Loading a shipping container for long-distance transport can seem intimidating. There’s no denying it’s a big job, so the better you plan, the easier it will be and the likelier you are to make the most of your precious container space. Begin by making a list of what you want to get into the container and if you aren’t sure if everything will fit, prioritize it. As a rule of thumb, a regular 20ft shipping container is enough for moving most household’s contents.
Think in Three Dimensions
You have much more than the length and breadth of the container available, you also have its height. If school math classes are part of a dimly remembered past, knowing how to calculate cubic feet isn’t really necessary. There’s always an online calculator to make life easy and getting the right answer is more important than it has ever been before.
Figure out how much space your larger items will need first. Then look at the volume of smaller items and tot up the total to see whether you have enough space. If your total is a little lower than the container’s volume, you should be able to fit all or most of your items in. If you can’t, then it’s time to start thinking about storage, either with friends or at a storage facility.
Stack it Up With Heaviest Items At the Bottom
Once you’ve determined the volume and dimensions of bigger items, you can start sketching out a layout. Place heavy items at the bottom and think about how you can stack smaller ones on top of them without risking damage. Consider weight distribution and try to keep both sides of the container balanced. Packing materials can help to protect items, but you may need to invest in strong crates to protect smaller items.
Plan to Get a Snug Fit
Plan so that the contents of the container fits snugly against the walls and top and use packing materials or soft items as fillers if necessary. You’ll also see tie-off points inside the container. You will use rope to secure stacked items for extra protection. Loads can shift during handling, and you want to prevent breakages. Make sure you have rope handy for loading day as well as bubble wrap, old blankets, pieces of cardboard, and anything else that you can use between layers and adjacent items to prevent them from chafing against each other.
Decide Where to Place the Container for Loading
When choosing a spot for your container to stand during loading, you need more than just a place near your house’s entrance where it can fit. There must be room for the truck that delivers it, the ground should be level, and not so soft that the container sinks into the ground. A paved area is best, but there are alternatives if you don’t have a convenient one. If the nearest suitable place is rather far from your home itself, you can plan accordingly – for better than getting a nasty surprise on moving day!
Keep Calm and Keep Packing
The final thing you should prepare for when loading a shipping container is surprises. No matter how good you thought your packing plan was, you may need to adjust it on the day. Don’t let that faze you. If you have to adapt, then think things through as well as you can, and go ahead with the changes. Even if you have to adapt it, your plan reduces your stress on the day and helps you to avoid common mistakes. A few tweaks won’t be a biggie, so keep calm and keep packing!