Shipping containers are built to keep out all wind and water when carrying cargo across the ocean, so their doors need to close as tightly as possible. As a result, container doors have a few nuances that might seem challenging if you have never used one before.
We want to make using the storage container you rent, buy, or modify as seamless as possible. Knowing how to open and close Conex containers correctly is essential for keeping you and other people safe from injury, your contents secure and your unit in top working condition.
Learn how to open and close a shipping container the right way by following the simple steps we’ve outlined for you in this article. Whether it’s your first time using a storage container for sale or lease, or you need a refresher because you only use your custom container for experiential events, you can return to this guide whenever you need it.
How to Open a Storage Container
Step 1: Unlock Any Locks
- Unlock and remove your puck lock, also known as a disc lock, from the slide bolt on the right door.
- Unlock and remove the padlock from the lockbox on the left door.
- Unlock and remove any other padlocks on the tabs of the handles of the locking bars on both doors.
Step 2: Open the Right Door
- Always open a storage container by starting with the door on your right when you face the unit from the outside.
- Pull the slide bolt handle to the right.
- Reach down and flip the tabs on the locking bar handles up. Some cargo doors will only have one bar and handle, but many will have two.
- While standing directly in front of it, grab the locking bar handles on the door and pull them towards you so that the handles are sticking out about 90 degrees from the door.
- Pull backwards on the handles simultaneously to remove the locking bars from the cam latches, also known as knuckles, located on the bottom and top of the unit. Let go of the handles and let them hang. Doors with two handles will need to have both pulled at the same time to open.
- Use the bar on the inside of the door to swing it all the way open.
Step 3: Open the Left Door
- Just like you did on the first door, flip the tabs on locking bar handles of the left door up.
- Look inside the container at the bottom right corner of the door to locate the cane bolt and spring latch. Lift up and turn the cane bolt to the right, putting it in the open position.
- Grab the locking bar handles on the outside of the door and pull towards you like you did with the other door.
- Pull backwards on the handles simultaneously to remove the locking bars from the cam latches. Let go of the handles.
- Open the door.
How to Close a Shipping Container
Step 1: Close the Left Door
- Always close a shipping container by starting with the door on your left.
- Look at the cane bolt on the bottom right corner of the inside of the door and ensure it is in the open position.
- Pull the locking bar handles on the outside of the metal container away from the door towards you.
- Push the cargo door closed, adjusting the locking bar handle position as needed to align the corresponding cam latches and bars. You will have to align the locking bars and latches perfectly to close it.
- Push the handles to the left so they rest against the container in the locked position.
- Flip the tabs on the locking bars down.
- Turn the cane bolt inside the container to the left until it drops into its designated hole.
Step 2: Close Right Door
- Pull the locking bar handles up and away from the door towards you.
- Use the handles to push the steel container door closed, adjusting your handle position as needed to align the bottom cam latches and bars perfectly.
- Push the handles to the right so they rest against the container in the locked position.
- Flip the tabs on the locking bars down.
- Push the slide bolt to the left.
Step 3: Secure Your Storage Container
- Place a puck lock on the slide bolt tab and lock it.
- Place a pad lock in the lock box and lock it.
- Place any other padlocks you want on one or more of the locking bar tabs and lock them.
Tips for How to Open and Close Your Storage Container
Now that you know how to properly open and close the ISO containers you rent, buy or modify, here are a few extra precautions you can take to preserve your safety and your unit’s condition.
- Always open the doors one at a time, starting with the one on the right. Otherwise, they will not open or may get jammed in the middle.
- Pull the doors open slowly while using the strength of your legs to ensure you do not injure your back, neck, or shoulders.
- Ensure the container is placed on a level surface so the floor does not warp, and the doors will be able to close properly.
- Notice any unusual resistance or pressure on the door or sounds of moving objects when you open your storage container. It could be a sign that your content shifted during transportation and may fall when you open it.
Watch our video to see each step of opening and closing a shipping container you rent, buy or modify in action. Be sure to let us know in the comments what other container tutorials you would like to see and subscribe to our channel for more helpful insights.