In colloquial language, we often use the term speak Chinese, which means that someone says or explains something in a way that the listeners do not understand. The same is true for shipping goods from China containers – for many people it is completely unknown, which has caused a lot of misunderstandings around it. However, it is worth knowing that this country is one of the world's largest exporters of goods, and the vast majority of products are transported in containers. So what does import from China look like? Myths and facts about this issue vary. In this article, we will explain some of them.
Imports from China in numbers
In 2022, the Middle Kingdom was, as in previous years, the largest exporter of goods in the world with an export value of over USD 3,5 trillion. The United States and the European Union are the most active recipients of goods produced in China. Transport containerized is the most popular form of transporting goods for both destinations, regardless of their type. Interestingly, although carrying containers sea remains the most popular form of transport, rail transport is gaining its supporters every year. According to UTLC ERA data (an organization associating railways: Kazakh, Russian and Belarusian operating on this trade route), throughout 2022, 410 TEU of goods were transported by trains from China to Europe. During this period, Chinese ports handled 603 million TEUs, or 220 million volume equivalent units container 20 feet.
Fact: Container transport is not only popular, but also profitable
The figures presented above therefore confirm the first common opinion about imports from China. The fact is that container transport (whether by sea or land) is the most popular method of transport because it is efficient and the most cost-effective.
The cost of transporting goods in containers is much lower than air freight or other means of transport. This is because one large-size container ship can deliver very large quantities of goods, which reduces the unit cost. In addition, China has a well-developed port infrastructure and a large number of container ships, which allows it to maintain competitive prices.
Myth: Container transport is only suitable for large goods and requires a minimum order quantity
Although container transport is associated with large shipments, it can also be used for smaller shipments. First, because there are different container sizes available, and many shipping companies offer groupage services (LCL) that allow importers to share one container with others, reducing the cost of transporting smaller shipments. This form of transporting goods also dispels another myth that imports from China require a minimum of logistics - if you can "divide" container with other ordering parties, the problem of having to order the amount of goods to fill the entire container disappears.
Fact: Container transport is safe
Container transport ensures a high level of safety of the transported goods, even in difficult weather conditions at sea. High-quality shipping containers produced by reputable manufacturers are made of durable steel and are not afraid of any weather conditions. It's worth knowing that everyone container intended for sea transport must meet ISO standards specifying minimum strength requirements. Importantly, it must also be built in accordance with the strict safety criteria of the International Convention for Safe Containers (CSC).
The base element of each container is a steel frame, which consists of corner posts as well as transverse and longitudinal beams. The structure must be strong enough to allow fully loaded containers to be stacked on top of each other. Therefore, the so-called transverse ribs the base of the floor. Long, 40-foot containers additionally have a special tunnel in the floor, the so-called tunnel. gooseneck, allowing to reduce the total height of the semi-trailer and container.
Tight walls, roof and floor
The walls of the containers are made of trapezoidal sheet metal, and the roofs are made of its profiled version with a thickness of about 2 mm. The entire structure is welded and undergoes demanding leak tests involving directing a stream of water at a pressure of 1 bar directly onto the roof and walls. This is followed by a check that all internal surfaces have remained dry.
An important element of the container is the floor, because forklifts with goods move on it during loading/unloading. It is made of special container plywood with a thickness of min. 25 mm or from boards.
The most common version of containers are those with doors located on the front wall, although models with doors on the long wall are also quite common. The tightness of the door is guaranteed by rubber gaskets. Standard for each set of closures container consists of: rods, bolts (bolt sockets are welded to the container frame), handles, clamps and, of course, customs seals.
Myth: Container shipping from China is bad for the environment
Of course, like any form of transport, the carriage of goods containers affects the natural environment. However, it is generally less harmful than other modes of transport, such as air freight or road transport. This is due, among other things, to the effect of scale: container ships are very large, they can transport many goods at the same time, which means they emit much less carbon dioxide per unit of cargo. Importantly, the transport containers themselves are also an ecological solution, because thanks to their durable construction, they can be used for many years, without a break between one transport of goods and another.
Fact: Container transport requires proper documentation and preparation
Shipping goods by container from China requires careful planning and preparation. You need to ensure not only the choice of a container from a proven manufacturer, but also find an experienced forwarder who will help you take care of the appropriate transport documents, customs clearance and all formalities. It is worth carefully verifying whether the transport container has all the standards and approvals. Failure to do so may result in delays, additional costs and even loss of goods.
Fact: container transport is the best way to import from China
Container transport is a reliable method of transport, safe and cost-effective. By choosing high-quality containers from experienced manufacturers and cooperating with reputable forwarding companies, there is no reason to worry. And the stories about the unreliability of this form of transport should be considered a myth.