An intermodal container is a portable storage box compatible with travelling on various modes of transport. These include railways, ships, low-bed road transporters, and even cargo aircraft. They usually shift between different transportation modes via container depots. Hence, they also need to be compatible with lifting and moving gear in these facilities.

This flexibility requires a degree of standardisation virtually unrivalled in any other industry. Standard 6-meter and 12-meter intermodal containers can be stacked many times high on ships and in container handling yards. This makes them arguably the densest storage facility anywhere.

Intermodal Container History: Longer Than You Thought

People have been carting luggage securely in suitcases and boxes for ages. From the 1830s onwards railways were carrying simple containers that loaded onto horse-drawn carts using cranes. These were simple, rectangular timber boxes ideal for transporting bulk materials especially coal.

The military was already using container solutions for transporting weaponry by the time WW2 erupted. However, intermodal container standardization really only took off in 1951, when the U.S. and European nations met in Switzerland to consider the possibilities of standardized container transport.

This meeting led to the introduction of ‘roller containers’ in various configurations capable of loading on rail, truck or ship. Various innovations followed in quick succession. These new developments included corrugated steel containers with skids and lifting rings, stackable versions, and lighter-weight materials.

Full Standardisation Arrives in 1972

By the early 1970s shipping containers were travelling globally, although to the frustration of operators there were still various versions. Finally, the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization intervened with a global standard for the safe transport and handling of what became known as the universal intermodal container.

This regulation required that every shipping container have an approved ‘safety plate’ recording age, registration number, dimensions and weights, as well as its strength and maximum stacking capability. There was considerable resistance from traditional dock workers although eventually, sheer logic had its day.

The Second Life of Intermodal Shipping Containers

The stresses and strains associated with an intermodal container stacked ten times high are immense. Rigid safety standards condemn these storage boxes long before they are actually worn out. We saw the opportunity to recycle them for other, creative purposes.

The Almar Container Group supplies standard and purpose-adapted intermodal containers for beneficial reuse in Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, and Dubai. Tell us what you need, and we’ll make it happen soon. We have applications for training rooms, ablution facilities, temporary offices, permanent homes and so much more.

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We should ask about the goods and services we purchase. Especially since there is so much information on the internet, although it may not all be true. If you had the time and patience, you could probably figure out the container business yourself. However, a container agent with a finger on the pulse could simplify things for you.

Not All Storage Units are the Same – Our Container Agent Explains

The container industry is imperfectly regulated space. There are standards, but there is nothing preventing you making your own containers. Nothing that is, until you have an insurance claim returned with a rejection letter.

So what are the standards you have to meet - unless you employ a container agent to represent your interests?

What a Container Agent Can Learn from This Information

The International Container Bureau is a registry for intermodal shipping containers. It founded in 1933 to set mandatory parameters for cranes, conveyors and other lifting gear. These factors include.

A container agent uses the information referenced in ISO 346 to verify information regarding a particular container, and current owner. In this regard it’s important to note the insurance angle. Shipping and all risks insurers may base their rates on the information on the ISO 346 register.

How Do I Know Whether a Particular Container Is Right for Me?

Our container agent can help you right-size and type a container whether for shipping, or storage. Or for one of the alternative conversions that are proving increasingly popular. The sky really is the limit for these incredibly versatile devices.

We can help you select and ship your containerised solution to Saudi Arabia, Dubai, South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania, or Uganda. Please contact us as soon as you are ready to start your next project.

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With a rising interest in converted shipping containers, there has been a drastic increase in container fraud and bogus operators, particularly in South Africa. Many people go online to see what the shipping container cost will be. They find a website that features what appear to be brand spanking new containers at exceptionally low prices and decide to buy.

Like phishing, which entails fraudsters purporting to be from reputable companies inducing people to reveal banking and other details, container fraud relies on people’s trust and is virtually impossible to track down.

In addition, this is largely a cash industry, so people are expected to pay the shipping container cost before it is delivered. Because containers are generally sold in large volumes from working depots, inspections are difficult. Also, entry barriers for newcomers to the industry are very low; all that is needed is a website and a phone number of some sort and you can start buying and selling containers.

So how does container fraud happen?

Modus Operandi to Make People Buy Shipping Container Online

Shopping online today is easy – sometimes too easy. Whether you are looking for a frying pan, a new outfit, or converted shipping containers, you are likely to find a website that offers exactly what you want. While there are many reputable online stores, it is so easy to create a website and sell items online, it is often difficult to identify those that have been set up to swindle us.

This is how easy a fraudulent operation can be to set up and manage.

This makes it very difficult to track down fraudsters and virtually impossible to hold them accountable. But there are some warning flags to look out for when you buy shipping container units.

Top Tips to Avoid Container Fraud

  1. Shop around to see what companies in general are charging for shipping containers (or converted shipping containers if this is what you are looking for). If you find a source that is offering containers at a price that seems to be too good to be true, it often is!
  2. Ensure other customers are happy with their service, but don’t rely on their website references or testimonials as these are easy to fabricate. Google+ and Facebook referrals are often more reliable, but it’s always a good idea to try and make direct contact with several customers to verify their authenticity.
  3. Ideally you should meet the seller in person before committing yourself to the deal. You should also insist of inspecting the container prior to payment. Don’t be bullied into the sale by claims that this is the last container at this price, or anything similar.
  4. If you phone the person (and you should), if the seller has a distinctly foreign accent, this might be an alarm bell. Some fraudsters operate from other countries, having no intention of delivering the shipping containers they offer for sale. This also makes it impossible to inspect the container and meet the seller.
  5. If there isn’t a landline number on the website, this could be a sign that the company has no physical presence. This should be another alarm bell.
  6. If there is a physical address on the website, don’t take it for granted that it is genuine. Rather check on Google Maps to make sure it really is a valid address.
  7. Check the creation date of the website domain using a domain search website like Who Is If the website was created in recent months, this too should be an alarm bell. Beware!
  8. If you are asked to confirm which bank account you are going to use for payment, don’t provide this information other than possibly stating which financial institution you use. Chances are they are buying time while waiting to open up a suitable bank account to be able to get your payment.

Only Deal With Reliable Suppliers

Almar Container Group has been a reliable supplier of used steel shipping containers for more than 30 years. If you have any questions regarding the validity of a quote for containers for sale or containers for rent, or even if you want a reference for an alternative container supplier, please contact us as we will be able to provide an honest and objective opinion and provide correction information.

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Known as intermodal containers, the standard steel boxes used for mobile storage across land and sea are made according to strict specifications established by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) that develops and publishes international standards for just about everything. These shipping container design standards cover everything from size to the quality of steel used for construction, as well as the allowed gross weight of the ISO container.

Standards for an ISO Container

There are a number of different standards that specify standards for shipping container design. While the vast majority of containers are categorized for general purpose use, there are separate standards for reefers – an insulated shipping container that is also refrigerated – and other even more specialised units.

All ISO standards are available for purchase and they cannot be accessed unless paid for, although there are some “informative sections” of the ISO standards that are available publicly. These include the accepted definition of an ISO container and of a freight container.

  1. A freight container is intended for permanent and repeated use and should be designed specifically to facilitate transportation of goods. It should also be fitted with devices that will make it easy to handle and to transfer from one type of transportation to another. Freight containers that meet ISO specifications should be both easy to fill and empty and they should have an internal volume of at least one cubic meter.
  2. An ISO container is a type of freight container that meets the relevant ISO container standards.

In addition, there are freely available definitions for both container structures and components.

These are some of the more important standards that relate to any ISO container used for shipping:

In addition, there are several standards that cover the specification and testing of:

There is also a standard, ISO 3874: 1997, that covers handling and securing of containers that are generally used for mobile storage.

Buy or Rent an ISO Container From Almar

Almar sells and rents out both new and used shipping containers in the Middle East, South Africa and East Africa. All our containers are made to ISO standards. Contact us for details.

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Steel containers for shipping are manufactured in a small number of standard sizes for certain specific purposes. While standard sizes for these ubiquitous mobile containers range from 10ft to 45ft, the most commonly used sizes are the 20ft container and the 40ft container.

The ISO standards specify the overall dimensions of steel containers as well minimum internal dimensions and the size of door openings. The sizes of any general purpose (GP) 20ft and 40ft container should be:

Both the 20ft and 40ft container are also available as high cube (HC) GP containers. These are the same length as ordinary GP steel containers but they are higher. Both the 20HC and 40HC mobile containers are 9 feet 6 inches (2.896 m) high.

Why Choose a 40ft Container?

Generally, 40-foot dry freight, GP shipping containers are made completely of welded steel except for the floors which are usually made of load-bearing marine-grade plywood, although some do have steel floors. The thick, steel double doors at one end (like those of 20-foot dry freight mobile containers) are weather-sealed and absolutely secure. The mobile containers themselves are freestanding and totally self-contained, and may be used for shipping, for storage, and converted shipping containers can even be used for accommodation.

GP mobile containers are used for dry freight of all kinds, from rocks to food, clothing, and even vehicles. Obviously, you will choose a container that provides sufficient space (in terms of volume) for the goods you need to transport, and a 40ft container has double the capacity to a 20ft container. But another element that must be considered is payload. This is generally 20 tons. If mobile containers are overloaded in terms of their carrying capacity (measured in weight) that provides revenue for the carrier, there will be a “heavy weight surcharge”.

For this reason, 20-foot containers are commonly used to carry heavy goods, like iron ore or rock, while a larger 40ft container, with the same payload, will be used to transport lighter products. And of course, you will be able to squeeze even more into a 40ft high cube container. These are the largest size steel containers currently used by shipping lines on a routine basis.

Almar has storage and dry freight and mobile containers as well as converted containers. Contact us for container rental prices.

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Stackable shipping containers have been used to transport cargo for more than half a century, and nothing much has changed in terms of their construction. Most are made of corrugated steel and incorporate floors made from strong planking or plywood. But while steel is not the only material used for shipping containers, steel containers are the most common type for various reasons including security, mobility, accessibility, and lifespan.

Since 1969, steel containers have been standardised in terms of the material used for construction and their size, as well as the patented design of the corner posts incorporated in the design of these mobile containers.

Standardization of steel containers used for overland and ocean shipping is in accordance with the Swiss-based International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) that develops and publishes international standards on just about everything.

ISO Standards for Steel Containers

ISO standards specify the type of steel containers should be made from. Essentially, it is a “weathering steel” that is resistant to corrosion and commonly referred to as Cor-ten steel. It is the same type of steel used in the many industries that utilize steel sections like bridges, facades and building panels that are left exposed to the elements.

When it comes to size, ISO standards specify both the internal and external dimensions of steel containers, which is why standard size lengths are the same worldwide, the most common being 10 ft, 20 ft, and 40 ft. Most are 8 ft wide, and the height of steel containers ranges from 4 ft to 9 ft 6 ins though most are 8 ft 6 ins high.

But containers aren’t only made from steel, some are made from aluminium and sometimes stainless steel too – usually a combination of the two metals.

Mobile Containers Made of Aluminium

Significantly different to steel containers, shipping containers are also made from aluminium according to ISO specifications.

For some years, both steel and aluminium were used for mobile containers that would carry dry cargo. But steel was stronger and therefore became the preferred material. At the same time, because refrigerated products are generally a lot lighter than dry cargo, a combination of aluminium and stainless steel continued to be used for refrigerated shipping containers. Generally, the walls of these aluminium containers are considerably thinner than those of steel containers, and their thermal insulation is increased by the use of other materials on the inside of their walls.

Steel containers and those made of aluminium cannot be used interchangeably. Apart from anything else, the latter isn’t constructed for stacking, and they are generally used domestically, within countries of origin, rather than for shipping cargo across the sea or across continents.

Of course, refrigerated containers aren’t only made of aluminium. Today reefers (the term for refrigerated containers) are commonly made from steel.

Steel Containers from Almar

Almar Container group specialises in steel shipping containers and has the full range of sizes. Our mobile containers are suitable for dry and refrigerated freight, depending on your needs. They may also be used for storage. Contact us to discuss your needs. We are ready to help.

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