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Can You Move a Loaded Steel Storage Container Rental, Like PODS Containers?

We have many customers who want to use their storage container rental to move, but unfortunately, unless you have a crane to load and unload the container on each end using a steel storage container rental for moving isn’t really the best idea. It’s a common misconception to think that used shipping containers are simple to move, but unless you’re set up to properly load and unload the container with a top lift or crane then it’s not so simple.

shipping container on lift icon

Handling Loaded Containers Requires a Crane or Heavy-Duty Forklift

All of our storage containers come from used shipping containers, which are meant to be used to transport goods, so you’d think it might be easy to continue using them that way to move, but it’s not. Containers are usually loaded and unloaded from ships using massive cranes, or inland rail hubs using large top-lifts. Since a container can be loaded with over 40,000-pounds of cargo, loading, and unloading requires a sizable lift or crane. Only specific types of lifts work with all containers, because 40ft containers usually don’t come with forklift pockets and need to be handled using the corner castings on top of the container.

We deliver all of our storage container rentals using tilt bed trailers, and those trailers have a mechanical winch that we use to pull the container back onto the trailer when the unit is called off rent. Since the empty container can already weigh up to 9,000-pounds, loading it can quickly make it too heavy to be pulled onto the trailer with a winch. Additionally, if a container is loaded unevenly, it can be dangerous to winch onto the trailer and could fall off during loading or be unpredictable during unloading.

How Do PODS Move Loaded Containers without a Crane?

PODS offers containers for moving and storage that they will relocate after the container has been loaded. The way PODS makes this work without using cranes is custom-built smaller containers (most commonly in 12ft and 16ft sizes) that are made using lighter materials than shipping containers. The smaller size of PODS containers also means they can’t carry as much cargo as a standard shipping container and are somewhat self-limiting from a loaded weight perspective.

PODS uses a specially designed delivery and pick-up device called the “Podzilla” that is equipped on each of its delivery trucks. The Podzilla lift device has four wheels and is slightly wider than one of its containers. It uses chains through the forklift pockets of the PODS container to lift it off the ground even while loaded and put it onto the delivery truck.

If you’re looking for moving and storage options, PODS tends to be a better option than using a steel storage container rental. PODS also offers storage inside of climate-controlled warehouses if that’s something you need as part of your move.

Different Sizes of PODS Storage Containers Versus Steel Storage Containers

While PODS uses specially designed containers to be smaller and lighter, Western Container Sales uses decommissioned steel shipping containers for our storage container rental fleet.

red pods logo

PODS Container Sizes

8ft x 8ft
8ft x 12ft
8ft x 16ft
western container sales logomark

Western Container Sizes

8ft x 10ft
8ft x 20ft
8ft x 40ft

The larger container sizes we offer are more difficult to move while loaded than the PODS containers are. Without the proper equipment to handle a 40ft high cube on each end of your move it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to try to use it instead of a smaller container from PODS.

Can Steel Shipping Containers Still Be Moved While Loaded if The Customer Handles the Shipping?

Unfortunately, we don’t allow for our storge container rentals to be moved by the customer, whether they are loaded or not. The containers we use for our rental fleet are still in great shape for storage but are no longer certified as cargo worthy for shipment. Even if a customer has the proper equipment to load and unload containers at each location, we still don’t allow for rental containers to be transported from their original delivery location.

If a customer wants to move a container while loaded, they’ll need to buy it because we don’t allow for storage container rentals to be transported. Even if a customer provides us with additional liability insurance, etc., we still do not allow for our storage containers to be moved while loaded like PODS.

Are Steel Storage Containers Still Useful for Moving?

While you can’t use a steel storage container to move, we’re still happy to provide one on either end of your move to help make the process go smoother. Many customers will have a container delivered to the location they’re moving to and use it to stage their move, or have their moving company load some items directly into the container so they can manage the move over a period of time. Containers are also a great way to move make up for lost storage space if you’re moving to a smaller home or office.

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