Container wheels: making sea containers manoeuvrable

Article | Posted on 14 June
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Moving sea containers is a major challenge. Especially when this has to be realised without the help of a crane. NEVA offers the ideal solution for this. With the help of the container wheels you can easily move large and heavy containers from place to place. In addition, the wheels ensure that you can manoeuver ISO sea containers in narrow spaces—something that is almost impossible with a crane.

What are container wheels?

Container wheels, also called sea container wheels or ISO container wheels, are characterised by a heavy-duty wheel system. This system is specially designed for the mobilisation of shipping containers, tanks and equipment or structures with ISO 1161 mouldings on the corners. As standard, each castor undercarriage is fitted with two wheels with polyurethane treads. This ensures that the wheels roll very smoothly and at the same time can carry heavy loads. Depending on the surface, you can also choose cast nylon or pneumatic tyres. On request we can also supply industrial rubber tyres with a high load capacity or solid cast polyamide 6.6 wheels.

For which applications are container wheels used?

The invention of the intermodal sea container is the biggest revolution in logistics. The standardisation of sea containers optimised the handling and storage of cargo on ships and ashore. Most companies today use sea containers for the logistics of bulk goods over long distances.

Container wheels are not only suitable for long-distance transport. For example, the wheels are often used for various applications such as storage or as a mobile unit for the short term. This ensures that the container wheels are suitable for various applications such as:

  • Port and sea transport
  • Workshop storage
  • Small container homes
  • Factory site storage applications
  • Mobile hospitals
  • Mobile telecommunications installations
  • Military use

What makes container wheels so unique?

It should be clear that not every arbitrary wheel system is suitable for mobilising sea containers. The main thing is that this wheel system must be robust and designed for heavy work. In addition, the wheel must be able to be clamped to the container and also be disconnected. This requires a special system: the twist-lock mechanism. This mechanism is incorporated in the top plate of the wheel and ensures that the container wheel can be attached to the ISO 1161 corner casting of an intermodal sea container.

How does the twist-lock mechanism work?

All castors have a swivel system to easily manoeuver containers in the right place, especially when space is limited. Since June 2020, the container wheels are standard equipped with a special directional lock: the twist-lock mechanism. This mechanism ensures that the container wheels can be fixed at any angle of 90 degrees. Over time, it has become clear that this lock is useful in a variety of applications. What is essential to mention here is that, by locking one of the rear wheels, the container gets a more regular drive. In addition, the directional lock makes it possible to leave the container completely stationary at a fixed location.

What type of sea container can the wheels be attached to?

All globally standardised ISO shipping containers are fitted with ISO 1161 corner castings: large triangular blocks that form the corners of the container. These corner castings are used to lift shipping containers and connect them to the means of transport used to move the containers. This can be, for example, ships, trains or road vehicles. In addition, these corners are also the points at which sea containers can be connected to each other, for example when they are stacked on a container ship.

The container wheels can thus be mounted on any container, as long as it is fitted with corner castings. The standard wheels are suitable for the corner castings of standard 20- and 40-foot containers. If you are looking for wheels for a sea container of a different size, please contact us. We are happy to help you find a suitable solution.

How do you attach the container wheels?

Putting a (sea) container on wheels sounds like a complicated and heavy process. However, this is easier to achieve than you might expect. You can easily place the container on wheels in three steps:

  1. Make sure the ground and planned path are level and free of obstacles.
  2. Lift the container using a container jack, a forklift or a crane.
  3. Insert the container wheels from below into the corner moulding of the container, and secure them with the twist-lock system. Our shipping container wheels fit in any ISO 1161 corner casting.

Attaching the container wheels only takes a few minutes per wheel. Once you have completed the entire installation process, the container can be moved without a problem. Attaching the wheels not only sounds easy, but it is. However, for safety reasons, we recommend that you pay attention to the following when attaching container wheels: Please note that a container’s load may not be evenly distributed on all four wheels in the event that:

  • Please note that a container’s load may not be evenly distributed on all four wheels in the event that:
    • The container is loaded unevenly
    • The surface is not flat but skewed
    • Are there any obstacles or thresholds on the surface
  • For safety reasons, we urge you to check the loading of the container and, if in doubt about the loading capacity, contact a qualified technician. During the transport of the container, keep a distance of at least 2 metres when the container is moving.
  • Never go under the container.

The trailer hitch: when semi-truck delivery is not possible

We understand that it is not always possible to use semi-truck delivery for sea containers. In this case, the tow bar offers a good solution. Using the tow bar, the wheeled container can also be attached to a tugboat, tractor or forklift truck so that it can be set in motion. The collapsible pull rods ensure that the container can be pulled or pushed into the right place in an efficient manner.

Questions or personal advice

Do you still have questions about container wheels after reading this article? Or would you like to receive personal advice for your specific application? Please feel free to contact us. We are happy to help you find the best solution!