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5 Common Uses for Onsite Container Storage Units

Ocean-going cargo shipping containers that once sailed the oceans often serve more land-locked purposes as robust storage containers. While onsite storage is often linked to construction sites, it is also used for other venues and purposes.

We'll discuss five usages here. We will start with the always popular jobsite storage options, but we'll also cover some you might not have realized were possible, yet you can utilize for your other projects as well.

1. Cargo containers for jobsite storage

We've talked on several occasions about using container storage units for construction site purposes. They provide secure, vandal-resistant storage for tools, equipment, and parts. With the price of lumber, copper, and other building materials rising, you need to make sure nothing "walks" off the site. Let's take a deeper dive into construction site practices before we look at other potential uses for container storage.

While renting just one storage unit might suffice, many construction companies choose to lease several units simultaneously. Construction companies who provide multiple crafts find it conducive to keep materials separated using a distinct container for each craft. If the GCs (general contractors) are in charge of renting units, they find it convenient to rent a storage box for each craft, which makes tracking and inventory easier.

SB-5-uses-onsitestorage-2The size of the cargo container box is usually based on the material to be stored in them. For example, electrical trades often benefit from the 8' X 20' units. This size allows racks to be installed to hold and separate conduits of various diameters and still allow plenty of room for shelving to hold fittings and other necessities. Keeping a good supply of various condulets—such as pull-through conduit bodies, tees, and LBs—ensures your electricians won't run out in the middle of a conduit run. In addition, separating them by size and type assists inventory tracking.

Since shipping containers used for onsite storage sit directly on the ground, a shallow ramp can be placed in front of the swing-out cargo doors. This allows bulk storage of conductors and permits easy access to them. Whether supplied on large bulk spools, bulk barrel containers (a relatively new offering), or smaller spools already mounted on roll-around or cart wiring racks, rolling them in and out of a ground-level storage container is much easier than using a forklift to retrieve them from a trailer type storage option. That said, a trailer can be used for bulk storage, with supplies transferred to the container on an as-needed basis.

Of course, plumbing, HVAC, and other crafts benefit similarly from using converted shipping container boxes. Even those trades that finish out the interiors of buildings under construction will find that cargo container storage promotes a more efficient operation. For example, it's possible to ship fixtures, flooring, carpeting, and furniture to the jobsite long before they need to be installed.

This helps keep 'surprises' at bay, ensuring the products are onsite in time or ahead of schedule. The weather- and vandal-resistant containers (which, by the way, are also rodent and pest resistant) safeguards the products' pristine condition when the time comes for installation. And since they're delivered to the jobsite in advance, any items damaged in transit can be replaced before they're needed.

2. Mobile offices in a can

One of the nicknames given to ocean-going cargo containers is Sea Can. However, these robust storage 'cans' can be used for mobile offices in various settings.

Shipping containers converted to mobile offices are primarily used for jobsite offices used by general contractors, electrical and plumbing companies, and other trades. (At SiteBox, they're available for purchase or rent, already preconfigured.)  However, mobile offices are just one of their many uses. Others include:

  • Security offices for construction, major renovation, and demolition projects
  • Protected offices for carnivals and festivals
  • Security offices for pop up music concerts
  • Mobile command centers for natural disasters
  • First responder huts (divided with offices in one end, rest areas in the other)

Cargo container storage units are often modified to make secure areas for mobile offices on a job site. Some rental storage containers have a few modifications already in place. For example, some (like those at SiteBox) will be configured with grated windows and basic electrical systems with outlets for office equipment.

Rental units that are preconfigured for office use will have overhead lighting, and heating and air conditioning units mounted on one end. Personnel entry doors on the side are included in most cargo container units designed for office space instead of strictly for storage use. Basic countertops and shelving are often included.

Room dividers (with or without personnel doors) are a possibility. That means that these units can either have two offices, or include an unfinished storage area on one end that's accessed by swingout cargo doors. In rentals used for both office and storage, the office section will have finished walls, while the storage unit will be the normal cargo container interior. The unfinished area can be fitted with pipe racks, three-tier shelving, and even hooks for hanging bicycles use by employees to get to work or cruise the jobsite quickly.

One thing to remember is that these office units are preconfigured with a limited amount of modification possible. They're very popular on job sites, so contact the rental company to make sure one's available for use. These modified units come in 20-foot and 40-foot lengths.

3. Cargo container for temporary warehousing

Another reason you might want to lease an onsite storage container is to provide temporary warehousing of retail goods. Often, buying bulk seasonal items and special purchase goods require more space than you have available. Setting a mobile storage cargo container near your store can give you the much-needed, secure, and weather-resistant enclosure you need. And it keeps your showroom or display area free of the clutter that might hinder shoppers.

They are particularly useful if your store's warehouse is undergoing expansion. Since it might be inconvenient, if not downright dangerous, for employees to retrieve items from a warehouse under renovation, shipping container storage keeps your personnel out of harm's way.

Since they sit directly on the ground and are easily accessed with a small ramp, the employees can access products quickly and safely, even if bulky or in large boxes.

Because shipping containers are built to be pest and rodent resistant, dry goods such as cereals and other nonperishable dry foods are protected from damage by mice and other pests. 

4. Business relocations made easier with onsite storage containers

There are times when you're relocating your business, either across town or across the state. You can temporarily store a lot of supplies, furniture, and office equipment at the new location, as long as you can find a solution that's sturdy enough to give you peace of mind. While a gated storage facility can fit the bill, a mobile storage unit can often be parked at the new location, saving time and money by only moving your stuff once.

These units can be placed near the new location, often in a parking lot. They facilitate the move by allowing you to store supplies and office equipment at the new location to be retrieved and installed at your convenience.

Moving your office to a new location can be quite involved without preparation and a good plan of action. Creating a business moving checklist, often starting as much as eight weeks from the final move, can help make the transition run smoothly.

5. Temporary Storage for Schools and universities 

One of the most interesting practices we've seen is schools and universities using mobile cargo container storage units as more or less permanent storage facilities. Sports equipment, extra tables and chairs, desks, and other office equipment are often stored in cargo shipping containers on the school grounds. Even groundskeeping equipment, up to and including lawnmowers and tractors, are stored securely in these units.

Many schools and universities rent or lease these containers ongoing, charging the rental fees to their operating expense budget. Because of the multiple-use possibilities and repurposing options, it just makes sense for them to set them up semi-permanently.

The possibilities are only limited by your imagination, really

These are just five of the most common reasons for renting shipping containers for secure storage and operations. Now that you know them, you may come up with several ideas of your own.

The only limitations are your brainstorming ideas, and of course, the ability to get them delivered. Should you have questions about renting or buying an onsite storage unit, or preconfigured mobile office, contact SiteBox Storage