Used parts loading is completely different process compared to any other car auto parts. The main reason for it is the engines weight. While any new cars part can be lifted by one or the most two workers, the heaviest are usually hoods for old Mercedes and BMW’s, which is two-man job. Even one worker can easily lift everything else, such as bumpers, fenders, radiator supports, all kind of boxes with engine parts, suspension and steering. Used engines is whole different story, since using a forklift is the only way to move them and it is far more dangerous to load them. Anyway, here is what we do.
Usually, we load two complete layers of engines from container tail to the gate, and put 5-10 engines on the third layer to the tail and the same number of used engines to the gate. Why not put all engines to the tail and keep more space at the gate? The weight-balancing requirement is the reason. As much as we hate it, it is a common requirement of all major ports and railway station around the worlds. Not only we have to stay within the weight limits, which we will talk later, but also the weight must be distributed evenly within the container, so it won’t tilt towards tail or gate side while being lifted by port crane. Moreover, the tricky part about weight distribution – once you made a decision how to do it, you cannot change it. In other words, if you put too many or too few used engines to the tail parts, there is no way to adjust this number as the loading goes further and further to the gate side. The container is 12 meters long and no crane can reach the engines at the tail to add more or take some out. So it takes a lot of experience to evaluate all used engines before loading and predict how they loading would go: how many small engines (usually inline 4 front-wheel drive engines are considered to be small), how many middle size (V6 type front-wheel drive), how many long engines (rear wheel drive both inline 4, inline 6, V6 and even V8), how many irregular engines (such as with 4WD transmission or rear-wheel drive with very long transmission or some very fragile head gasket) and so on and so on. All these factors must be taken into account before the loading, so the one in charge has to make the right “guess”. Roughly speaking, the only layer of used engines in 40 container can hold about 40 to 44 engines of mixed sizes.
Now, the weight distribution issue is clear, how do we decided the total number of used engines to be loaded. That is more simple and strait forward – the weight limit guides the total numbers engines and other parts to be loaded.
We weigh every used engines, used gearbox, used scooter and so on, and once we do it for 5-7 similar items, than we can calculate the average weight. For items sold as sets, such as nose cut, we weigh each parts separately and then sum up. The nose cut consists of front car cut (including radiator support and surrounding frame, head lights, front bumper, side lamps if any, radiator, condenser and fans), and many separate parts, which are hood, two fenders, rear bumper, rear tail lamps and inner tail lamps in a trunk.
The weight limit for 20’ is usually 20 tons and for 40HQ is about 26 tons. If might be OK to add 1-2 tons more, but the heavier it goes above the limit the more chances of being caught at the any ports or trans-loading hubs during the shipment. Most of the customers prefer shipping in 40HQ since the ocean freight and other delivery expenses are not much different for 20’ and 40’ containers. While the main restrain for 20’ container is the space (which means that when container is completely stuffed from bottom to the top, you are usually still below the weight limit), the key limitation for 40’HQ is the weight. Therefore, when loading engines only, we usually have 1/3 of space still empty while is weight limit is reached. Hence, it is highly recommended to add other used car parts, which are bulky but not heavy, such as nose cuts, leather seats, alloy rims and so on, so that weight the container will be completely loaded up to the weight limit and stuff up to all space available.
In case, you wonder why all container floors look like nice sandy beaches…. Well, sadly it is far from the sand, while our warehouse is not far from the beach 🙂 That sand-alike stuff on the floor is a wooden dust, which is extensively used to absorb any possible oil leaks. Even though we do leak engine oil and gearbox oil from all used engines entering our warehouse, it is commonly known that all oil can be leaked out only if the oil pan is taken off, which would be too much unnecessary work. We simply unscrew the oil nuts from engine and gearbox and drain as much oil as possible pushing engines back and forth, left and right. Obviously, some oil is still left and there is a change it will leak after used engines are loaded into container. Even if it happens, the wooden dust on the floor will prevent oil from going further thru the container floor. There is nothing dangerous about leaking oil, but customs officers will not agree with you on that and in case of any oil leak noticed by port or railroad staff, the container will be stopped immediately. There are several possible scenarios (putting container on hold until it stops leaking, issue a fine to consignee before letting it go or even in worst cases to require a complete unloading of goods) but not of them would make importer and exporter happy. So it takes just 3-4 bags of wooden dust to avoid these possible huge problems and …. makes the pictures look nice too.