Have you ever tried loading a shipping container using a tractor or piece of heavy machinery that won’t fit in the entryway? Or have you ever stored something in your cargo container that would be more quickly moved if you were able to access it with your forklift?
You’re in luck, we think you’d benefit from using a side opening container. Today, we’re looking at what these specialty containers are, how their doors work, and the unique advantages they give to our customers.
If you’re unfamiliar with the world of intermodal storage containers, here’s a little synopsis:
Traditional shipping containers come with one pair of doors on one narrow end of the unit. These doors are functional, and will work just fine for the majority of us. But they can limit how easy it is to load and offload cargo, the order in which we need to load the container, and what types of cargo will ultimately fit.
A side opening container or open side container is a shipping container that, in addition to the regular, lockable double doors located on one end, includes an additional pair of bi-fold doors on one of the longer sides.
The bi-fold function of the side doors allows for two opening sizes. If you’re working with a 20 foot side opening container for example, the initial hinges that swing open nearest to the center of the container make for an eight foot opening. You are then able to open the side doors even further in order to create an opening that allows for a nearly 20 foot opening. That’s why you’ll also hear these referred to as “full-side access containers.”
Side opening containers are only purchasable in either new or “one-trip” conditions. Similar to other specialty container types, the newness implies the quality and strength of the structure. You’ll want a strong, undamaged in order for it to best support the installation and function of these doors.
These containers can be purchased in 20’ and 40’ lengths, just like regular shipping containers. Furthermore, variations with standard height (8’6”) and high cube height (9’6”) are available as well.
The exact type of open side container you choose will determine its additional features. Most are constructed almost entirely with 14-gauge steel and may or may not include fork pockets to allow you to move the containers with forklifts.
The majority of containers are all manufactured for ISO specifications.
Opening your full-side access container doors is easy, and the doors are made almost identically to the regular doors on the narrow end of a shipping container. They can be opened from either the inside or the outside depending on the handles that come with a unit, or you can install handles for your workers if that works best for your needs.
The doors usually open a full 270°, enabling you to move wide cargo into the shipping container and enjoy full mobility without getting cargo stuck on either door.
Some side opening containers include doors that have water sealing to help keep the interior cargo and the container secure from water damage and some types of vermin.
Alternatively, some types of side opening shipping containers may use roller doors instead of regular doors. These roller doors will open from bottom to top and roll into the container’s top side. This is ideal for loading larger than average cargo into a container.
Your open side shipping containers come with plenty of benefits, especially compared to their standard door counterparts.
For starters, these containers make it much easier to load and offload certain types of cargo.
With standard end-wall doors, you need to carefully plan your loading process so that you and your workers can get to important cargo quickly. Furthermore, reaching and unloading a large piece of cargo located deep inside a container can be challenging in a time-sensitive situation. It might require you to empty out all of the stored items between it and your doorway.
Side opening containers solve this problem by allowing you to access the middle or rear of a shipping container without having to dig through to your target cargo from the front. The worst case scenario is that you have an item on the opposite side of your side opening doors, but that would mean only being 8 feet or less from your target item – way less to move than something 20 feet or 40 feet inside a container.
Additionally, loading cargo with a forklift, tractor, or a bobcat is a lot easier thanks to the location of these doors. Easily lift and move heavy, awkward items with your machinery rather than requiring your whole team to try and lift with their legs and backs. We’ve all been there, but typically we only do it wrong once before we say to ourselves, “We’re never doing that again!” This will prevent working harder than you need to and avoid accidental serious injuries.
Extra-large items that don’t fit in regular shipping container doors can be more easily stored in standard shipping containers with these inclusions. This also means that utilizing the available space in a given shipping container will be easier and more efficient. You won’t have to make as many concessions with empty space with a side opening shipping container.
There are plenty of practical uses for these container types. Let’s take a look at a few ways you might decide to use yours.
As with their regular counterparts, side opening shipping containers are perfect storage solutions – particularly for storing bulky goods that need to be retrieved quickly and easily. They’re particularly a great choice for people who need a container for long-term or an unknown period of time. We’ve all made the mistake of packing a container or trailer without considering what we’ll need access to most or first. This challenge is exacerbated by long-term storage plans as you can never fully predict what you might need and when.
They also serve well for transportation. Because they are made with the same high-quality steel materials, you can use them for ocean transport or truck transport depending on your needs. Their shape and familiar model mean you can combine desiccants or other dehumidifying solutions from other containers without having to make many adjustments.
These days, plenty of people are also looking into using shipping containers as homes, business infrastructure, retail shops, bars and restaurants. Side opening shipping containers are particularly good for this purpose. Combining several of these will allow builders or homemakers to create structures with varying entrances and exits.
The already installed door hardware on these containers allows for easy conversion into a modern, large glass front, custom bars, or big commercial sliding doors.
If you’re looking for one of these specialty containers, click the button below and hop on into our Ecommerce site. It’s easy to use to explore all our shipping container inventory and accessories.