Moving a container with four corner jacks and backing a trailer under it? I love this question.
I do have some thoughts on the four corner jacks, both from personal experience (before QuickLoadz) and listening to customer pain. We got a new customer after his employee had his foot crushed by the four corner jack system that they tried to build themselves. They had spent months building and tweaking these jacks, then one jack slid out because it wasn’t getting jacked up evenly, and crushed the employee’s foot. They never even got to the hard part of backing a trailer under the container.
Let’s detail what this involves.
You want to put a jack in each corner of a container, jack it up high enough that you can either get it off of a trailer or slide a trailer under it, depending on whether you are picking it up or dropping it off.
- A container is 96″ wide. In the US, the trailer can’t be more than 102″ wide without a permit. That leaves 6″ for tires. Okay, so the tires will have to be under the container, not on the outside. That means instead of jacking up a container maybe 24″ (at best) you need to jack up a container 36″ (also at best). You are proposing jacking up a container at the four corners three feet off the ground. Doable, but…
- The jacks themselves are pretty heavy, so someone has to carry these things around, load and unload them, in snow, fog, and rain; and get pretty filthy doing it. Everything about a jack is going to be greasy or dirty.
- Find a solid way to mount these things to the container. In other words, I have seen and used jacks that go into the corner castings, but they are not the most stable of things. Plus, finding one that will jack up to the height you need isn’t easy. Most jacks elevate maybe six inches because of stability. Think about lifting 4,500 pounds 36″ in the air on four corner jacks. They have to have a way to be secured to the container. You must do this without scarring up the paint or logo stickers on the container. I haven’t seen a system that does this with all containers; containers are different in the way they are made.
- You need to find four solid points that aren’t slippery or too uneven on the ground.
- You have to jack evenly, which means two to four people, or one person pumping one pump on one jack, running to the next corner, one pump, next corner, one pump, etc… in the snow, fog, and rain.
Well, what if you hooked all the jacks together and used an electric hydraulic pump to pump them up all at once? This will not work, but you wouldn’t know that unless you dive into the details of hydraulics. In short, the hydraulic fluid will always go to the point of least pressure. With four jacks, one corner will always weigh less than the other corners and jack up first. The container will tilt and bend or break the jacks. Unless you knew this about hydraulics and had thought about it enough in advance, you won’t know about this problem. Wonder what other problems might you be overlooking? We’ve been building QuickLoadz for six years—tens? hundreds? of thousands of containers have been moved.
- Here is the part no one thinks about: You have your 4,500 lb. container (if it’s empty) jacked up at least 36″. Now you must back a trailer under the container perfectly without hitting any of the jacks that are sticking out right next to the container. That means for the full 96″, 240″, or 480″ (depending on the container length) backing up straight within a margin of maybe 2″. Sure, I’ve seen truck drivers that can do it. But I can’t. Try it with four traffic cones. Then try it at night, in the snow, in the fog, in the rain. Then remember that every time you bump a cone means you knocked over a jack, a 4,500 lb. steel container toppled three feet, landed hard on its corner, and is now stuck lopsided on your trailer. Sooner or later, something is going to get broken.
- You can’t travel with these jacks attached because you would be too wide, so how do you take them in and out once the container is on the trailer? The trailer is going to have to be special to allow this to happen. Access to all four corners, with cutouts for the jacks. But then where do you put your trailer lights? At least in the US, you have to have a light on each corner. Also, how do you lock your container onto the trailer with part of the trailer cut out for the jack access?
- We haven’t talked about securing the container yet. QuickLoadz is more than the fastest, safest, easiest, cheapest, most versatile way to move containers. It’s also the fastest, safest, easiest, and cheapest way to lock containers. Push a button, the container is locked. With your four corner jacks, after you’ve got the jacks out of the corners, you still have to strap, chain, or in some other way lock the container to the trailer. In the US, the container has to be locked by the four corner castings. Without a system to do that, you’re looking at manual straps and chains.
I guess it all depends on how often you move these things, and if you see a need for moving containers for others. Without QuickLoadz there is no way to move loaded containers short of a crane truck (really heavy, slow, dangerous, expensive) or having forklifts or cranes waiting at both ends.
If you only once in a while move containers, and don’t care how long it takes, or how difficult it is, or how dangerous it is, or what you might do to the surface, and don’t think that there is any need from anyone else to move containers, then some four corner post / jack and regular trailer thing might work sometimes, after you spend a lot of time creating it.
Essentially, it boils down to these two choices:
- You can try to make your own system (So long as you don’t wander over our patents, so no hydraulic side corner locks, no lift wedges, no dual drive chains, no big rollers on the back, no smart phone controlled hydraulics), but you will need time (It was four years of development and two years of testing before QuickLoadz went to a customer), it won’t work perfectly the first time (Certain QuickLoadz parts are on version 12), you will still have to buy a trailer and modify it, or build one from scratch and make sure it’s DOT compliant (Are you familiar with the Federal bumper rules or light color laws?), you will have to buy a bunch of jacks and modify them (If you go with the four corner jack method), you will still have to find some way to secure the container. And what do you get? In the case of the four corner jacks: a system that will be slow, dangerous, heavy, dirty, require a lot of skill to operate safely, and not something you will feel good about sending an employee out to do (I’d let my daughter move containers with QuickLoadz).
- Or, you could buy a QuickLoadz and immediately start moving containers fast, safe, and easy in 3 minutes without getting out of your seat. You can do this not only for yourself, but for anyone else that needs containers moved. There do seem to be a lot of containers out there, and sooner or later, they all need moved.
Seems like a clear choice.