how are cago CVontainers Tracked?

You see these things everywhere-abandoned (seeminly) in fields, construction sites, RR sisidings, etc. I once read that several million of these things enter the USA every week-how to shipping lines keep track of them? Suppose a MAERSK CC lands in LA-then gets onto a railroad car, bound for NYC. It is then filled with another cargo, and shipped to Boston, where it is loaded on a ship bound for Buenos Aires-how do they keep track of these things?
And, how long do they last (typicaly)?

I’ve worked on projects in the third world to supply whatever. We would buy the containers (they weren’t that expensive) and sell them once they were emptied out of our goods. I think containers do kind of travel the world. For example, we bought textbooks from Indonesia for distribution in Afghanistan. Once the containers were empty, we sold them to a Pakistani merchant who loaded them with whatever and sent them to Peshawar, where they were probably sold to someone else who sent them to China or wherever. I’m not aware of any attempt to track them, except if they stay in the inventory of an individual company.

For example, if I have a container and I sell it to someone and they use it to live in, you can’t keep track of it. But if I sell it to a person who uses it to ship something on a vessel, the steamship line records the container number for their own tracking purposes, like fedex does with an airbill number. Once that container is taken off the vessel and put on either a truck or train, the truck or train line records the container number in their system for trackin purposes. once delivered it is not kept up with until the container is used again for shipping purposes.

The international body which governs shipping is the IMO - International Maritime Organization. The IMO has many conventions covering all aspects of shipping, including containers. The applicable convention for containers is the International Convention for Safe Containers, 1972 (CSC)

Containers have a CSC plate attached used for inspection and tracking purposes. The tracking and inspection of containers, however, is very low on a long list of items that shippers, merchants, and governments worry about. They are, after all, just big corrugated boxes used to hold cargo. They are often easier to replace than to repair, so they tend to end up in the oddest of places, used for variety of purposes. Containers which are more specialized, such as those used to carry liquid hazmats, will receive closer scrutiny by those involved.

Containers are like shopping carts. They help out in the store, but the store doesn’t get too worried when some don’t come back from the parking lot.

Having worked in most areas of commercial shipping, I can supply a little more detail. Most shipping lines lease equipment to supplement their fleet. Leasing companies track most carefully which lines have which equipment, and contracts specify the penalties for equipment which is lost. Shipping lines track which of their customers have which equipment, and again, have penalties in place for recovering the cost of missing boxes.

Each individual container has a unique serial number marked in several places, which can be used to track the current responsible party. The serial #s are usually 4 alpha followed by 7 numbers. The #s are painted on all sides and burned into major supporting posts (to make sure boxes are not repainted by unscrupulous people, and to help with identity when there’s serious damage.) If you can identify the alpha prefix, you can track the current user. Example: Itel (company no longer exists) leases box ITLU451237-1 to Maersk. Maersk provides it to their customer in LA. Customer drays in to San Diego and leaves it parked blocking your driveway. You call Itel, who refers you to Maersk. Maersk contacts their customer and orders them to move it. Or – the box is towed and Maersk contacts their customer and advises them to recover and pay all fees.

Boxes which are sitting idle are sometimes lost – especially if they are in odd locations. Many leasing companies and shipping lines will pay rewards to assistance in recovering lost equipment, so making the calls isn’t a bad way to pick up a little cash. The most difficult part is determining who the owner is, as both leasing and shipping lines keep merging. Also, the prefix does not always give a clear hint of the owner. The booming market in used containers also makes the process a little less sure. All contracts I’ve seen specify that the customer will repaint the box ASAP after taking ownership, but in reality it does not always happen.

In regard to how long the boxes last, it’s dependant on the type. Refrigerated containers are better built usually, but have more things which can go wrong and make them unusable. In general, boxes depreciate from day one and are fully depreciated in 5-7 years. In fact, with proper repairs a box can last 10+ years – but few are left in service that long. The market in used equipment makes it more cost effective to sell older boxes and invest in newer equipment for actual shipping. Customers are not content to receive a workable box that looks bad, so it’s partly a marketing decision.

Hope that helps!

I did a project using RF tags once, and while I was doing research I found that a very common application of the tags is for container tracking. If you have a lot of containers going to lots of different places, just slap a tag on every container and put antennas (like the ones on EZ-PASS toll booths only with a longer range) up at all of the gates, loading docks, etc. where the containers might end up. Each container will be recorded as it gets trucked in and out of gates and is loaded or unloaded onto a ship or train. It’s a bit faster and less error prone than having a human write down serial numbers all day long.

I seriously had no idea what a cago CVontainer was until I read all of the replies.

Thankfully, there are a lot of us here who are fluent in typo, since we ourselves speak it quite often.

They’re like cargo containers, only bigger. Plus, the capacity of cago CVontainers are measured in millibars per square cubit.

It’s tricky at first, but you get used to it.

My brain is too analytical. Upon reading the title it was immediately rifling through all prior knowledge and thinking…“Cago…cago…never heard that word. Sounds foreign. Something tropical, perhaps? Must return later for further analysis and research. CV…CV…uh? Curriculum vitae??? Huh, that makes no sense… Ontainer… what’s an ontainer? Is the root of that -tainer? Is that like a retainer? Is an ontainer something that retains something but it is on it rather than adjacent to it? How does that work? OOH- maybe its C. Vontainer… what’s a vontainer?” And on and on we go. Thankfully, in addition to being highly analytical I am also highly distractable.

No, I don’t like ping-pong, why do you ask?