container Construction

Any sea shipping container that is worth its salt will be made of steel. It’s strong enough for stacking many containers on top of each other. It also is corrosion resistant which is vital for the harsh salt air. That durability also makes them a great building material for a home or office. Their structural design of beams and sheets of metal give them the internal strength to withstand the weather elements here in Texas and across the country.

Sea Containers vs. Storage Containers

If you intend to use your containers for shipping overseas then you need to make sure they are ISO certified seaworthy. There should be a plate on the container that states its approval for transport. Buy the wrong type of container and your shipment will get rejected at the port. This will cause you to incur all kinds of extra fees.

Containers that are intended only for storage are not of the same quality and durability. These containers are only made to be watertight.

You will also find that storage containers are modified to fit their intended purpose. They can be cut to any length, have the doors moved, or add extra doors.

Ocean Containers for Building Construction

Steel containers may be durable, but they have a useful lifespan. Often times they are retired at ports where there tend to be more imports than exports.

Ports in the west are an example of this. The ports here in Texas handle 22 percent of all US port tonnage. So there are a lot of containers coming through.

If you are looking for a discount, you may be able to find a used shipping container to incorporate into your building. Just know that these containers will have wear and tear to them.

Purchase an Ocean Container Today

If you are in need of a container for your cargo the first thing you need to think about is what special needs your cargo has. Take into consideration if it is especially heavy or large. Also, think about if it needs temperature control of some sort.

If you are looking to build with your sea containers you may not need to go all out with a certified one. Or you could look for one that is no longer used in ocean freight.

Whatever your container needs, the best thing to do is speak to an expert. They can help you select the right container.

Contact us today and we can help you find the right sea contai