February 17, 2014

Four Things to Have When Inspecting Containers at the Intermodal

Today I was reminded that since I didn’t join the Boy Scouts as a boy, I was once again, not prepared. I had a meeting in the morning and afterwards the timing was right so that I would be able to catch two containers we had sold being loaded onto the delivery truck at the Depot. Since they were going to a very good customer of ours and it was the first time I had purchased from this source, I decided to head down to the Intermodal and see what we were getting. The problem was I was dressed for a meeting not the depot, so I began thinking of the “showing up at the depot must have list,” and the first thing is…
1 – Dress Right: I happened to be wearing dress shoes today, however I that didn’t stop me from walking through the Intermodal yard, in the snow and search out container numbers. Intermodals are not fancy places, they are dirty, there is lots of stuff that can damage nice clothes so dress shoes are defiantly a no go. I was fortunate; none of my clothes were damaged as I walked between stacks of containers in the snow. Other than damp socks and cold feet everything fared pretty well. When going to the Intermodal to inspect containers make sure you wear appropriate shoes, meaning shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty, or walking through snow, puddles or mud in. The same goes for the rest of your clothes and coats or Jackets. Wear work boots, jeans and a long sleeve shirt to protect your skin. But above all, wear stuff that you won’t mind if it gets dirty as likely it will and don’t forget to have pockets available for some of the other stuff you’ll need such as… 2 – A Camera: If you have many containers to look at a camera is an important tool to help you keep straight in your head what you looked at. Getting pictures of as many sides as you can and making sure you can see the container numbers will help you document the condition and protect you if the container shows up at your site with a big dent in the side that wasn’t there when you originally looked at the container. You’ll have more leverage with the depot or transportation contractor. 3 – Tools of the Trade: These probably obvious but here goes anyway, have a notebook with plenty of paper so you can jot down notes plus have a place to keep your list of container numbers. I like writing with mechanical pencils, they don’t freeze in the cold. Have pencils, markers, crayons, whatever your favorite writing tool is, but have a couple. The last tool of the trade is a small flashlight that you can keep in your pocket. As we outlined in the free e-book “Ten Items to Inspect When Buying Shipping Containers,” Flashlights are a great tool to help you inspect the inside of your container. 4 –Time The time you need to spend at the depot can go quick or it could take hours, the loader operators may not be very busy or two of them may have not shown up that day and the one guy who did is slammed, you could be walking around the yard in the rain or it can be a pleasant day, you just never know what to expect. Bring lots of time with you and don’t forget your patience too.