Stacking Shipping Containers: How High Can You Go?

Shipping containers have become known for a lot more than just shipping goods across great distances. In fact, lots of creative people have come to use them for many different activities, including reusing containers to build homes and even businesses. The idea of using a shipping container for a living or working space has taken the world by storm, and you want to join in on the wave.

That said, you may want more than one container to build the space that you need. Undoubtedly, you’ve thought about this and wondered if stacking shipping containers would be a good solution to the problem. After all, they stack rather well when shipping cargo across bodies of water; surely, they should be able to do the same for your needs.

Before you start piling up the containers, you need to know what’s the safe limit for containers so you can live and work peacefully in your container structure. This article has the answers that you are seeking.

How High Should You Be Stacking Shipping Containers?

How high you can stack your containers depends more on how you place them. Containers are created to be sturdy structures, but even they have their weak points that, when exploited, can damage the structure or make it collapse.

One of the most important things to know is that shipping containers are strongest at their four corners, where there are posts built into the corners to fortify them. By that extent, their weakest point happens to be along the middle of their long side, which has little structural support and can take less weight than any other region.

The smartest way to stack is to place containers exact length on top of each other. This way, all of the weight from the containers will press down evenly on each other’s four corners and provide maximum support. This way, you can stack many containers together with little problem.

If you have containers of different lengths, make sure you stack the smaller ones under the bigger ones. Contrary to what you might think, if the smaller containers are placed on top of the bigger ones (for example, two 20 ft. containers on one 40 ft. container), their combined weight would press into the weak midpoint of the big container and cause damage or even collapse.

Lastly, make sure you lock down your containers for maximum safety. No amount of good stacking can ensure protection from a hard storm or other natural disasters. So locking your units in place will protect them from shifting or falling off if these events occur.

Get the Containers You Need

Now that you know about properly stacking shipping containers, you can better determine how to build-up your containers to create a safer and more functional home or business.

Next, you just need a place to buy the shipping containers to start building your container structure the way you want.  At Equipment Management Services, we have everything that you need for a price that fits your budget. We offer both new and used containers, storage containers, mobile container offices, and even custom container modification services, so you have a one-stop shop for all your shipping container needs.

Check our site to learn more, or reach out to us to get the containers and services you need. We look forward to building together with you!

Amazing Shipping Container Bar Conversions

Most shipping containers accumulate as waste once they’ve fulfilled their original purpose. Fortunately, more business owners are thinking out of the box- literally!

Where diners and drive-ins once thrived, shipping container restaurant conversions are taking over one by one. Below are some of our favorite picks for shipping container’s that are converted into restaurants and bars. 

Powder Keg

Powder Keg combines everything people love about the outdoors- booze, pets, and rec areas! They feature a long modified shipping container as their outside bar. The modified container is, of course, the concept behind the name powder keg itself. Pumping out great food and drinks for all its hungry and thirsty patrons.

Also,  guests can look forward to ordering from numerous food trucks during much of the outdoor season. Customers can also enjoy patio games and party vibes under the spread of twinkling lights all the way to midnight. 

The Powder Keg’s unique look and functional container design is made possible by Equipment Management Services Container Modification services based in Houston Texas

Container Bar

If you want to see one of the most popular shipping container bars in Texas, you might want to make your way down to Rainey Street. Bridget Dunlap, who has designed a number of appealing bars, designed Container Bar with local patrons in mind. Shipping containers like this one highlight the best in creativity and resourcefulness. This bar used shipping container modification services to stack seven different shipping containers together.

Container Bar takes green businesses to new heights. The minimalist look and turnkey concept appeals to customers seeking a similar lifestyle.

Once you’re inside, you’ll feel like you are in a chic restaurant, not used shipping containers.

The bar includes a number of cubbies for patrons to enjoy a drink and relax. There are a number of private rooms featuring retro seating, comfy couches, and funky feature walls.

The Pod 

The Pod in San Antonio Texas takes custom container design beyond words. Dining out becomes a novel experience, not just a way to get food.

The custom cooking space utilizes several shipping containers covered in bright coats of paint. They opened with great success a few years back and have since renovated their space to meet the needs of their growing fan base!

The Pod includes a sports bar on the second floor, several outdoor patios from repurposed wood, and a playing field with impressive square footage.

Taco Bell Container Restaurant 

Taco Bell first utilized a shipping container at a film and music festival in Austin, several years ago. The chain introduced classic menu items sold food truck-style from the shipping container. The container opened up on all sides to reveal a fastfood restaurant. 

Now there is a permanent shipping container-based Taco Bell in South Gate California. This place was such a hit, it inspired other fast food chains to seek out restaurants build out of shipping containers. Like Starbucks, who later unveiled a drive-thru shipping container coffee shop. 

Bite-Sized Designs for New Shipping Container Restaurants

Whether you are looking into opening a shipping container restaurant or bar, you will need a space that inspires and delights potential customers.

EMS offers fully customized shipping containers for sale with affordable options and minimal retrofitting needed.

Contact us for a quote on new or used shipping containers to jumpstart your next foodie venture!

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

Why Do You Need Shipping Containers for Sale in Your Import/Export Business

For millennia, moving goods from one distant land to another has always been either by sea (on boats and ships) or by land (through animal-powered or wheeled vehicles). Recently, another mode of transportation has officially made it on the list—by air. After all, it is undeniable how fast airplanes could go, so it’s no wonder more and more manufacturers are trying out this option.

Read More