What Is a Floor Loaded Container?

A floor loaded container is any shipping container that has its heaviest weight concentrated in the bottom 3/4 of the steel walls. Floor Loaded Shipping Containers (FLSC) are designed to take advantage of the buoyancy of water, and to increase usable space in the container. FLSCs can be lifted out of the water with a crane, allowing you to get at your cargo easily.

What Is a Floor Loaded Container

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Floor Loaded Shipping Container Advantages:

  • Weight capacity is increased by 14% over other types of containers because cargo weight is concentrated on lower 3/4 of steel walls.
  • Cargo sits higher in the unit than it would in a truck trailer or rail car, which means there is no wasted space underneath it for other freight.  This also makes them easier to load and unload than other types of containers because there’s no need for forklifts or loading ramps.
  • Container has less torsional rigidity than other types of containers, which can help prevent cargo from shifting during travel.  This helps the unit to last longer and reduces insurance costs.
  • Cargo is more accessible because the floor of the container is not solid steel all around; it only has a bottom 3/4.  The rest of the steel walls are used for strength, but they are hollow, allowing you access to your goods easily through openings in the sides or top (for high cube containers).  These cargo doors must be sealed with gaskets so water can’t get inside.
  • FLSCs are stackable up to four high without additional center posts or bracing that would normally be required for a solid-sided container.
  • FLSCs are lighter than other containers, which can help reduce transportation costs.

Floor Loaded Shipping Container Disadvantages:

  • They have more design limitations than any other type of shipping container and only certain sizes and shapes will work as FLSCs (see “Types of Floor Loaded Containers” below).  As with any product, the manufacturer should be able to advise you on this aspect of your purchase.
  • The floor cannot be made from wood; it must either be steel or aluminum.  This is because wood floats and steel sinks.  See “Types of Floor Loaded Containers” below for specific weight limits associated each type.   For example, the weight limit for steel floor load containers is 24 tons, while aluminum floor load containers can handle up to 33 tons.
  • The overhang of the roof may interfere with the loading and unloading process if it’s not properly engineered (see “Types of Floor Loaded Containers” below).

You need two basic things to make a shipping container into a floor loaded one: 1) the container must be built out of aluminum rather than steel, and 2) it must have an open area in at least 3/4 of its length on top or bottom that enables cargo to sit lower than where the walls meet.  These two design elements allow for proper distribution of weight throughout different parts of the container so cargo doesn’t tip when in motion like it would in a regular shipping container.

What Is a Floor Loaded Container - unloading container

Types Of Floor Loaded Shipping Containers:

  • A high cube floor loaded container is one whose walls are at least 203mm (8″) taller than standard 20′ and 40′ ISO shipping containers.  This makes the top part of the walls even with or higher than the roof, making them easily accessible for cargo loading and unloading, but still stackable.
  • Floor loaders can also be built with extremely wide side walls to allow large equipment such as construction cranes to pass through when using 3/4 height doors.
  • A non-floor loaded container has its heaviest weight concentrated near the bottom 1/2 of the steel wall and have an open area in the top 1/4 of the container or at all.  In this type of container, cargo cannot sit lower than where the walls meet and will be stacked much higher making them harder to load and unload quickly.
  • A double floor loaded container is a combination of a high cube and non-floor loader that has a solid bottom 3/4 but an opening in the top area that allows cargo to sit lower within the unit.

FLSCs are built from two types of floor loads: steel floor loaders (steel boxes with a steel or aluminum floor for stacking purposes) and aluminum floor load containers (aluminum boxes with a wood or steel decking for stacking purposes).   The wood or steel decking is what holds the weight of your cargo and distributes it throughout the container.  In an aluminum floor loader, the special aluminum floor sits on top of a steel or aluminum base built into the container’s walls.  The weight limit for a 20′ ISO high cube FLSC with a steel floor is about 24 tons, and for an aluminum floor loader it’s about 33 tons.


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