Affordable Corporate Unloading Services

Tips to Safely Unload a Shipping Container

Unloading a shipping container is an important process in the transportation life-cycle, which requires meticulous planning and execution. However, people often don’t pay enough attention to the preparation part of it; lack of which can lead to serious damages and injuries. Hence, let’s find out what measures you need to take to unload your shipping container safely.

  1. Obtain information on the contents of the container first. Based on which you need to arrange for the required unloading equipment.
  2. Dedicate an exclusive site, free from unnecessary vehicles and people, for unloading the container. This way, you will avoid accidents and damages.
  3. Wear appropriate clothing, as well as heavy-duty boots and gloves for your own safety.
  4. Provide enough lighting to make the inside of the container clearly visible. Install battery-powered lights if natural lighting is limited.
  5. Use a smooth sloping ramp when a loading bay is not available for easy access.
  6. Ensure the container is placed on a leveled surface. If required, install container support legs with same height settings.



One of the least asked questions regarding a shipping container is how to unload one safely. People are usually interested in knowing the other things about a shipping container, and thus, this question is the last one to pop into their minds.

Unloading a shipping container is not an easy task. The top priority of the people involved in unloading the consignments is to make sure everything is kept safe. Safety depends on the size and weight of the structures. Once that is determined, focusing on the tools to use for the unloading process can be identified.


Unloading a 20ft shipping container and a 40ft container shipping container is relatively easy. But for bigger containers, you can’t use a forklift as it is not feasible. In such cases, however, the shipping companies usually use cranes.

Self-Offloading Trailers

Let’s say there is a shipping container with a built-in kitchen and all the required equipment. You can’t just go about offloading it without the right equipment. In this case, the most commonly used equipment would be a self-offloading trailer. These can handle a huge amount of weight, and they can easily place the containers without damaging them.

Stronger Supports

At times, when the cranes, forklifts, and self-offloading trailers don’t work, the need to install steel supports arises. Thicker beams are built at the top and the bottom, allowing equal balance when the unit is being unloaded. Creating equal balance is important to avoid the tipping of the load due to unequal balance.




So you need to stuff or strip a container, but you don’t have access to a loading dock. What are your options? There are lots of different equipment options and processes that can help you get the job done.

How you go about procuring the right equipment depends on your operation and budget. Buying and maintaining your own equipment may make sense if you’ve got an established operation with regular container throughput. But if you’re running a shorter term project or have capital constraints, renting the equipment, or paying a contractor to supply a container handling service, may be right for you.

From an operating standpoint, you have two general options for loading and unloading containers without a dock:


  • Lift the cargo between the ground and the container
  • Use a mobile yard ramp


  • Use a crane
  • Use a heavy forklift, reach stacker or mini straddle
  • Use a swing lift or side loader
  • Use a vertical container lift or C-Lift
  • Use a fixed C-Lift in place of a dock


A New Approach to Load/Unload Container Ships

Locks have been used forever in canals to raise and lower entire ships.  Easy to do … they float!

What if you don’t use a container crane at all?   What if the ship pulls into the lock, and you are able to pull a gantry crane right over the top of the entire ship?  The biggest gantry crane in the world will lift 20,000 tons, 45 ton containers are mere childs’ play for a gantry.  But the limiting factor of a container crane is one hoist and one lift at a time.  Except for space, there are no limits to how many hoists you can put on a gantry.

Now imagine four hoists on your gantry with two hoists working each side of the ship.   While two are unloading off one side of the ship, the other two are picking 2 more containers off the ship.   And because you have lowered the ship, the cycle time of each lift is reduced.    One gantry crane has just replaced four container cranes, and is still able to do the job faster because of faster cycle times.

Trying to make faster and bigger container cranes can result in incremental efficiencies.   Bigger improvements in productivity usually require a different approach.   This approach has never been tried, and the author doesn’t have the cost equations to verify the possibilities.

Building a lock is more expensive, but you already have to build a deep sea port, so the cost of the lock would be incremental.  I invite readers with more information to study the proposal, and perhaps trigger some ideas that would cause a leap forward in port efficiency.


What is a live unload?

A live unload is a type of trucking delivery, meaning that the warehouse will unload the container while the driver waits on site. After the container is unloaded, the trucker will return the empty container to the container yard at the port.

When should a live unload be arranged?

A live unload is ideal if the cargo can be unloaded within two hours, because most drivers will allow for 1-2 free hours of waiting while the cargo is being unloaded. After the free time expires, truckers will begin to charge for additional time on a prorated hourly rate, which is reflected on your Flexport quote or invoice as a trucking wait fee.

If your cargo is palletized and the warehouse has a forklift to quickly move all the pallets into the warehouse, a live unload will be more cost- and time-efficient. If the cargo can’t be unloaded quickly, the trucker may need to do a drop.