'Whale Knows' - How To Make The Most Of Your Sea Freight Container Space

'Whale Knows' - How To Make The Most Of Your Sea Freight Container Space

In this series, we go through the most frequently asked questions from our customers. This week, Natalia, our Business Development Manager, goes through the best practices when it comes to making maximum use of your container space.

container in shipping wharf

Types of containers

The type of container you have can determine how you will be able to organize your freight to make the most use of your space. Obviously, for LCL (less than container load), you will be limited to the amount that you've paid for, i.e. by pallet or cubic meter.

For FCL (full container load), which is the preferred method for medium to large importers, these containers come in different sizes. 20 ft containers are 20ft in length, 8ft in height and width. 40ft containers are 40ft in length, and 8ft in height and width. 40ft Hi-Cube containers are slightly taller than normal 40ft, with 40ft length, 8ft width, and 9.5ft height.

For both LCL and FCL, the best way to maximize your container space is to pack your goods into pallets. Pallets are stackable, and within a container you should be able to pack 20 pallets. Additionally, in the absence of pallets, loading and unloading may take longer and can incur waiting time fees.

Weight Restrictions on Containers

However, limitations on weight still exists for container freight into and out of Australia. The primary reason being that these containers will be transported on road out of the port or wharf to the relevant unpacking area. Below is a list of weight restrictions of major states/ports in Australia.

Weight Limitations - Brisbane/Queensland
Maximum loaded weight of container for road transport in Queensland is 27.5T.
Therefore max cargo weight:

  • 25T per 20ftGP (less if HC or reefer)
  • 23.5T per 40ft GP (less if HC or reefer)

Weights of more than this require special equipment and / or permits.

Weight Limitations - Freemantle/Western Australia
Maximum loaded weight of container for road transport in Western Australia is 24.5T.
Therefore max cargo weight:

  • 22T per 20ftGP (less if HC or reefer)
  • 20.5 per 40ft GP (less if HC or reefer)

Most Western Australian carriers have heavy mass permits to 30 tonne (Gross Container Weight) depending on vehicle combination. However, beyond the 22 tonne a heavy container surcharge applies.

Weight Limitations - Sydney/New South Wales
Maximum loaded weight of container for road transport in New South Wales is 26T.
Therefore max cargo weight:

  • 23.5T per 20ftGP (less if HC or reefer)
  • 22T per 40ft GP (less if HC or reefer)

Weight Limitations - Melbourne/Victoria
Maximum loaded weight of container for road transport in Victoria is 27T.
Therefore max cargo weight:

  • 24.7T per 20ftGP (less if HC or reefer)
  • 22.8T per 40ft GP (less if HC or reefer)

Weights greater than this require unpacking at the terminal and will incur additional charges.

Weight Limitations - Adelaide/South Australia
Maximum loaded weight of container for road transport in South Australia is 26.9T per 20ft & 28T per 40ft.
Therefore max cargo weight:

  • 24.4T per 20ftGP (less if HC or reefer)
  • 24T per 40ft GP (less if HC or reefer)

Air Freight Unit Loaded Devices

Air freight is slightly more challenging than sea freight to maximize space as the weight (kgs) is the major factor in the cost of shipping cargo via air freight. Therefore, unit loaded devices (ULDs) are sometimes used to optimize space and kgs in order to be highly cost effective in this medium.

Unit_Load_Device_003

It is important to keep these ULDs under a certain weight (previously agreed with your broker), however you may be able to add extra light goods to make use of the room and fast shipping times. The key is the combination between dense and non-dense cargo to optimize your chargeable weight.

If you found this article helpful, check out more articles on our 'Whale Knows' series. If you have any questions or need advice on how to utilise your container space or unit loaded devices, click here.


Whale Logistics are Australia’s leading Freight Forwarder and Logistics company located in Sydney and Melbourne. We deliver digital-focused freight forwarding services such as Australian customs parcel tracking, parcel delivery box, and comprehensive ocean, air and road freight solutions. For cost competitive and innovative freight forwarding solutions, or if you want to get in touch with one of our Customer Success Managers, drop us a line and we will be in touch shortly.

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