Whether you've opened a shipping container before or not, it can be a little difficult! Because of their distinctive design, people who have never opened one before may find the procedure strange.

However, knowing how to open the container doors correctly is crucial for the safety of your belongings and the container. With our step-by-step instructions, you will discover how to open a shipping container safely and correctly in this guide.

First and foremost, it's critical to comprehend a shipping container's structure before starting the process. You must understand the basic structure of a shipping container whether you plan to use it for storage or to create a unique living area.

Understanding the fundamentals of a shipping container's construction, including its doors, hinges, and challenging locking mechanisms, is essential to opening one correctly.

The doors of shipping containers must shut as tightly as possible because they are designed to keep out all wind and water when transporting goods across the ocean. Strong steel is used in the construction of shipping containers, making them extremely secure against wind, rain, dirt, and pests.

Vertical locking bars are installed on container doors, and they slide into locking bar brackets and locking cams located at the top and bottom of the door.

A system of latches secures the handles on shipping container doors. Doors can be opened to a full 270 degrees and are supported by four or five large hinges that are fixed to the container corner posts.

A small variation in door latches may be found in shipping containers of various types, such as high cube and refrigerated containers. Unless otherwise modified, almost all containers will have two cargo doors; however, these doors may have one or two locking bars on the right door.

That’s why, opening the right door must come before opening the left door for all shipping containers. They may get caught together if you attempt to open the doors at the same time.

Safety Precautions for opening a shipping shipping container

Safety Precautions

Before opening a shipping container, a few safety measures need to be followed. Here are some pointers on how to open your container safely, secure the cargo, and survey the area:

  • Check the outside of a container for damage that could pose a hazard before opening it, especially if it's your first time doing so.
  • Before trying to open your container, it's also crucial that it be placed on level ground. A sloped or uneven surface could jam or stall the doors. A shipping container on uneven ground may be challenging to open and for people to load or enter, even if the doors are accessible.
  • Verify that there are no obstacles or pieces of debris in the way of your shipping container doors.
  • If you can, open a shipping container and go inside with a friend to get extra assistance.

Tools and Equipment

Specialized tools or equipment, such as strong bolt cutters for special locking mechanisms, may be required to open the seal of a shipping container. Without these instruments, the procedure can become significantly more difficult.

When trying to open your container doors, using a crowbar or any other leverage tool might not be the best idea because you could end up damaging these tools or the container itself.

Refrain from attempting to open or secure shipping container doors with any tool that isn't made expressly for that purpose. When opening a shipping container, be mindful of your attire as well. For example, avoid opening it with open shoes in case the door catches your foot.

Lastly, you can use a door stop to secure heavy, large doors before you begin loading or unloading your container.

Additionally, it's critical to adequately secure your belongings, particularly if you're packing cargo or storage items into a container for off-site storage or transportation. To secure larger objects in place, use wood blocking.

Types of Shipping Container Seals

Certain shipping containers use seals or adhesive materials to keep their contents protected from the elements. These seals can harden and become more resilient over time. As such, opening the container necessitates getting past this complex closure system.

Seals are an essential component of a shipping container because, after the cargo is loaded, they firmly lock the doors. Opening a sealed container while in transit is not possible unless the seal is broken.

Although container seals come in a variety of forms, the most popular ones are bolt and cable seals also known as bullet seals. A bolt seal is a kind of metal pin that is occasionally used to lock doors on shipping containers. Bolt cutters are required to unlock it, even though it can be locked manually.

Since cable seals come in any length, they can be used to secure a variety of points and, if they are cut, serve as both a barrier to entry and proof of intrusion.

They must be cut off first because they make it impossible to open the container doors. Don’t forget that a minimum of one seal can be found on the right container door of a shipping container.

Inspecting the Container

To increase safety, we'd like to offer some insightful advice and best practices:

  • Shipping containers must receive routine maintenance in order to continue to function. If the locking mechanisms, hinges, and seals are not regularly maintained, problems may arise. Opening the container will become more difficult if these parts are not properly lubricated and maintained. They may stiffen or become difficult to work with.
  • Because of the handling and transportation processes involved in shipping, containers are subjected to a constant assault of wear and tear. As a result, the containers may develop cracks, kinks, or misalignments. These physical deformities may make it difficult for the doors to open properly and align.
  • Door gear may not function properly due to warping of the doors and locking rods or racking of the container frame. Cargo shifting during transit could be the cause of this. Verify the container's top and bottom door alignment and levelness by looking at it.
  • Door gaskets are made to protrude two or more fins against the wall or door next to it. These are normally flexible, but if the gasket is broken, they could harden or clog, which would jam the door shut or keep it from closing.
  • Strong security measures like analog locks, smart sensors, and monitoring devices are incorporated into some shipping containers to deter theft and unwanted access. While these features are essential for protecting the contents, they may unintentionally make opening the container more difficult.

Cutting and Removing Seals

There is at least one seal on the right container door of a shipping container. You may need to use a bolt cutter and follow the instructions below to remove it:

  • Wear your work gloves and safety glasses.
  • Grasp two handles of the bolt cutter horizontally with each hand.
  • Place the open jaws around the container seal's thinnest section.
  • In order to break the seal, squeeze the bolt cutter.
  • For security reasons, some containers that are shipped to high-risk locations or that are transporting valuable goods might have an extra seal.
  • On the right container door, the second seal is usually found at the base of the left locking bar.

Cutting and Removing Seals of shipping containers

Unlocking the Doors

The first thing you'll do is open the right door. Retainers hold the two handles firmly in place horizontally.

When you pull up on these lock rod handles, the door will probably begin to give way once the angle is greater than 90 degrees. By turning these handles, the door can be unlocked, and the vertical rods released from the cam keepers.

For each of the left door's handles, repeat the process. After you've unlocked both doors, you should arrange to securely pull open the thick steel door.

Now that the lock rod handles are vertical, grab both of them and pull with your leg muscles to keep your back from being stressed. Pull the right door first, then the left door.

Unloading and Handling Cargo

Be cautious when raising the handles if there is resistance, and listen for any noises emanating from the container. Occasionally, cargo that has moved may be pressing against the door. If this pressure makes the handles feel solid and rigid in their position, you should be ready to move the door further open if the latch is forced up by improperly packed cargo.

It is best to open containers cautiously and slowly. Now you’re ready to unload and handle your cargo. Before unloading your container, you might want to get professional assistance because you may need a pallet trolley or forklift for your heavy packages.

Keep in Mind

If you need professional help CMG Containers offers their expertise with a range of shipping container security and modification options!

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