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Container Lifting

How To Choose The Right Container Handling Equipment

5 reasons not to choose traditional equipment

Bison Group

29 Jun 3 Minutes

Lifting, Logistics

In certain container shipping scenarios, using traditional container handling equipment such as a heavy forklift or straddle carrier may not be the most appropriate solution.

Here are five reasons why such equipment may not be necessary:

  • You handle a relatively low volume of containers on a daily or weekly basis.
  • The containers are processed and stored in a single location, eliminating the need to move or stack them.
  • Limited space is available at your site, rendering traditional container handling equipment impractical.
  • The ground surface at your facility is not reinforced and cannot withstand the weight of these machines.
  • Other factors may make using traditional container handling equipment less practical for your site.
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Consider the total cost of ownership

When considering purchasing traditional container handling equipment (CHE), the high price tag, ranging from $250,000 to a million dollars, can be a significant investment for small to medium-sized operations. However, the initial cost is only part of the equation. The total cost of ownership should also be considered, which includes:

  • High maintenance costs, particularly for tires and parts

  • The cost of training and certifying operators

  • The cost of hiring a trained and certified operator

  • The cost of reinforcing the site surface for the equipment to operate on

  • Fuel expenses

The yearly operating costs of a reach stacker, top loader, or mini straddle carrier can run into thousands of dollars, depending on the number of containers moved and the terms of the service agreement. However, the residual value of the CHE can partially offset these costs, as it can be resold on the second-hand market.

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The Container Hoist alternative

If you don't need a heavy-duty machine to handle your containers, a container hoist may be a viable alternative that could offer several benefits. Container hoists are a relatively recent development that fills a gap in the market for operations that require stuffing or stripping containers on the ground.

There are various equipment combinations and price options available, ranging from sites that handle only a few containers per month to those that manage up to 30 per day. For high-throughput operations, Bison's A Series C-Lifts are a great choice. They come in mobile and permanent hoist options. The mobile system can be easily relocated and set up, allowing containers weighing up to 32 tonnes (70,000 lb) to be placed in various locations. The permanent hoists are bolted to the ground in a dedicated container un/load area, reducing setup time and speeding up throughput.

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Get the right combination for your operation

To optimize your container handling operation, it's important to consider equipment combinations rather than just a single machine's functionality.

One combination that may work well for some operators is a Bison C-Lift paired with a forklift. With the C-Lift, you can lift fully loaded containers on or off a chassis at ground level, while the forklift can handle empty containers and lift them between the ground and chassis.

Another option for a regular flow of containers is having two permanent C-Lifts on site. For example, an exporter may receive an empty container from the port and collect a full container from another loading area, shuttling empties in and hauling full containers out of the site.


Smaller and medium-sized operators may find that traditional container handling equipment like reach stackers, top loaders, or mini straddle carriers are unnecessary and come with costly service agreements and operating costs.

Bison C-Lifts offer a more affordable alternative with excellent lifting capacity, view the range here on our website.