Different Ways Of Lifting Materials


Container lifting materials or equipment are quite costly and are often found in locations with a high container throughput only. With new container lifting solutions emerging in recent years, it has made owning container handling and lifting equipment much more affordable.

Here are some of the common container lifting options that help operators in many ways.

Container Lifting Jacks

Container lifting jacks are best suited for lifting containers in a location where the container volume is quite low. This is a cost-effective and portable solution that is capable of lifting heavy containers that can weigh up to 32,000 kg efficiently. It can handle containers of all types and works in tight spaces as well. Being portable, container lifting jacks can be used on-site or transported between different sites as well.

While it is cost-effective and portable, it trades off speed and automation while lifting containers. Container lifting jacks can’t be used for stacking containers or moving containers around on site.

Gantry Crane

Gantry cranes are one of the most commonly used lifting materials in ports. These are big cranes and are used to lift containers from ships at the dockside. Gantry cranes are fixed in one location and can move up and down the dock. Suitable for ports that have a high container turnover and require fast and efficient operations.

While gantry cranes are great to be used at ports, they are very expensive to install and maintain. Their big size limits the crane to be used at one site only and that is why most operators look for smaller, rubber type or rail-mounted gantry cranes. The smaller cranes are also capable of lifting, moving, or stacking shipping containers.

Straddle Carrier

Available in a lot of different sizes, straddle carriers can also lift containers from the top just like the gantry crane. They are mobile on-site and are needed to be operated on a reinforced concrete surface due to their size. Straddle carriers can easily move shipping containers from the port or from a ship. One of the things that a straddle carrier can do like stack containers on top of each other.

Straddle carriers are very expensive and can be used on a single site only. The reinforced concrete is an additional requirement that discourages container depots, importers, and exporters that handle low to medium-sized container volumes. They tend to use a “mini straddle” or smaller straddle carriers instead.

Also Read: What Processes Can You Automate With RPA?

Reach Stacker

A fast and easy way of handling containers is a reach stacker. This lifting equipment is capable of lifting very heavy containers easily and can move a single container around the site as well. It is automated has a fast turnaround and can stack 2-3 containers high and deep depending on the model.

While a reach stacker can be controlled by the driver without taking any help from the people on the ground, it is very expensive to install though. It can only be used on a single site and hence a number of operators use container jacks as an alternative.

Top Loader

Top loaders are specially adapted forklifts. They are generally used to stack containers on top of each other in a single pile by lifting the shipping containers from the top. In terms of speed, automation, and the ability to move containers around, top loaders are a bit like reach stackers and share some of the same characteristics.

Top loaders have a fast turnaround but are quite expensive upfront. They can be used on one site only and that is why operators tend to look for cheaper alternatives like container jacks.


In any warehouse or manufacturing operation, forklifts act as indispensable pieces of equipment. They are generally used for moving materials over small distances but can be used to lift empty lightweight containers and move them around if the need arises. Forklifts are multi-purpose equipment and are quite cost-effective as well.

Forklift lifts containers from the relatively short base and it can be dangerous if the weight of the container is distributed unevenly. They can’t handle all container types and weights and can be used on single sites only.

Side Loader

Side loaders are also known as self-loading trailers or side lifters. These are high-capacity chassis that can transfer, lift, transport full containers to/from other chassis or from the ground. The side loader requires only one operator and takes only 10 minutes in transferring the container.

Side loaders are an ideal solution for lifting shipping containers in multiple locations. A prime mover is needed to operate the equipment making it one of the disadvantages of side loaders. It is quite expensive and is not commonly available in many countries.

Truck Crane

In this container lifting equipment, a truck carrier is mounted with a crane that lowers containers anywhere within the arc of its reach. A truck crane is useful in handling containers in confined spaces and can lift more than just containers.

While a truck crane is mobile and can be used across multiple sites, it can only lift empty or lightly loaded containers due to a weight limit. They are slightly expensive and can’t be used to lift containers bigger than 20 feet.

Also Read: How to Start a Taxi Business Like Uber With One Car

Tilt Bed

Containers can be pushed off from a vehicle or winched on in a tilt bed. Also known as a tilt-deck chassis, it is used for lifting lightly loaded or empty containers by lowering the back end of the deck to the ground. Tilt beds are portable and can be moved across sites as well.

A tilt bed is cheaper than a side loader but can lift light containers only. It has a slow turnaround and can’t be used if the site isn’t long enough to allow the truck to drive away in a straight line. It is recommended to not use a tilt bed if the contents are too fragile.

Without these lifting materials available for use, shippers had to pay additional wait times in thousands of dollars just for the transport company to pack or unpack containers from the ship. These different lifting options are suitable for a number of different ships and are a great option for shippers that want to save money loading and unloading containers on every trip.


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