Man standing in an empty shipping container

Shipping containers have been used for the transport and freight of all kinds of trades goods for decades. In recent times, however, they’ve become increasingly used for storage by both organisations and individuals across New Zealand and abroad.

We thought we’d showcase just some of the ways shipping containers are being used for storage purposes that might even inspire you to do the same.

Business documents

Any business owner will know just how much documentation is required to keep the administrative and regulatory cogs of an operation compliant and functioning. In short, it can be immense and documents like tax records, need to be retained for at least 7 years. Even for small businesses this amount of documentation can quickly stack up and for medium-large sized organisations – the storage of these documents becomes an issue that needs addressing.

Shipping containers have become great storage solutions for documentation for organisations allowing them to keep documents onsite but out of the way. This relieves pressure on storage space within an office space and with lockboxes easily fitted, it is often a much more secure option too.

Farming equipment

With agriculture being the biggest industry in New Zealand (representing around 70% of New Zealand’s exports) it’s no surprise that farms across the country have become big users of shipping containers as storage solutions. The amount of farming equipment required to manage a farm in this day and age is a lot more than you might expect. Tractors, farm trucks, wagons, mowers, scythes, rakes, mulchers, cultivators, balers – the list goes on.

While much of this can be stored in the barn/shed of a farm the increasing demands on storage, especially with new forms of equipment and machinery being introduced means that many have turned to shipping containers for back-up storage. Not only is it a much more cost-effective solution compared to building a new shed but it’s a flexible one too given the transportable nature of shipping containers.

Food and drink

One solution that might not immediately come to mind when it comes to shipping container storage is food and drink but with Reefer containers, in particular, it is definitely an option that can be utilised. Reefer containers are essentially refrigerated containers that are also insulated allowing for controlled temperature environments to be established and maintained, making it ideal for perishable goods.
Supermarkets have used refrigerated containers to help manage supply issues and restaurants have also found them useful during peak times when regular storage doesn’t suffice. For individuals, this option is less common though we have seen some creative uses like that of temporary wine cellars where temperature control is a great benefit.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Refrigeration industry (@refindustry) on

Furniture and household items

Whenever you move into a new home, it doesn’t take long before you start to use most of the space between the four walls of your comfortable abode. After a few years, you often replace or upgrade bits of furniture and then have to think about what to do with the old ones. For a variety of reasons, you won’t necessarily want to dispose of these things completely so storage is the way to go.

Shipping containers can be a great choice here as they’ll allow you to free up space inside your home, keeping it as clutter-free as possible. If you get one that is water/weather tight and one with vents or whirlybirds you’ll also avoid any worries about mould and mildew damage. Many people also use shipping containers to move house too which is fast becoming a popular service around the country.

Gardening equipment

Gardening is a great joy for many New Zealanders as a way to relax, unwind and get close to nature. While many homes have garden sheds, if you have a large garden then the shed you have may not be large enough for your needs.

Shipping containers are again a great storage option here, especially those fitted with double doors which make access a breeze. Many people also opt for the 10 ft shipping container for this purpose given they don’t need as much space offered by a standard 20 ft container. Another option people consider is to modify the shipping container and create a proper garden shed with doors, windows, shelving and sometimes even electrics too.

Hazardous Goods and Chemicals

A specialised niche also exists in terms of container storage with respect to hazardous goods and chemicals, used by a variety of industries. These can include the storage of things like paints, thinners, Class 3 flammables, oils, petroleum etc.

There are specific shipping containers you can get for the transport and storage of such materials called Dangerous Goods Containers which have specialised features that are required to be compliant. These include bunded floors, discharge valves for spillages, large vents for airflow and easy to open doors. Whatever your requirements, we can give you specific advice to meet your needs.

Vehicles

Kiwis love their cars and own a lot of them with among the highest rates of vehicle ownership per capita in the world. With space in a typical double garage or carport quickly used by your everyday domestic vehicles, people often need to look elsewhere for ways to store their sports/speciality/vintage cars.

Shipping containers are great options for these as a standard one can fit one or sometimes two cars at any one time. With ramps fitted at the front of the shipping container (preferably weather tight with vents), you can easily drive them in and out whenever you need. Again, it’s a great, cost-effective solution that allows you to keep your beloved cars close and accessible.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Wm O’Brien Self Storage Cork (@selfstoragecork) on

Some great ways to use your shipping container for storage

As you can see, there are some great ways you can use a standard or specialised shipping container for storage. Whether you’re an individual or an owner of a business (small or industrial) they can offer quick, easy and accessible storage solutions for your needs.

paints

If you’ve recently become the proud owner of a brand new shipping container it’ll probably be in your interests to do what you can to make sure it lasts as long as it can. Don’t get us wrong, shipping containers are naturally strong, tough and durable, but there are definitely a few additional steps you can take to stretch its lifespan to the max.

Coat of paint

One of the easiest ways to increase the lifespan of your shipping container is to give it a coat of paint. You can do this yourself, of course, but a lot of shipping container companies can do this for you using the most suitable paint while saving you the time, hassle and effort.

The new coat of paint will not only look great but will add water and corrosion-resistant properties to your shipping container. As you’ll probably know, rust is one of the biggest threats when it comes to the overall lifespan of a container but a good coat of paint that’s maintained over time will keep a protective layer against the elements.

A good opportunity with paint also comes in the form of branding too if the container is being used as part of a business.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by John Dominé (@johndomine1) on

Look after your roof

A shipping container is a bit like a house in that it’s only as good as the roof above it. Looking after the roof of your shipping container is therefore just as important.

While you always see shipping containers stacked one on top of another in ports around the world, it’s important to remember that it’s the reinforced corner castings of the shipping container that gives it its strength to withstand these weights. The roofs themselves are not made to support weight and will flex even when walked across.

Container roofs are also flat so they are prone to collecting pools of water, ice, leaves and other debris from their environments. It’s important to clear these off as regularly as possible again to prevent rust and leaks.

Mount your container

Mounting your container on planks, bricks, piles or some other foundation might not seem the most obvious thing to do but it can certainly be something to prolong its lifespan.

The main situation for doing this would be if your shipping container would otherwise be placed directly onto the earth, particularly areas that become easily damp and/or boggy. Without a gap below the shipping container, moisture can easily get trapped which can lead to corrosion in the flooring.

A container on the ground is also susceptible to unexpected flooding which can penetrate the container and cause damage internally as well. The only thing to be mindful of when attempting to mount your container is to do so properly, usually with the help of your container company. If the mounts are uneven, you’ll potentially compromise its structural integrity over time.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Montara (@montara.arqeng) on

Regular lubrication

To get the most out of your shipping container, every part of it requires and deserves your care and attention. The hinges, locking bar brackets, locking bar guides, cam retainers and handles – all of which are found on your shipping container doors, need to be well looked after.

Keeping them well lubricated and greased will give them anti-moisture, anti-corrosion protection and keep them from getting stiff. When joints become stiff, more effort is required to use them and with greater force applied, damage can also be inadvertently inflicted.

Your container doors will probably be the most used part of your shipping container so be sure not to overlook this step as if you lose your doors, the usefulness of your container becomes that much less.

Security

Security may seem a strange thing to include in a discussion about container lifespan but it’s definitely a factor to be considered right from the outset.

Shipping containers are used, primarily for storage, in fixed placements or in transport. Often, the goods inside are of some value and nefarious types may be inclined to break into them, causing damage to the container itself.

A solid lockbox is a great deterrent to stop this from happening. They can be easily installed on any container door and prevent bolt cutters from reaching into your padlock. It’s a really easy step to follow and one that has no negative consequences.

Vents

Last but not least we’ve mentioned things that can damage your container from the outside but you should also think about what can happen from the inside too.

Moisture build-up from within a container is definitely a cause for concern, especially in climates where humidity is a factor and those where the difference in temperatures between daytime and nighttime are extreme. Moisture from within not only leads to corrosion in the same way it does from the outside but will also potentially damage your goods by mould and mildew.

Vents and whirlybirds will encourage and regulate the airflow and temperature inside your container. Whirlybirds are particularly good at providing an escape route for hot air within, while at the same time bringing cool air in which is exactly what needs to happen to keep it moisture free.

Make sure your container lasts as long as it should!

As you can see, there are some easy tips to follow to ensure your shipping container has the lifespan it should. You might not need to follow every single one of them depending on your situation but the more you do, the more likely you’ll be to have a container that goes the distance.