Over the last 40 years container shipping has revolutionised the sea freight industry. This might not mean much to you, but every day we eat, touch or use something that has been transported in a container over the sea. It can all sound a bit industrial and out of your league, but container shipping is now accessible to everyone, not just big companies and manufacturers.
If you are moving abroad or coming back from overseas, the most cost effective way to get your items moved is by using container shipment companies. You don’t have to be moving household goods to need a container though, you might want to import a pallet load of goods made in China, or even export a car.
Here at Delivery Quote Compare, we make it easy for you to wade through the container shipping jargon to get best value quotes, saving you time, money and the headache of needing to be an expert on merchant shipping!
Getting quotes from container companies
Getting a quote for transporting your goods in a container couldn’t be easier as there are quite a number of shipping companies offering this service. All you need to know is how much stuff you need moving, where from, where to and when for. Once you’ve got this information, fill in our quote request form and your job details will then be visible to container shipping companies who are registered with us.
These companies will then be able to work out a personalised quote for you, based on the information you’ve given. You can then enter into a dialogue with them about your container shipment to make sure all parties are clear on what the work entails. You can also check out their company profile on our website and read reviews from previous customers.
How container shipping costs vary
The cost of transporting goods by container ship will vary enormously depending on where you want goods delivering to, how quickly and, most importantly, the volume of goods you want moving in relation to the size of the shipping container.
Container sizes are standardised around the world, with the most common being 8ft wide x 8ft high x 20ft long. You might see container shipping companies refer to TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units), which is the industry standard way of describing volume.
Other container sizes include 2.5m wide ones to take European pallets, hi-cube containers that are 9ft6” or 10ft6” and Australian RACE containers that are designed to take their standard pallet size. There are also refrigerated containers, insulated containers, ventilated containers and even top loading containers for easy loading of heavy goods.
In essence, the price you will pay will depend firstly on whether you need a container to yourself (FCL or full container load) or part of a container (LCL or less than container load). If you only have a part load and you can wait until you can be matched with another shipment going to the same port, you will get a very competitive quote, as your items will be making up the capacity of a container.
This is where our website comes into its own. Rather than trawling around trying to find a company with another part container load going where you want your goods to go, your shipment details will be posted up on our website and read by hundreds of container shipping companies and their agents wanting to fill loads.
The essentials of shipping by container
The main thing you need to know about container shipping is that the companies and the people who organise the containers are the experts and they will help you. Don’t get bogged down in trying to work out which size container you need, just try and be as accurate as possible with your list of goods to be moved.
By way of example, the contents of a one to two bedroom house will probably fit in the standard 8ftx8ftx20ft dry container, or one car and a few boxes. A two to three bedroom house will probably need a longer, 40ft container.
What happens when your goods are transported by ship
If you’re wondering just what the process is for getting goods transported by container ship, we’ve put together a simple step-by-step guide to a typical container shipping scenario:
1. Once you’ve accepted a quote, organise when and how your goods will be loaded. If you’ve got a part load only, the most cost effective way is for you to take the goods to the container port. The shipping agent can also arrange collection and transport for you. If you’ve got a full container load, the empty container will be delivered to you and the driver will either wait whilst you load, or drop the container off and pick it up later.
2. Packing for your full container – packing your goods to be transported by container ship is just the same as for any move, so all the common sense tips apply, such as using clean, strong boxes, newspaper, bubble wrap and sealing cartons with parcel tape. Make sure you keep an inventory as you pack. Furniture and valuable goods may need to be crated up for protection. If you’re putting a vehicle into the container, make sure it is secure, with no more than 1/8th of a tank of fuel and the battery is disconnected.
3. Getting your goods ready for a part container load – your goods will most likely be collated together onto a pallet and shrink wrapped at the container terminal before being loaded into the container, so make sure they are well packed and labelled.
4. Loading the container onto the ship – once all the paperwork has been completed and the loads secured inside the container, it will be closed, locked and sealed, meaning your goods are safe. A crane on the port or on the boat will literally pick up the container and load it into the container ship. As all the containers are standardised, they stack together easily and will be secured together.
5. Setting sail – when the vessel is full, your container may well be one of literally thousands onboard. However, each one has a unique ISO 6346 code that will identify your container, as will the barcode, which will be used to trace the shipment. Expect a journey to another continent to take a few weeks.
6. Arriving in port – once the boat and your container has reached its destination, you will be contacted by the agent. Depending on what level of service you have agreed, you may need to head to the port to sort customs clearance, or it might be included in the quote. Then if you have a full container load, it will be loaded on to another form of transport (usually a trailer truck) to then be delivered to your door. If you have a part load container, the goods may be unloaded at the container port ready for re-distribution or for you to collect.
Container shipping – what it’s all about
Container shipping is really quite clever. Ever since 1956 when an impatient lorry driver who got sick of waiting around whilst the goods he was transporting were unloaded one by one had the idea of the container, the world has changed.
Container shipping revolutionised the transport of goods and accelerated globalisation, which is really quite mad, when you think a container is just a corrugated metal box. Without getting all techy, containerisation works because it facilitates intermodal freight transport.
What that all means is that a container can be transported on the back of a trailer or on a train directly to the container port where it is loaded straight onto the waiting container ship. No need for unloading pallets, boxes, barrels or cartons one by one, to then be re-loaded individually onto the vessel. This alone saves a huge amount of time. When it once took weeks or even months to unload a shipload of cargo, it now takes hours or just a few days.
All in all container shipping means getting goods being transported around the world is now faster, more efficient, less exposed to breakage or ‘shrinkage’ and much cheaper. And with container shipping companies now maximising their capacity by quoting for jobs on Delivery Quote Compare, everyone can now access container shipping services and save money too.