How Container Weight Restrictions Impact Your Business

How Container Weight Restrictions Impact Your Business

When using an ocean export container, the assumption often follows: “I paid for the space so I’m going to use it all!” We wish regulations were so lenient – unfortunately, it’s the responsibility of you, your company, and the vendors you utilize to observe maximum weight restriction on all ocean export containers. Furthermore, being mindful of the structural integrity of each container is important, as they become less safe when they exceed specified container weight restrictions, leaving them prone to breaking, caving in, collapsing containers underneath, tipping, or breaking machinery required to move the container. Keep in mind that out-of-gauge cargo is an entirely different story. With all of this considered, it becomes apparent that container weight restrictions aren’t so much of a guideline as it is a rule.

How Does This Impact My Business?

Maximum weights include not only the product being shipped, but all of the blocking and bracing, pallets, and dunnage that are inside of the shipping container. Any container that exceeds the maximum weight permitted will result, ultimately, in basic sadness – your container will be sitting at its port of origin waving goodbye to the vessel it was supposed to hop aboard.

When moving a container via truck to any destination, you must ensure that it adheres to the Bridge Law. This law was created to guarantee that the gross weight of a vehicle is evenly distributed across all its axles, thus preventing accidents caused by vehicle breakage, tipping, crashes, or product damage. Although container weight restrictions are one issue, be mindful of all potential negative outcomes you may encounter with FCL shipping.

The Most Common Container Weight Restrictions

Surfing the web to find all your options, their maximum container weight restrictions, and what the best option is can be a headache. Here is our quick guide to understanding all of your ocean exporting container options and their maximum weight restrictions. Make sure you understand that these container weight restrictions apply to ocean export containers from the port onto the vessel. If you are moving your containers from inland to the coast, keep in mind that there is a 44,200lbs weight restriction for the rail transport. That considered, here is a snapshot guide to the maximum container weight restrictions on all of your ocean export container options:

20’ Standard Container: 66,400lbs

40’ Standard Container: 63,400lbs

40’ High Cube Container: 63,400lbs

45’ High Cube Container: 61,000lbs

53’ High Cube Container: 46,000lbs

20’ Reefer Container: 45,500lbs

40’ High Cube Reefer Container: 54,000lbs

20’ Flat Rack: 92,800lbs

40’ Flat Rack: 108,350lbs

20’ Open Top Container: 66,200lbs

40’ Open Top Container: 62,700lbs

If you are exporting via a flat rack, the cargo must be in-gauge. If it is out-of-gauge, it is not allowed to be used for an ocean export. Also, if you plan on exporting via a flat rack, you must inquire to your carrier to receive prior approval, and if the weight of the cargo exceeds 80,000lbs, you will need a special permit. Also, if exploring other container options it’s important to remember that there are only two points in the U.S. where reefer containers are available. There isn’t enough steady demand for reefers containers, so they only allow them to move via rail from Kansas City to the West Coast or Chicago to the East Coast. Even more interesting is the fact that most containers moving from Kansas City to the West Coast are all frozen. This is due to these lanes being commonly used for transporting frozen meats.

The weights listed above are not concrete numbers but rather serve as general guidelines for the maximums on ocean export containers. Depending on the steamship line and the carrier you are working with, you may find the numbers to fluctuate slightly, but it is helpful to have a mental ballpark estimate at what will be possible for you and your company to move on each type of container.

If you have any questions about container weight restrictions or have questions about an upcoming large cargo project, reach out to us at Interlog USA, Inc. and we’d be happy to help.


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