If you hang out with shipping container engineers, builders, designers or startups, inevitably you will hear the conversations start to involve a wide range of acronyms including ANSI, NIST, ISO, IMO, BIC and usually CSC.
CSC is an abbreviation for the International Convention for Safe Containers. The Convention incorporates a series of design requirements (e.g., very precise dimensions at each corner of the container so that equipment that lifts and moves containers can always find the holes in each corner casting), minimum functionality and weather tightness plus various measurements of capacity, weight and resistance to the amazing forces that containers receive while underway at sea on ships or on land with trains and trucks. The purpose of the Convention is to insure that containers are safe and consistently built. The taxonomy for the standards that are the basis for CSC testing is complicated and involves the United Nations, the International Maritime Organization, the International Standards Organization, various national standards organizations (e.g. ANSI and NIST in the USA) and a structured set of committees and working groups that focus on specific design or use issues.
If you want to design, build and operate a shipping container (or have someone else own and operate a shipping container based on your design that is going to transit multiple countries using multiple means of transport) the container will need to have a ‘CSC Plate’ based on a CSC Certificate – a metal plate affixed to the container that indicates that the container passed certain tests (or re-tests), met certain minimum standards for capacity, weight and resistance to forces and was subsequently issued a four digit alpha code from a group in France called BIC – Bureau International des Containers et du Transport Intermodal – that is used to identify the container owner and its intended scope of use. (E.g. for Staxxon, our prototype test and trial containers were issued the BIC registration code STXU where the U means our design is approved for global, intermodal use.)
With the CSC plate, certificate and rating plus the BIC registration code, the physical shipping container (not the contents) is also exempt from being taxed anywhere on the planet by mutual agreement of virtually every nation. The next step is to assign a conforming Container Identification Number (CIN) to the right of the BIC registration. Now the container can be booked, stuffed, stowed and shipped.
CSC ratings and plates are issued by authorized entities who are authorized by governmental or non-governmental organizations designated by the IMO. In the United States, the US Coast Guard is the top level authority which in turn authorizes other approval authorities to perform CSC testing and certification. In Staxxon’s case, our initial round of CSC tests were performed by Marine Container Equipment Certification Corp. of New Jersey.
CSC Certificate Number USA/MC/101/12 was issued to Staxxon on April 12, 2012 by Marine Container Equipment Certification Corp (MCECC), an authorized approval authority of the US Coast Guard. Big milestone for the product and team. The ratings we received for our 20′ standard dry container were:
– Maximum Gross Weight: 52,900 pounds (24,000 kilograms)
– Maximum Payload: 45,910 pounds (20,825 kilograms)
– Stacking (Corner Post): 190,400 pounds (86,400 kilograms)
– Stacking Capacity: 423,280 pounds (192,000 kilograms) or 8 high/7 over 1
– Transverse Racking: 33,700 pounds (15,286 kilograms)
– Floor Strength: 16,000 pounds (7,257 kilograms)
The Gross Interior Volume Capacity for the Staxxon container design, based on interior (not exterior) dimensions is 1,149 cubic feet (32.536 cubic meters)
Staxxon’s next round of CSC testing will happen later this year. Our goals are:
-increase our Maximum Gross Weight rating
-reduce the empty or “tare” weight so that the Maximum Payload rating increases
-increase our “stacked upon” rating from 8 high (7 on top of 1) to 9 high (8 on top of 1)
In addition, we will also be asking MCECC to test and rate our design in its folded, nested state. While there are no official CSC tests. ISO or IMO standards for a folded/nested shipping container being moved in the folded/nested state, we want to be able to present the industry with folded/nested test results in a format that is consistent with CSC benchmark testing.
What would you like to know about shipping container technology?