What is Chassis

What is Chassis – A Comprehensive Guide

Often, shipping containers can be complex, particularly where different container sizes are used.

In most instances, such containers require towing vehicles and trailers owing to their dimensions regarding length and width.

In this article, we’ll discuss all fundamental elements regarding container chassis.

This will enable you to understand its significance and essence in the shipping industry.

Meaning of Chassis in Shipping?

A chassis refers to a special trailer or undercarriage used for transporting different types of ocean container over the road.



Chassis for container

Chassis for container

You can also describe it as a wheeled structure designed to carry various types of marine containers.

The essence here is to truck movement between terminals, warehouses and shipping facilities.

A chassis is majorly composed of a simple electromechanical device that features a steel frame, tires, lighting system, suspension and brakes.

Modern chassis come with additional features such as ABS, weight sensors, GPS tracking systems and LED lights among others.

In most countries, such as the U.S container chassis are designed to fit specific container sizes.

Standard designs transport standard ISO containers, which are 20ft and 40ft.

This electromechanical device also has two axles, but this may vary from one country to another.

In general, chassis logistics tend to be a uniquely prominent issue at various ports in different countries.

Nevertheless, it is also necessary to note that government laws on transportation sector regulate the use of container chassis.

Different Types of Container Chassis

Container chassis come in various types.

The varieties of this device are based on a wide range of variables, which include the following;

a) Fixed or Adjustable Chassis Length

Some of the common types of chassis in respect to length include the following;

  • 20ft container chassis
  • 40ft-45ft container chassis
  • 48ft-53ft container chassis

b) Number of Axles

Here are the types of container chassis based on the number of axles

  • 2-axles container chassis
  • 3-axle container chassis
  • 4- axles container chassis
  • 5- axle container chassis

c) Ability to Accommodate Multiple Container Configurations

In terms of design and configuration here are some of the common types you are likely to come across;

  • Heavy-duty chassis
  • Light-weight chassis
  • Gooseneck chassis
  • Combo chassis
  • Straight frame chassis
  • Flatbed container chassis
  • Extendable chassis
  • Straight frame chassis
  • Canadian chassis

Generally, the marine container chassis are often built to have fixed sizes and support specific container sizes.

U.S container chassis is relatively lightweight compared to other countries.

It is as a result of standard national gross vehicle weight of 80,000 lbs on inter-state highways as ratified by the U.S government.

Basic Specifications of Container Chassis

Container chassis are available in a variety of shapes and sizes.

However, there are fundamental systems and components you’ll always find in each of these devices.

Such elements are vital when it comes to determining the specific trailer to buy or lease.

This is, nonetheless, dependent on your needs and regulations set by the responsible authorities.

Some of the basic defining specifications and characteristics of a container chassis include the following;

Shipping container chassis

Shipping container chassis

· Size

Container chassis come in a variety of sizes. Standard sizes accommodate 20ft and 40ft containers.

You can also find those designed to carry 45ft containers.

These could be the ideal fit if you need to take up more cargo, especially if the law in your country allows it.

· Axles

Axle configuration on container chassis come in different forms.

However, the most common ones are two and three axles.

The maximum weight of a standard 40f container is 25 tons, but a Two-axle can hold up to 30 tons.

Another possibility is customizing a three-axle container chassis to suit different demands.

All these and many more options are always available depending on your specific needs.

· Load Capacity

The load capacity for most container chassis often ranges between 20-40 tons.

If you have relatively heavy cargo, you may need to consider the 40-ton option.

Even so, the 20-ton chassis would still be sufficient for most containers you would want to transport.

Always consider this as an important aspect when choosing the most appropriate container chassis for your needs.

· Design

Generally, container chassis design construction features high strength material given its applications and usage.

The design construction is robust and built to enable you to obtain the services you require many challenges.

Moreover, the fabrication is done through approved quality welding methods to ensure the trailer meets the required quality standards.


You need to confirm the laws and regulations concerning the chassis tire-configuration permissible in your country.

Some countries allow the single tire option only.

In that aspect, it implies it requires reasonable distribution of tires for the trailer if at all, it is the only available option.

Models of Container Chassis

In principle, the designs for container chassis are based on various elements, including application.

Each design of this device is drawn from the desired transportation as where it shall specifically be used.

It thus guides you on the ideal container chassis you need to consider when buying or leasing.

Here are the common container chassis models you are likely to find in the industry today;

1) Common Trailer

It is a relatively simple fixed structure with less sophistication use for carrying and transporting containers.

The framework is designed from steel material.

It is the surface where the containers are loaded and unloaded using overhead cranes.

You can use to transport containers of varied sizes including 20ft, 40ft and 45ft.

Common chassis comes with well-marked positions indicating where you can place the container.

This also makes it easy to secure the container and consequently, getting it to its respective destination safely.

This model of container chassis is easy to use and relatively affordable.

Even so, you’ll require auxiliary equipment like overhead cranes to load and unload the containers from the chassis.

2) Tilt Container Chassis

An outstanding feature of tilt container chassis is its mechanism facilitating easy unloading of containers.

In essence, it comes with a different framework from the common and other types of container chassis.

Tilt container chassis features additional modifications to the conventional chassis trailer models.

Principally, this chassis model comprises of upper and lower frames attached by a mechanism of pivot device.

This arrangement hardly requires any external equipment for offloading cargo from the container.

Primarily, this chassis is fitted with a hydraulic system on the upper platform, which facilitates the offloading process.

The system essentially, makes the trailer to tilt upwards hence offloading the cargo.

Of course, these convenience features come at additional cost. But the expediency it offers is worth it.

Moreover, the tilt container chassis comes with a hydraulic lifting cylinder contracting longitudinally hence facilitating easy loading.

On the other hand, they extend in an outward technique to enhance the offloading process.

3) Extendable Container Chassis

This is a versatile container chassis hence can adapt to various container sizes.

Its function is similar to the load positioning chassis.

However, you can easily extend it at the back to take up a relatively big container compared to its contracted position.

In simple words, container chassis can either be short or long depending on prevailing operation demands.

It is an ideal choice to pick when your operations involve varying container lengths.

You can always adjust this chassis with already available mechanisms to facilitate platform creation of varied sizes for different containers.

Always have a greater chassis length than container or size load as you make adjustments to the container chassis.

The structure of this chassis is ideal for transporting sealed containers across different countries.

The reason is that it is easier to make adjustments, which meets the respective local standards set for it.

This type of chassis also provides adequate room for transporting containers safely.

When loading the frame must be positioned at the bed center. This helps in keeping the entire chassis in a balanced and stable position.

It is always easier to load containers covering almost the whole length of the bed than one which does not.

Thus it is necessary to have this factor in mind when making necessary adjustments to the chassis.

Differences Between Ocean Container Chassis and Domestic 53’ Intermodal Container Chassis

Domestic intermodal container is also known as a domestic container.

It is a type of container filled with freight moving between different terminals via railroad and not waterborne service.

Technically, domestic containers are comparatively longer than ocean containers. The standard length of the former is 53ft.

Moreover, the domestic container is designed to a lighter tare weight standard hence can accommodate more products.

In the U.S for instance, construction of domestic and ocean container chassis is ideally the same.

The notable difference in these two types of chassis is usually the length and weight.

Intermodal container chassis weighs between 500-700lbs more than the ocean container chassis, which weight about 6500 lbs.

The weight difference is ostensibly occasioned by the increased length of 53ft in the domestic container chassis.

Moreover, almost all 53ft domestic chassis have a “slider mechanism, which allows the axle bogie to shift forward and backwards.

This makes it possible to alter the overall weight distribution as well as turning radius when travelling on local roads.

Ocean and domestic container chassis are never interchangeable.

The standard 40ft ocean container chassis is shorter hence cannot support the 53ft domestic container.

Another notable difference between these two types of container chassis is the expected operating life.

If well maintained an ocean container chassis may last up to more than 20 years excluding any major refurbishment.

On the other hand, the 53ft domestic chassis has a life span of slight above 15 years.

Technically, domestic container chassis is designed to the lightest hence relatively less durable compared to ocean container chassis.

Ideally, this trade-off was deliberately created to enable domestic container chassis to compete directly with 53ft trucks for domestic commerce.

Importance of Container Chassis in Shipping

structural design of shipping container chassis

Structural design of shipping container chassis

Container shipping has demonstrated outstanding significance in the overall shipping process.

Here are some of the reasons why this device is integral in shipping;

· Durability

Of course, the components of a chassis are designed from relatively lightweight but hardy materials.

The artistry, as well as the overall design construction and fabrication, are also top-notch.

All these factors guarantee unmatched durability.

The importance is it enables you to save on replacement and repair costs.

· Enhances Customer Satisfaction

Shipping of containers is a safe and swift process.

In essence, this helps in increasing reliability as well as enhancing the overall customer experience and satisfaction.

· Flexibility

Container chassis is available in different varieties depending on the specific needs.

This makes it easy for you to select from the various options based on your specific demands and preferences.

· Cost-effective

The solid construction of container chassis makes it possible to load several containers at a go.

This makes the process relatively quick and cost-effective since you’ll be consolidating the shipments.

Ultimately, this allows you to cut cost and preventing unnecessary extra charges.

· Smooth and Secure Shipping

Containers are often securely attached to the respective chassis.

This helps in preventing unnecessary container movements while in-transit.

This ensures safer and convenient transportation.

How to Select the Right Container Chassis

There are several elements to factor in when looking for a chassis, whether to buy or rent.

However, this depends on your business requirements.

Some of the critical factors to consider include the following;

· Number of Axles/Weight Threshold

The weight of your cargo plays a critical role in determining the number of axles in the chassis.

Technically, the more the axles, the heavier the load the chassis can hold effectively.

· Usage and Requirements

You must also factor in the industry-specific needs for the chassis you are buying or renting.

If your needs revolve around transporting containers only you should go chassis structured specifically for containers.

However, if your operations revolve around other types of shipment, you should consider going for a flatbed container trailer.

If most of your operations include frequent loading and unloading the best choice would be a tilt chassis.

· Cost Incurred

Typically, specialized chassis tend to be relatively expensive compared to regular ones.

Therefore, you need to factor in the specifications of your container and requirements before picking either specialized or regular chassis.

Buying or renting is also a cost factor you must have in mind. It also adds to the final shipping costs.

· Chassis Equipment Issues

It is always important for the driver to inspect the chassis’ condition once the container is mounted on it.

Nonetheless, some of the common elements to always look into in container chassis include the following;

Landing gear – Ensure the chassis landing gear is intact, straight and can easily crank up and down. There is a possibility of a landing gear bending or jamming.

Twist locks–All the four twist-locks, which secure the container corners of the chassis, must be operable. These are relatively robust assemblies but at times are usually damaged or jammed.

Brakes – Typically, chassis air brakes and must apply and release accordingly once hooked to the tractor. However, it is also advisable for the driver to carry simple tools for adjusting brake shoe on the spot.

Tires – Ordinarily, a 40ft chassis has eight tires all that must have enough inflation and thread depth.  A normal approach is to thump the tires using a heavy metal bar for a rough check.

Lights – Ensure the container chassis lights and lenses are all intact and operate correctly. In most cases, lenses are often set into the rear bumper for protection, but they are still exposed to damage.

The trailer connectors must also be in great condition.

Structure – The overall container chassis structure should be in perfect conditions without any damage, twisting or horizontal misalignment.

It is also possible for chassis structure to get damaged when stored or stacked in the terminals.

Mudflaps – Mud flaps must be present and in a perfect condition such that the driver won’t be cited on the road.

License, registration and inspection tags – for road services chassis needs to have a current license and registration stickers.

It is necessary to ensure all other relevant stickers are also up to date.

Chassis usage Charge

The container usage fee is one of the additional charges incurred while transporting cargo.

Before 2022, carriers owned and provided chassis alongside the containers.

However, the moment MAERSK exited the container chassis business; other players also followed suit.

The result forced many trucking companies to buy or lease their chassis and consequent additional charge.

The chassis usage fee varies depending on a wide range of prevailing factors.

Some of these factors include; consolidation fees, terminal handling fees and congestion surcharge, among others.

Nevertheless, the main charge of chassis is dependent on the demurrage and detention fees.

In many ports, it is quite difficult to get chassis since due to congestion.

It thus results in longer waiting time and subsequent higher demurrage and detention fees.

This also leads to increased overhead costs.

Renting this device often range between $15-30 per day, although it is not exclusive.

Ways of Mitigating Container Chassis Challenges

There are numerous approaches to reducing or preventing container chassis challenges. Some of these measures include the following;

a) Adoption of technology – In many instances, establishing suitable systems makes it easy to reduce the common problems notable with container chassis.

Adopting a practical use of technology is essential in streamlining the activities and other different aspects of container chassis.

For instance, digitizing thus element by developing a platform for tracking, reserving, allocating, and forecast chassis usage.

This enhances efficiency and accuracy when billing.

b) Trucker ownership of chassis–Another ideal measure is purchasing your container chassis. Owning chassis with high-quality elements such as LED lights and radial tires helps in ting many issues.

Technically, it makes it easy to ensure frequent maintenance schedule hence keeping the chassis in great condition always.

Moreover, ownership of this device also helps in cutting cost.

c) Greater investment in IEPs – Most of the Intermodal Equipment Providers (IEPs) are offering better and quality equipment.

Most of these IEPs provide premium programs in different degrees with either new or re-fabricated chassis.

An Ideal Place to get Container Chassis Services

In most cases, the freight forwarders offering containers also provide container chassis and related services.

Moreover, they provide such services at relatively affordable rates, which makes it easier to rent or buy depending on your needs.

And as always Bansar has got your back.

All you need is to type in your location. You’ll then need to choose a suitable container then get work done faster.

Bansar always offers these services at affordable rates, thus making it possible for you to save quite a significant amount.

How Ports are Enhancing availability of Chassis

In many ports, the demand for container chassis continues to grow.

This makes it difficult to find the types of chassis that suits your needs, whether for hire or purchasing.

However, most ports are putting measures in place to ensure there is a steady availability of container chassis.

One of the measures is encouraging private chassis business.

This makes it possible for any able entrepreneur to purchase and avail their container chassis to the ports.

To a great extent, this approach is quite efficient and has contributed significantly to increasing chassis availability at the ports.

The other measure is filing plans with relevant authorities seeking to create own chassis pools.

This approach makes it possible to ensure the ports hardly run out of container chassis.

Loading container on a chassis

Loading container on a chassis

As you can see from this guide container chassis is an integral element in accomplishing the shipping process.

And if you are involved in imports and exports it is quite apparent you’ll need to use a container chassis trailer.

You can always choose the ideal container chassis based on weight and cargo you are transporting.

The large variety of these devices in terms of design and size makes it easy for you to choose the perfect one for your goods.

In case you have any inquiries regarding container chassis, feel free to contact us.

We will assist you with the relevant information accordingly.

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