Tow Trailer vs. QuickLoadz

I had a customer tell me that they can buy a tow trailer for $32,000 to move containers around. They had never moved a container in their lives and were looking to get into moving them empty and loaded. I felt like I needed to explain the difference.

If you are only moving empties and only doing it once in great while, not concerned about the driver’s safety or not concerned about the customers grass/asphalt/concrete, then it might not make sense to buy a QuickLoadz. Quickloadz is designed to move loaded or empty containers all day, everyday, for years. Also, used QuickLoadz are selling for only 15% less than new ones. That’s right: 85% of new value after being used for at least a year. People hang onto them, and the only used ones we have seen are our old demos and units from customer upgrades.

Stick with me here and I’ll explain why the QuickLoadz is the only way to move sea shipping containers and why everything else is wasted dollars. It really isn’t obvious unless you have moved containers everyday and gotten to directly compare the options.

I understand the allure of $32,000 versus $45,000, but it is a false economy. Here are a few things that are commonly overlooked, especially if you haven’t moved containers before:

1) The trailer has to have side rails the width of the container. Not for legal reasons, but because if you don’t, when you try to winch a container up on it, it simply slides off one side or the other. If the person loading isn’t paying attention, you get a big 2½ ton container half on and half off of a tilted trailer bed. So if you purchase a tilt bed & winch, then you would need to weld some angle to the side of the trailer to guide the container on and keep it on while being loaded or unloaded. This is no joke, it isn’t that expensive to get done and really is dangerous to load or unload without. Any attempt at safely loading a container will require this modification.

2) How do you get the end of the container off of the ground to get your trailer under it? How do you get one side of a 2½ ton (assuming empty) container off the ground? What if it is frozen into the ground? What if it has sunk into the hot asphalt? QuickLoadz uses remote controlled lift wedges: you don’t get out of your seat to load a container. But for everyone else… how? Common attempts include: manual jacks, trying to jam the end of you trailer under it, or hooking to the container (assuming that the corner castings aren’t full of ice or mud), and using the trailer tilt to try to lift the end of the container. This last method only really works with empties, you will raise the truck off of the ground with a loaded container. This picture demonstrates the method of using the trailer tilt to block up the end of the container so you can get under it. Doesn’t that seem like a PIA? Doesn’t it seem likely to bend the back of the trailer all up?

3) If you have a winch style trailer, you have to have at least 2 or 3 feet from the winch to where the container stops because you have to have some sort of chain through the front corner castings to grab the container. These hooks can’t go all the way through the corner castings; they have to just hook through the front. Otherwise, they hit the side rails, so you hook like this:

Let’s recap: you have hooked the front of the container only through the front of the corner castings, with some sort of special chain hook you have made, and are now getting ready to drag a 2½ ton container across someone’s grass, asphalt or concrete onto your trailer. You don’t have a remote control, so your head is right about bed height. For people who move containers all the time this is called the chain triangle of death. The container snags, a winch cable breaks, the chain pops out of the corner casting—any of a dozen little things can happen, and a heavy chain or cable is whipping by your head at a high rate of speed. This happens all the time. I delivered containers. It is why I designed QuickLoadz.

4) You have your container blocked up, you have your chain triangle of death set. Now what? You drag a 2½ ton container across someone’s yard, asphalt or concrete; or you drag the back edge of the trailer across someone’s grass/asphalt/concrete. Do you think they will be pleased? Do you think you are going to get some bills for concrete repair? What do you do, just not deliver to anyone who would be mad that you tore up their grass, asphalt or concrete? Or do you just pay those people that go to the trouble of suing you?

QuickLoadz has giant rollers on the back of their trailers so that the container stays still and the trailer simply slides underneath. The driver sits in the cab of the truck, remotely operating the duel chains (that keep the container loading even) on their phone while the trailer is pulled under the container rolling along on its rollers. This is why QuickLoadz is selling to mobile storage and moving industries; the system doesn’t tear up someone’s grass, asphalt or concrete.

5) You have pulled the container on the trailer. But… not all the way on. Why not all the way on? Because then you can’t get it off. A winch pulls, it will not push your container off. Actually, you could get it off by doing something goofy like unhooking the container from the winch, tilting the trailer, backing up, and slamming on the brakes (it is an acquired skill). This shows what you do—you leave a foot or so hanging off of the back of the trailer.

Okay, no big deal… if you are moving only empties you can get away with this. If there is anything, and I do mean anything in that container, then it is illegal to move it without it entirely on the trailer. Also, if you have 1-to-2 feet hanging off the trailer, you need to make sure the center of the container is over or in front of the trailer axles. Otherwise, as you bounce down the road, you are lifting up on the back of your truck. Really, really dangerous. Essentially, you are lifting up on the back of your truck while hauling a load as heavy or heavier than your truck. This load is 8½ foot by 8 foot and flat, with the front catching wind and shoving side to side. It is a little bit crazy.

6) You have your container loaded, now how do you secure it? You do what everyone who does not have a QuickLoadz does: you pull out extra long, freight rated straps. Sling the hook end over the top of the container, miss at least once, then the hook bangs into your container or trailer. If the strap twists, then you have to do it again because otherwise, it is illegal. At least 2 are required per container. If it is windy or icy, you have to hope that your driver actually does a good job or it will come off of there.

The QuickLoadz has four hydraulic locking pins that slide into the corner castings. The driver never leaves their seat and can see in their rear view mirror that the locks are slid in.

7) Last I will hit some other features. (a) WiFi rearview camera that the driver can see on their cell phone is standard, no other manufacturer even offers. (b) 38 HP Kohler engine is standard, no other manufacturer comes close. (c) Hot dipped Galvanizing, only manufacturer to even offer as option. (d) Cell phone control is standard, that’s right, the entire system is run from the driver’s cell phone. I’ve never even heard of any manufacturer making any tow or crane that does that, let alone offers as standard.

In short, there is no other system designed for moving sea shipping containers. Tow trailers and tow trucks are just that, they are not designed for moving sea shipping containers. Tow trailers don’t do it well and will therefore cause more injuries and claims than the price difference between them and a QuickLoadz. You can buy a tow trailer for less up front dollars but it is a false economy that ignores driver retention, driver safety, customer damage, flexibility. You will rapidly end up paying much more in trailer repairs, workers comp, lost jobs, and customer damage than the cost difference between a tow trailer and a QuickLoadz.

QuickLoadz is designed, tested, and used by an engineer who is surrounded by other engineers and experts, who work with ISO 14000 manufacturers to move sea shipping containers. Sure it is also a tow trailer, a flatbed, and the truck version is also a dump truck, but primarily it is the only system designed to move containers. It is fast, safe, light, totally unique and worth every penny.

- Sean