Tips to Optimise Container Loading Capacity

Whilst there are several types of containers for shipping, including containers suitable for specialist cargo such as flat racks, open-top containers and reefer containers, the majority of general cargo is shipped in standard 20’, 40’, and 40HC general-purpose containers. 

At Pinnacle, we offer freight services across all types of containers and specialist project cargo and can assist in any type of cargo loading.

Internal dimensions for general-purpose containers are below.

For any requirements outside of general-purpose containers please do not hesitate to contact the Pinnacle team at 0845 6216 111 or email us at

Container loading capacity is important and needs to be considered carefully as not only will maximising the load impact the cost per unit and help increase profitability, you need to consider the balance, stability, distribution and safety of the load to make sure that movement and damage during transit of your cargo is reduced. You will also need to make sure that any packaging material complies with the rules set out by the destination country.

Pinnacle can help you plan the load of your shipment and has loading management tools to support with this. Also if you do not have adequate facilities, room or equipment to load your container, we can offer a full container loading service. Our warehouse and packing operatives are well experienced to make sure your container is loaded efficiently, securely and safely.

Best practice when loading a container

Best practice when loading a container

Firstly, upon arrival of your container for loading you need to thoroughly inspect the container for any damage that may make it unworthy of transportation. The container will need to be both air and water-tight, so check the seals are in good order and look for any holes/major rust which would allow water inside the container. 

If you see any damage then take pictures including the container number, clause the collection note with the defects and reject the container. Similarly, the container should be clean and tidy and free of contaminants which could compromise your load. It is much better to stop the load at this point, rather than it getting to your customer resulting in damage and the possibility of a lengthy insurance claim.

When loading the container, we suggest loading from heavy to light (where heavy is loaded first and lighter goods are on top). Next, you load from back to the front of the container, and from bottom to top. Secure your cargo with straps, chains, and cargo nets and fill any gaps with dunnage to help avoid the movement of your goods during transit. 

Again you must make sure that any wooden packaging complies with the rules of the destination country and we would suggest only using wood which is ISPM15 compliant. Also when loading your container you need to consider how your customer will off-load the container when they receive the goods which they have ordered from you. 

Next, take photos during the loading process to illustrate how your container was loaded. Not only does this help to show your customer that the goods are loaded and secured properly, but it also gives you a record to follow when you next load your container and helps build good practice. 

Successful container loading for peak seasons.

Once the container is fully loaded and the goods are secured take a final picture of the load, along with the container number and then seal it with the container seal provided and take a photo of the seal number. This gives you a full record that the shipment has been loaded and secured properly to send to your customers so that they are confident when buying from you.

Additionally, it also helps in the event of any potential insurance claim if anything unforeseen happens to your cargo during its journey such as theft, damage or loss. Insurance companies will require photos as proof of loading, including the container number and seal number. They will also need the collection/delivery notes to ensure these are signed, dated and checked properly. 

What happens if I haven’t got enough cargo for a Full Container Load (FCL)?

Of course, if you don’t have enough cargo to make up an FCL then there are Less than Container Load (LCL) consolidation services which Pinnacle can offer. However, as this increases the amount your cargo will be handled, please ensure that your cargo is well packed and is strong enough to be handled several times. Your cargo should be suitably packed so it can be loaded into a container along with other goods. Similarly, if time constraints do not allow for sea-freight options we have both premium and economy air freight services which may be of interest. 

Whatever your requirements are, Pinnacle is here to help you. We will recommend the right shipping container for your cargo, help you maximise your load and give you guidance on making sure it is loaded correctly. 
Alongside the freight, we can also offer consolidation and container loading services. Now, feel free to give us a call at 0845 6216 111 or drop us an email at for more information.

Tips to Optimise Container Loading Capacity

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