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An Introduction to Storage Containers: Common Uses and Industry Terminology

Just about every industry uses storage containers as a safe, secure, convenient solution to a variety of space issues. They offer a simple way to transport equipment, keep items safe on a jobsite, store records, and even make highly functional temporary offices. In residential settings, people use storage containers for a wide number of home projects.

Available in sizes from 10' to large enough to house heavy equipment, and with numerous extra features, including shelving and insulation, storage units are available to lease or own, depending on whether your need is temporary or permanent. Pricing varies widely, depending on size, special features, dealer, new vs. used, and even by geographic location.

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Using Storage Containers on Construction Sites

The construction industry may have the most obvious need for storage units. Much of the work takes place away from a central office, using large and expensive equipment and supplies that is often difficult or inconvenient to transport every day. The solution? Storage containers.

With so many sizes available, and with such a wide variety of styles and features, you find storage containers for anything your jobsite needs. Most vendors offer stackable storage containers to help make the most of limited storage space, as well as high cube units large enough to house heavy equipment such as forklifts. Quad door storage units let you easily access contents, even when materials fill the container.

Many construction companies also use storage containers to create a jobsite office, a place where employees can work or contractors can hold meetings with clients and subcontractors. This is an especially popular option for large and long-term construction projects.

Common storage container uses in construction include:

  • Storing job materials and building supplies
  • Storing construction tools and equipment
  • Creating temporary office space or field office
  • Creating a break room or changing area

Residential Storage Unit Applications

Residential uses for storage units typically revolve around quick, easy ways to safely store household items temporarily, though people sometimes use these containers to permanently store items normally held in a garden shed.

When performing renovations or remodeling your home, storage containers offer a convenient, safe way to keep belongings safe. Replacing flooring and painting are messy and require removing furnishings and décor from the room or rooms being renovated. Moving those items into a storage unit protects them from the elements while ensuring they remain easily accessible to you. At the same time, security features such as padlocks and steel lockboxes protect your belongings from thieves.

Many people are also turning to storage units as an easy way to move. Instead of packing all of your belongings into a moving truck and then driving across town or across the country, simply pack it all into a storage unit and let the vendor move your house for you. Again, the security features included with most containers helps repel criminals.

Another residential application is storing items when moving into a smaller home, or when you have a long-term guest, such as when an adult child returns home for an extended period. People also use storage pods seasonally, to create more room in the garage for vehicles during snowy and rainy months.

Common residential applications include:

  • Moving
  • Storing furnishings and décor during renovations and home repairs
  • Storing lawn equipment, such as tractors and lawnmowers
  • Storing recreational vehicles
  • Storing the belongings of long-term guests
  • Storing vehicles

Commercial and Industrial Uses for Storage Pods

Businesses often require extra storage space, whether it's due to seasonal changes in inventory and supplies, because of an upcoming convention or trade show, or recent growth. As with construction companies, many commercial enterprises have need of temporary office space, especially when the company grows quickly but a lease forbids moving yet. You may also want to hold off on moving into a larger space until you determine whether your new growth is permanent, or even complete.

As with homeowners, you may also need extra storage or workspace during renovations and remodeling. Common commercial and industrial storage pod uses include:

  • Creating extra warehouse space
  • Creating temporary office space for renovations or recent growth
  • Storing documents and records
  • Storing extra or seasonal inventory
  • Storing office furniture and equipment
  • Storing yard and maintenance equipment

Retail Storage Unit Uses

Retail stores struggle with seasonal merchandise every year. Merchandise arrives months before the actual holiday or season, creating storage space issues. Additional space in the form of storage containers efficiently controls excess inventory issues. Seasonal inventory can be stored and temporarily warehoused in containers onsite without losing crucial retail space within the store. Containers that include temperature control features protect merchandise in an environmentally controlled, worry free area.

The following storage applications are popular with retailers:

  • Storing documents and records
  • Storing lay-away items
  • Storing seasonal inventory
  • Storing the property's maintenance equipment

Government/Education/Healthcare

Safely and securely store and archive documents and records, including HIPAA-protected medical information, with storage containers. You may also store office furnishings and equipment, maintenance and recreational supplies, and even seasonal decorations with these handy units.

Education and healthcare facilities also maintain containers as a secure form of storage. In addition to the storage of equipment, furnishings, and excess supplies, storage units become an inexpensive, convenient, sheltered area to store materials during construction and renovation projects.

Common school, hospital, or governmental office uses include:

  • Athletic and band equipment storage
  • Records storage
  • Office and healthcare equipment
  • Facilities maintenance storage
  • School and office furniture excess storage
  • Yard maintenance equipment

Uses for Special Events

Storage and office space is an essential asset for any festival or special event. These frequently take place in locations where storage and office space is limited or non-existent, such as an open field, parking lot, or resort. Fairs, concerts, festivals, golf tournaments, and local events often use storage containers to store equipment and supplies safely and securely. Modified containers, customized with shelving, lighting, doors, and controlled environmental units, transform into offices, ticket booths, changing rooms, and administrative areas.

Common special event applications include:

  • Band dressing and changing rooms
  • Concert equipment storage
  • Communication centers and information booths
  • Event supplies storage
  • Ticket sales booth
  • Meeting and conference rooms
  • Promotional supplies storage
  • Security office
  • Ticket sales booth

Storing Perishable and Hazardous Goods

Storage containers allow customization that makes them suitable for storing perishable and hazardous products.

The dairy, meat, poultry, and frozen food industries, as well as medical-pharmaceutical industries, use custom refrigerated containers to ship and temporarily store items. Modification of these units includes shelving, lighting, refrigeration, lock boxes, and butcher doors.

To store or transport hazardous materials, choose containers with customized, reinforced walls and flooring, with secure shelving, temperature control, and lock boxes. With proper customization, these containers safely carry chemicals as well as flammable and combustible materials.

Glossary of Storage Container Terminology

  • Carrier Owned Container: Abbreviated as COC; the carrier owns or leases the container for transport or storage.
  • CW Certificate: Abbreviation of Cargo-Worthy Certificate, which confirms the unit is suitable for transportation.
  • Container Specification: Describes the container's components and assembly methods.
  • CSC Plate: A plate affixed to the unit's door, which lists the container's serial number, manufacture date, owner data, recent inspection date, and other technical data.
  • FEU: Abbreviation of "forty-foot equivalent" unit.
  • Handling: Loading or unloading the container, typically indicates the fee to transport and deliver the storage unit.
  • IICL: The Institute of International Container Lessors, a D.C.-based organization that sets standards for repairs made my leasing companies.
  • MGW: The maximum allowable weight of a loaded container.
  • Payload: The maximum weight of cargo that may be loaded into a container (Payload equals the MGW minus the Tare).
  • Tare: What the container weighs with no cargo loaded.
  • TEU: Abbreviation for "twenty-foot equivalent" unit.

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