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New and Used Shipping Containers – What’s the Difference?

29.04.2013 - Posted by Updated On 29.04.2013    

Over the course of a week we take a lot of questions similar to, "which is better, a new or used shipping container?"  Well, the answer isn’t always obvious, and it really depends on what you intend to use the shipping container for.  Many people are under the impression that new and used shipping containers are the same, except for age and condition; however, there are differences between new and used containers.  If you’d like to the bottom we’ve included an easy reference chart outlining the differences between new and used shipping containers.

Paint/Markings

New shipping container tend to be painted in a solid color, either tan or white; while used shipping containers are sometimes a solid color, but many times are painted to match a shipping lines corporate identity.

 

used shipping container

 

Container Condition

New shipping containers, as you would expect, have only been used one time and typically have no damage to them.  The condition of a used container can vary with age, usage, and sometimes the shipping line that’s managed it.  When referring to the condition of a used container it may be called one of the following:

  • New/One Trip:  This is a new container that has made a one trip – probably from China to the United States or Europe. 
  • Cargo Worthy (CW):  It may not be pretty, but it’s a solid shipping container that could still be used for shipping.
  • Wind and Water Tight (WWT):  It’s still in fair condition, but will no longer pass the rigorous testing required for international shipping.  If you are planning to use it for storage, at the very least this container will keep everything stored inside dry and out of the elements.
  • As Is, Where Is (AIWI):  A container in this condition has been labelled AIWI for one of two reasons:  1) It hasn’t been inspected or surveyed, so the shipping line can’t be sure of the condition that it’s in. 2) The container has been inspected, but it’s in pretty bad shape.  There may be some rust, the frame could be out of alignment, almost about anything could be wrong with this one.

Locking Gear

New, one trip containers typically come equipped with high locking gear, while used containers are commonly equipped with low locking gear.

  • High Locking Gear:  New containers are typically equipped with high locking gear for the convenience of the retail customer.  High locking gear means that the handles are waist height and you won’t need to bend over to open the doors. 
  • Low Locking Gear:  Most used containers are equipped with low locking gear, so that when the container is on the back of a chassis or truck the driver or dock worker won’t need a ladder to reach the handles and unlock the container. This also means that the end, retail buyer will need to bend over each time to open the container. 

Lock Box

Having a lock box is typically a feature that the retail buyer is concerned with.  A container lock box provides extra security in the form of a house around the lock, making it harder to cut the lock’s shank and open the container.  Used shipping containers aren’t typically equipped with a lock box because it’s a feature that will never be used in intermodal shipping.

Fork Lift Pockets

Fork lift pockets are nearly always on a new shipping container, and sometimes on a used container. While it’s obvious that new shipping containers will be moved around container yards and job sites and fork lift pockets will be really handy to use, used shipping containers are commonly moved by cranes and special lifts that pick up the container in different ways, so they don’t need the lift pockets.

  New Shipping Container Used Shipping Container
Paint/Markings Solid Solid or to match shipping line
Container Condition New Depends on Age
Locking Gear High locking gear Low locking gear
Lock Box Equipped Not Equipped
Fork Lift Pockets Equipped Possibly, not always

In our next article we’ll try and cover some of the basic scenarios when purchasing a container and provide a few "if/then" situations that are common when making the new or used container decision.

If you have any questions you’re always welcome to contact us.  No matter if you’re purchasing a container from one of our sellers or not, we’re happy to provide our professional insight and experience.



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