Auto Shipping Via Closed Container

by Tom Kearns

Most experts in the field of auto shipping will have a preference for the open carrier method because of the ease of loading and unloading vehicles. Within the space of two hours, somewhere around 33 carriers can be loaded to maximum capacity. Contrast this with the closed container method where only one car may be loaded and lifted on to the carrier in the same time frame. The closed container operations require special heavy-duty equipment at both the loading and unloading sites. A standard container terminal is not equipped to deal with cars and a special area apart from the central terminal must be allocated for the process of loading and unloading as well as storage, including storage for the essential equipment. This separate area must be secured more thoroughly than the main terminal. The carriers themselves can handle roughly half the number of vehicles as an open carrier.

The safety of a car in a container depends primarily on how well it is secured inside and on how professionally the vehicle is handled by the special loading-unloading equipment. If the container is not tailor-made for car transportation or the specific car brand, the process of securing it inside is rather complicated. In any case, it takes a lot of special wedging, tying, and supporting to secure a car in a container. Damage may occur if in the initial process mistakes are made which may remain undiscovered until the car reaches it destination and is unloaded.

On the other hand, in an open carrier damage results from unauthorized access to the cars, easier with open carriers. Vandalism is not an implausible outcome and with open carriers perpetrators do not have to get near the platforms: in some peculiar cases cars have been known to suffer from hunting-rifle fire - sometimes a sport accident, sometimes unsportsmanlike sport. Unauthorized access to closed container interiors is possible but is more difficult.

Crossing a border into a foreign country is difficult if not impossible for long open-carrier trains. Not every country has the same technology and equipment to handle the situation, and when they do, the varying documentation mandated from country to country may cause shipping delays. If long trains are loaded from manufacturing plants deep within foreign lands, when they reach the border of another country, the vehicles will have to be unloaded from the existing truck and loaded onto carriers capable of their transport on the other side of the border. This process opens up the vehicles to damage and theft. Again, the shipment is delayed.

Trans-Pack is an innovative technological advancement meant to solve such problems. This invention is not available everywhere, however. Not all countries offer closed container shipping to any degree.

Trans-Rack makes possible to increase the number of cars loaded into closed containers and reduces transportation costs by about 25%. The system ensures damage-free loading and unloading. It is, moreover, well secured against accidents: special experiments had Trans-Rack containers dropped from 5-meter heights, which resulted in damage to the containers but not to the property inside. Loading-unloading time is much shorter: 30 minutes for a single full container. Standardized systems for securing the car increase safety and reduce costs.

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