Every day, we move hundreds of containers in and out of our yards. We watch them come in, we unload them and then load them again later for transport to a happy customer. As you can probably imagine, these containers are not light, a standard 20ft container weights about 4,800lbs and the 40ft high cubes weight a little more than 8,500lbs.

To be able to load and unload shipping containers with little effort and time, we rely heavily on our container handlers. Their design features a low point of gravity to support the weight of shipping containers of any size and they weight somewhere around 20,000lbs for stability. This makes it possible for us to stack shipping containers five high and the advanced technology behind it makes it easy to make more precise movements than conventional forklifts.

The handlers have expandable arms that can lift a 20ft container at their narrowest and can widen up to 40’ for 40ft containers. Because shipping containers larger than 40 feet have corner castings at the 40ft mark and then additional castings at their other sides, it is possible for our handlers to lift 45’, 53’ and even larger containers. To lock into container corner castings, the Hyster has sensors that automatically detect its placement inside one and locks in. When the container is placed where it needs to be, it has to be manually unlocked, as a safety feature.

Here are some of the other features we want to mention:

– The handlers have a 6.7L diesel engine and a transmission that allows precise movements forward and backward. This allows precise placement of shipping containers, especially needed when we’re stacking containers five high.

– Telescopic arms extend 20’ to 40’ with vertical twist lock sensors that automatically lock in to container corner castings; it also has side shift and forward and backward tilt abilities to adjust for different height truck trailers and uneven driving surfaces

– A comfortable operator’s cab with air conditioning and a comfortable chair, a dashboard with all the settings easily within reach

You might ask, what do we do about our smaller, 8ft, 9ft and 10ft shipping containers? Because we cannot make the handler arms narrower than 20ft, we can’t use our Hyster to move small containers. Instead, we use a conventional forklift to load, unload and move these around. We can still stack these two high if we needed and the forklifts as easy to use as the larger Hyster.

It doesn’t take a long time to learn to use these pieces of equipment, but we rely strictly on certified personnel on our teams for their safe operation.