Shipping Container Locks

Cargo placed in shipping containers spend extended periods of time unsupervised in insecure areas. Hence, in almost all instances of container freight, there is a lock in place that prevents unauthorized access to the box’s contents.

Securing your container with a lock is one of the best practices related to container security and safety. It helps (to a significant degree) ensure that no one without authorization can go through your items unsupervised. Depending on your insurance, it might even be a requirement.

Let’s take a look at what kind of options business owners have when it comes to protecting their shipment with locks. Basically, there are five different types of locks they can opt for.

We will now take a look at each of them in detail.

Container Padlocks

This is the classic lock used on most containers for security purposes. Many manufacturers sell these types of locks with a matching set of keys.

It looks like a steel lock designed in U-shape so that it fits into the loop of the lockbox on the container. This provides an added layer of security as the padlock has to be opened to access the lockbox to open the container. However, there are containers that do not have a lockbox. In such a case, other alternative fixtures would usually be available such as the weld-on lock or the bolt-on lock.

Crossbar Container Locks

This is a popular option for securing containers. These locks are made out of tubular steel and look like an extendable clamp that is attached to the door of the container(or in some cases on the door handles). A lock is used to securely fasten the clamp in place and stop the door from opening.

One reason for the popularity of these locks is that they offer protection against lock picks and bolt cutters. One can also opt for custom extensions for the bars to suit his/her needs. Typically, manufacturers create these types of locks with like-keys.

Truck Seals

These are a form of low-level security for containers that do not cost much. These are mostly made out of plastic and are mostly intended to stop the doors from releasing or opening by themselves. Their main purpose might not be to prevent unauthorized usage but they can still be used for that purpose in low-risk environments.

Hidden Shackle Container Padlocks

The hidden shackle padlocks provide an extra layer of protection in comparison with simple padlocks. They are easy to use and protect against the usual tampering tools such as bolt-cutters. If you have a high-value shipment or want a high level of security for any reason, this is the go-to lock. In order to mount these locks on the containers, you will need to order matching hasps. Some welding work may also be required, depending on the design of the container.

Roll Door Container Lock Boxes

A roll-up door on the container can offer an added level of security or your goods. You can then secure such a door using a simple padlock. However, for extra security, you also have the option of using a lockbox that is specifically designed for roll-up doors on containers. These lockboxes come in different designs so you can choose one that suits your needs the best.

Using any of the above five types of locks, you can secure your goods and ensure the risks of tampering or stealing are kept as low as possible. As already mentioned, these locks can play an important role when it comes to insurance for your shipment. However, if a thief is given enough time, he/she will find a way to access your cargo regardless of what locks you use. For example, if a thief had the luxury of time, he/she could use basic tools to cut through the hinges on 1 end of the container doors, help himself to the contents then re-weld the doors. the receiver would be none the wiser until the doors are opened to reveal and empty container.

However, if a thief is given enough time, he/she will find a way to access your cargo regardless of what locks you use. Hence, insurance is vital for high value cargo.

Some Tips on Truck and Container Security

  • If you only intend to use a padlock to protect your shipment, it is a great idea to opt for the concealed shackle padlock or something that works in a similar way. Padlocks are susceptible to bolt-cutters or saws but if they are concealed, the attacker has no way of reaching the part that needs to be cut off. This should protect you from the ‘random thief’ who is only looking for an easy entry into any container to try his luck and find something useful.
  • When buying a new lock, make sure you know the type of container the lock will be used on. There is no point buying a lock and then finding out it cannot be fitted onto the container. So double-check the dimensions!
  • Remember that one major reason for using a lock is to make the job of opening the container harder for the thief. All kinds of locks are susceptible to attacks but if a lock is known to take more time or effort, thiefs will generally avoid it and go for easier targets. Therefore, a lock that requires a lot of time and effort in breaking can act as a very good deterrent against random burglaries.
  • You can also consider keeping an eye on your shipping container. This can mean fitting it with motion detectors in case the container is moved unexpectedly. Installing cameras outside and even inside the containers might also not be a bad idea. Make sure though that these cameras have night vision capabilities and are not easily damaged by equipment used to move container cargo.
  • You can use multiple types of locks to secure your container. If a thief realizes he has to break two locks instead of one, he/she is more likely to move on and find something easier to break into.

Closing & Locking the Container’s Door:

  • Close the left-side door first.
  • When closing the door, ensure that the locking bars are aligned next to the lock keepers so that they align when the door is closed.
  • Twist both the handles after you’ve engaged the cams and the keepers.
  • Close the locking lapses by placing the handles in their respective mounts.
  • Do the same for the right-side door.
  • The lock shackle can now be slid on to the locking bar.
  • Turn or open the locking bar.

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