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Selecting the Best Container Lock Solution


Shipping containers are widely used both for haulage and all manner of storage applications. In this post we look at why its important to pay attention to storage container security and the best container locks to use.

What is a Shipping Container?

We are all familiar with the ubiquitous shipping containers we see on our busy roads. These robust, cleverly designed steel boxes are now used to safely transport all manner of valuable cargo. But before these standardised containers were developed cargo was shipping in a variety of crates, boxes, pallets, barrels - or simply wrapped in cloth. These varied packaging techniques made to process of loading and unloading cargo ships complex, labour intensive, slow and expensive. They also meant that valuable cargo was often inadequately protected and susceptible to damage.

The invention of the modern shipping container is attributed to Malcolm McLean, a road haulier who started out as a truck driver. British traders had first used wooden containers, hauled by horses and trains, in the 1800s. Further advancement of this transportation technique took place in the second world war when the Australian US military developed the use of standardised containers to speed up their essential supply chains.

In 1952 Mr Malcolm McLean recognised the value in using standard sized boxes that could be readily loaded on and off ships and directly carried by haulage trucks. This led to the 1956 patent for the first ISO (International Standards Organisation) shipping container. The cleverly designed shipping containers were uniform in size and made from robust steel with reinforced corners that allowed the containers to be stacked without risk of damage.

The outbreak of the Vietnam war in the 1960s and the need to safely and quickly transport vast quantities of equipment to front line troops demonstrated the value of the container based system. Shipping containers were filled and sealed in the US, loaded onto ships and transported to ports where they were quickly loaded onto trucks and efficiently taken to where the equipment was needed. Empty containers were then used to transport valuable goods back from Japan, demonstrating the value of these robust, reusable transportation containers.

In 1968 the sizes of shipping containers were agreed and standardised under ISO 668. The most commonly used sizes today are the 20 foot (6.06m) and 40 foot (12.2m) containers we typically see on our roads. They are 8 feet (2.43m) wide and 8.5 feet (2.59m) tall. Other sizes are defined under the ISO standard but the 20ft and 40ft containers are the most common. A standard 20ft container has a capacity of 33.1 cubic metres - which is enough space for almost 100 household washing machines.

Shipping containers are built to marine specifications and manufactured from corrosion resistant Corten steel. They are protected with a coating of marine grade paint in a variety of colours and often feature logos or names of their operators. Importantly, they can be safely stacked and locked together using twistlocks that attach to the reinforced corners of the containers. This is the system that enables containers to be stacked on container ships, withstanding the rigours of long sea voyages.

Why Shipping Containers are Used as Storage Containers

The clever design of shipping containers means they are not only great for protecting valuable goods, transported on the high seas in arduous weather conditions, they are also ideal for all manner of storage needs.

Shipping containers are designed to be strong, long-lasting and capable of withstanding the worst weather conditions imaginable. This is one of the primary reasons they are great for storage. Another important reason is their portability. Standard sized shipping containers can be easily delivered and moved from one location to another whenever required.

Another important reason they make great storage containers is the fact they are made from steel and therefore resistant to rodents and bugs.

Common Uses for Storage Containers

Shipping containers are extensively used for secure onsite storage at construction sites. They provide convenient, secure storage for valuable tools and equipment as well as increasingly expensive building materials. These items are typical targets for opportunistic criminals making secure, vandal proof jopbsite storage vitally important.

Another common shoreside use for shipping containers is as mobile offices. Construction sites will often use shipping containers for their jobsite offices and they are also being commonly used at festival sites, sports events and carnivals. These ‘offices in a can’ are also proving to be invaluable as mobile command centres in various demanding disaster scenarios where the fact they can be easily transported and setup quickly is essential.

Temporary warehousing and overflow storage is another area in which storage containers are proving their worth. Supply chain challenges mean many businesses need increased storage space, beyond what’s available from their current industrial units. And if existing warehouse space is undergoing renovation shipping container storage is a viable, temporary alternative.

Schools and educational establishments are using shipping containers to safely store furniture, desks, chairs and sports apparatus along with groundskeeping equipment. These versatile storage containers provide an effective way and cost effective way to safeguard valuable equipment and furniture without the need to construct expensive extensions or additional buildings. 

Another important application for shipping containers is safely storing fireworks and other hazardous products. UK Trading Standards recommend that businesses use ISO approved shipping containers for the storage of fireworks or explosives. Containers for this safety-critical application are required to be robust, locked and located where members of the public don’t have access.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) has previously recommended that farmers should consider locking their valuable assets away inside shipping containers, rather than locking up machines and vehicles outside where they can be seen. A robust, locked shipping container not only presents a formidable barrier to thieves, it also conceals valuables from view. They recommend the use of further security measures including robust locks, perimeter security, CCTV and alarm systems.

How to Secure a Storage Container

As noted, shipping containers are ideal for all manner of storage needs, from building sites to farms and schools. While robust steel shipping containers are inherently highly secure its important to pay attention to how the container is locked, where its located and other important security considerations.

Shipping Container Padlocks

The lock used to secure the doors of a storage container is vitally important. An excellent example is the Squire WS75S Container lock, specifically designed for this important application.

Squire WS75S Container Lock
Squire WS75S Container Lock


This super tough high security padlock has been tested to the rigorous CEN 4 standard and approved by both Sold Secure and Secured by Design. It works with both old and new shipping container designs and is available with a range of useful keying options.

Squire WS75S Container Lock Details


The restricted key option prevents unauthorised key copying by issuing a unique security card with each lock. Approved locksmiths require this card to be produced before they will cut additional keys.

The protected key option provides a further level of key-copying security as additional keys cannot be cut by locksmiths and can only be cut by Squire, who have the required key blanks (which are never issued to locksmiths.)

Here’s what some of our customers have said about these outstanding locks:

Great lock for a great price

Steve L.

Really happy with the service I received from Insight. Package delivered promptly and properly, website easy to use, and the lock works exactly as it should.

Carina Alcock

Great, sturdy locks and super efficient service, as always, from Insight Security


Storage Container Location

Ideally, secure storage containers should be located inside a secure perimeter. This is vitally important if storage containers are used for hazardous contents, such as explosives. Physical perimeter security including effective fencing, walls and locked gates along with anti-climb protection, is always extremely valuable.

In situations where a storage container can`t be fenced in it`s important to be aware that criminals have been known to steal entire containers. Large rocks or earth embankments can be used to inhibit access.

Its worth remembering that criminals like to work unseen so security lighting is a valuable deterrent wherever a storage container is located. CCTV is another valuable precaution to consider, alongside appropriate warning signage.

Security Alarms for Storage Containers

Alarm systems that raise an alert if a storage container is being attacked are another beneficial security precaution. These can be simple door alarms, which are effective when a storage container is located close to a home, or more sophisticated alarms that automatically send alerts to a mobile phone. Visible alarm systems and warning signage can deter criminals from attempting to break in.

If you have any questions about storage container security and which options are appropriate for your needs, remember we are here to help. Give us a call on 01273 475500 and we’ll provide you with free, expert advice.

This message was added on Thursday 20th April 2023

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