Problem Solving: Container Stands

This case study provides insight into the process involved with understanding problems and constraints with current industry practices. Following this process the equipment was completely redesigned with a purposely engineered solution, improving safety standards within empty container repair facilities.

Defining the problems

In my roles I’ve had the opportunity to visit empty container parks and witness the current industry practices. One item that took my interest is the simple ‘A-frame trestle container stand’ which is commonly used to raise containers for inspection and repair. Constructed from square hollow section (SHS) steel they are pretty sturdy, however, with an absence of safe working load limit certification, it is difficult to be sure of their rating.

As can be seen there is very little cross-bracing, and a knock from mobile equipment could easily shift the weight distribution and exceed the operating capacity to buckle or tip over the stand. Would you want to be underneath or nearby when this type of accident occurs?

20ft container stands
20′ container stands

The 40′ container stands are constructed from a larger SHS steel. The problem with this arrangement is that two stands are required for every container, in a combination of 20′ and 40′ types – Problem 1

40ft container stand
40′ container stand

The client brief described limited space for operating maintenance and repair (M&R). If using the separate container stands shown, they would require a larger area available, and to constantly rearrange them into position, which would be a significant waste of resource time – Problem 2

Another issue is that a 20′ stand areas needs to be completely reconfigured to accept 40′ containers. The width of mobile equipment are typically too wide to get between 20′ stand, due to their ‘A-frame’ design. Each time the stands need to be reconfigure, small forklifts are required, which introduces further risk of unchecked damage – Problem 3

Container stands can only accommodate one container at a time. The client required a flexible solution that could accommodate both 20′ and 40′ container simultaneously – Problem 4

Problems / Challenges

To recap on the issues identified:

  1. Two stands for every container, a lot of equipment that is lightweight and prone to damage.
  2. Separate stands require constant reconfiguration for different container sizes.
  3. Reconfiguration with a forklift increases likelihood of unchecked damage to stands.
  4. Separate stands only accommodate one container at a time.


Design and fabricate an engineered solution that would allow container handling equipment to continuously exchange multiple 20′ and 40′ containers without the need of reconfiguration of container stands.


The idea was to build larger stands which could to accommodate two x 20’/40′ containers simultaneously, whilst remaining movable for flexible operations. The A-frame issues were negated by introducing a concrete counterweight to prevent tip over. This means the stands can be positioned further apart, leaving a gap for container handling equipment to drive between.

New container stands for two x 20’/40′

With this solution the mobile equipment wheel tracks are between span of the stands, so they do not never need to be reconfigured. The stands also weigh significantly more, so are less susceptible to movement from knocks and bumps during normal operational use.


This solution is fully engineered and certified. M&R employees were far more comfortable working underneath containers to conduct repairs, and resource time was not wasted moving and re-configuring stands. This solution significantly reduced risks to business, including reduce equipment damage and personal injuries.