COVID-19 Updates: Operations continue as we are monitoring the situation closely to ensure the health and safety of our customers and our personnel.   > Stay Informed.

How Is a Shipping Container Loaded and Delivered?
Feb 2021

How Is a Shipping Container Loaded and Delivered?

Posted By   |  0 Comment

If you have arranged to receive shipping containers at your site, it’s important to understand what is expected from the delivery team at your end. Although designed for easy delivery, if your property or site is not properly prepared, your shipping container company might not be able to complete the delivery as planned.

When this happens, although the company can’t charge you for the cost of the container, they can and will charge you for delivery. Here are instructions to help you prepare for shipping container moving and delivery at your site.

Consider Size and Space

First and foremost you have to consider the size of the container you require and if you realistically have the space to accommodate that size. Rental shipping containers come in standard sizes of 10′, 20′ and 40′ lengths. Not only do you need to have the physical space for the container to sit, but also space for the delivery truck to maneuver.

Trucks will have to make wide turns as well as maneuver to safely set up your delivery. The truck itself is about 10’ wide and requires a minimum of a foot on each side for a total of 12’ in total. The space for navigating the delivery is as follows:

  • 20’ container = 60′
  • 40’ containers = 120′

This is the minimum space required for the truck to drive in, deliver the container and then drive back out. However, there are also height restrictions to consider. The truck, including the container, is 13.5’. Once it tilts to unload the container it reaches up to 16’. The area must be clear of obstructions such as tree branches, building overheads like awnings and, of course, power lines that can put the driver and those in the area at risk of electrocution.

Hard Surface for Deposit

Next, the delivery truck can’t deliver to areas that pose a risk for sinking. Because they can weigh as much as 45,000-lbs, they can’t travel or deliver on soft surfaces like mud or wet grass as they’ll be at risk of getting stuck. Drivers will assess the risk and decide whether they can make the delivery safely, so a hard, dry surface is a must. Also, even if the driver determines they can safely drive into the area if the spot you’ve chosen is too soft, your container will sink making it impossible to open the doors. If you absolutely must have shipping containers, and the only spot available is too soft, you can consider adding the following to the site:

  • Concrete footing
  • Railroad ties
  • Asphalt
  • A gravel bed

Any of these additions will make the ground more solid so the delivery is safer and the container won’t sink once it is deposited.

Driver Safety

As mentioned, if the driver arrives at your site and determines the delivery is unsafe for any reason, they can make the decision not to complete your delivery. In hand with the measurement considerations above, measure for the following:

  • Tilt-Bed trucks: Require 55′ of additional space to deliver (75′ total for 20′ containers)
  • Roll-Off trucks: Require 80′ of additional space (120′ total for 40′ containers)

Site Access Limitations

Whether this is a residential or commercial delivery, space to maneuver is important. Smaller sites will not be able to accommodate a 40’ shipping container because they are delivered on a tractor-trailer combination. Even simply turning off the road requires extra space.

Therefore, often residential and smaller sites might need to consider using 20’ containers instead of 40’. The mode of delivery used for this size is a roll-back style straight truck allowing the driver to maneuver more easily. Therefore, you should always discuss possible site access limitations to make sure you order the right size shipping containers.

Avoid Standing Water

Even if the ground is dry and firm on the day of delivery, you have to choose a spot that won’t be at high risk of collecting water. The shipping containers are sturdily designed to avoid or even withstand some rusting since they are made of steel. However, if you place them in a spot that is prone to gather standing water, continuous exposure will cause the steel to fail. Within a few years, the floor of the container will soften leading to serious damage to the container and the goods stored inside.

To reduce the risk of water damage, the spot where you wish to store the container should have something in place to keep the container slightly raised off the ground such as wood blocks or railroad ties. You’ll need:

  • 2-3 pieces for 20′ containers
  • 4-6 pieces for 40′ containers

You can find 8′ long 4 x 4’s or railroad ties at most major lumber yards or home renovation stores.

Keep Doors Level

Nothing is worse than having your container delivered and loaded only to find the weight has led to sinking issues. This can make it difficult or impossible to open and close the container doors. Uneven loading within the container can cause the container to lean which interferes with keeping the doors level.

Therefore, always try to keep your container organized when loading it to help distribute weight evenly. Also, when placing your wood blocks in preparation to receive your container delivery, always put a set at the far length of the container where the doors are located to help keep the doors aligned.

Shipping Container Moving

If you have shipping containers at your site and are moving, you’ll need to consider all of the above details for receiving the containers at your new site. Be sure to measure everything at the site to ensure it provides ample access, maneuverability and space to deliver, unload and store your containers.

The spot you wish them offloaded also has to be dry and firm, with your wood footing in place. An important aspect is also determining if the cargo doors should face the cab or rear of the truck before the delivery. This way the driver can position the container on their truck so the container doors are accessible once it is deposited at its new site.

If you would like more information on shipping container moving or rentals, call Sigma at 1-877-225-7762 or contact us here.

Tom Bray is a freelance writer with over five years experience writing for online publications and over ten years in business and sales. He studied journalism and media and has written for various online outlets on multiple topics. His specialty subjects are shipping containers and transport logistics.

Tom’s passion for writing and transport logistics motivates him to provide frequent direct marketing content that can show you how a shipping container can be effectively utilized and modified to each person’s needs.

You can connect with Tom via email at