Freight Container Floors Breaking -- How to Spread the Weight?

Freight Container Floors Breaking -- How to Spread the Weight?


We ship heavy freight, rolls of paper on pallets. Some ocean container floors break due the continuous stress made by forklifts entering them while carrying 4500-lb pallets. This is a safety hazard for the operators. Any ideas of what can be used to spread the weight from dock to container floor?flat bars, rounds, etc.). We use forklifts, small overhead cranes and manual handling. Do you have any other ideas?


Jim Shephard
Shephard's Industrial Training Systems

I need to precede my answer with questions of my own: What size of lift trucks are you using to load the containers? Do you inspect the container floors prior to loading? What loading patterns are you using for the rolls? How do your operators load the containers? Are you finding these bad floors before loading or during the loading process? Do you or have you in the past rejected containers with bad floors?

When loading containers, pre loading inspection must be required. Bad floors not only put operators at risk, but water damage will also result. You ask what can be done, I would be reluctant to repair a container floor. It might be in your best interest to reject the container. Your container supplier most likely has a repair shop. If they cannot supply you with good containers, change suppliers!

You are right! Your first priority is to PROTECT YOUR OPERATORS.

Something to think about: if you are loading the containers with a 12 or 15K capacity lift truck that might be the part of the problem. The weight of the lift truck with load at the point of contact of the drive axle on the floor could be as much as 14 to 16K. Don’t forget that some of the counterweight on a lift truck with a load is being transferred to the drive axle. Think of the simple teeter totter, as the weight offsets the counterweight, the counterweight weight when the load is picked up moves forward toward the drive axle. The drive axle at this point is carrying all of the load and part of the counterweight.

Another thing, if your lift truck operators are driving down the side wall of the container to load left or right position to build their load pattern, this technique is incorrect. This too will break out the floor. A quick pre load inspection will prove whether or not your operators are breaking the floor. But it sounds like your operators are the ones breaking through an already bad floor. Have a discussion with your container supplier!  

Finally, yes some have put plywood over the hole, but I don’t recommend it, because if you set you pallet on the edge of the plywood this may tilt the stack of rolls causing the top of two stacks to rub, creating paper damage during transit. If you decide to put plywood on the floor, make sure your load is set over the plywood.

Inspect, identify and reject.

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