Sustainable steel floors

Minor differences can bring major benefits. The usage of containers with steel floors is going up – and not only for higher payloads and for added safety with special cargo. Developed by Hapag-Lloyd a few years ago, this solution is also eco-friendlier and more hygienic. As a result, the steel floor is increasingly in demand for many transport goods, such as coffee and clothing.


All types of goods can be transported with enhanced safety in our steel floor containers. In addition to having no chemical additives, they are longer-lasting and less prone to need repairs than containers with wooden or bamboo floors. Hapag-Lloyd came up with the idea for these sustainable steel floor containers several years ago. They were added to the permanent portfolio of containers in 2013, initially mainly in the 20-foot standard and special container categories.

The steel floor containers are now increasingly in demand. Last year, Hapag-Lloyd added another 12,000 TEU of them to its container fleet. As a result, they now account for 40 percent of the total fleet of open top containers. Containers with exclusively bamboo floors now account for the smallest share, while containers with wood-bamboo hybrid floors continue to account for the largest share. However, Hapag-Lloyd now regards these hybrid floors as merely a temporary solution, as they carry a lower maximum payload, are heavier themselves and are more expensive to dispose of. This means that steel floor containers are the future of containers.

Stable and safe …

“Much larger point loads can be loaded into steel floor containers per running metre, which makes them particularly attractive for heavy goods like machines,” explains David Piel, Senior Manager for Special Cargo at Hapag-Lloyd. By way of comparison, a 20-foot wooden floor container can load 4.6 tonnes per metre, but a steel floor container of equal size can load 7.6 tonnes per metre. And the difference is even greater with a 40-foot containers, as the ones with wooden floors can withstand a load of three tonnes per metre and the ones with steel floors can bear twice as much. “What’s more, there are a lot more lashing points than in a typical container, which makes securing your load even easier and more efficient,” David Piel adds. “Securing cargo is just as easy, if not easier, and faster with a steel floor container than with a wooden floor container.”

Cargo securing takes place in accordance with the CTU Code Of Practice. The official guideline of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) can be downloaded free of charge in several languages.

… as well as clean, odourless and recyclable

The steel floor containers can also be cleaned in such a way that they can be reloaded with new, even sensitive goods – such as food or clothing – without having any residues from previous loadings and with virtually no odours. Steel floor containers are therefore increasingly requested by customers from the coffee industry, among others. “Unlike wooden floors, steel does not absorb any odours or liquids resulting from possible leaks”, explains David Piel. “And the slightly wavy shape of the floor also prevents the cargo from sitting in any moisture if liquids have escaped or if condensation has formed.” What’s more, the fact that the container floors are made of steel makes them more durable and fully recyclable.

Hapag-Lloyd is continuing its process of transitioning from wood-bamboo hybrid floors to steel floors, and views this as a long-term project. But this will first require some changes in the supplier market, including the addition of more production capacities.

This article is shared by courtesy of Hapag-Lloyd. If you would like to know more about the Steel Floor Containers you can find more information in the Steel Floor brochure which can be downloaded below.

Download Brochure

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