If you offer portable-storage service, you should have a regular maintenance routine to ensure years of reliable delivery and storage. The manufacturer of your containers can provide a specific checklist. In addition, here are some common maintenance tasks to keep your containers looking new and lasting longer.
Because they come in contact with road salt and debris, portable-storage containers are exposed to a harsher life than your typical self-storage building. A thorough washing can prolong the life of the container. In absence of any specific manufacturer recommendation, use a mild detergent such as RV or carwash soap and rinse well. Since your containers likely have your name and logo, it’s even more important to maintain a clean appearance when they are dropped in front of your customers’ homes or businesses.
As long as you’ve got the hose out, take a minute to ensure your containers don’t have any leaks. After a good soaking, inspect the interior and confirm there is no water inside. Butyl caulk can be used to seal any minor leaks in wall joints. Be careful with pressure washers around graphics and joints in walls.
Touch It Up
When the containers are clean, you have a perfect opportunity to touch up any scratches. Touch-up paint may be available from the manufacturer in a nail polish-style applicator. For bigger problems (such as graffiti that can’t be removed), you may need to have the paint custom-matched. Some hardware or paint stores can provide custom-matched spray paint. Test any new cleansers or paints in a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure compatibility with your containers.
Logos and Decals
Your containers also serve as mobile billboards, and weathered or damaged signage reflects poorly on your business. The decals or signage looked great when first applied to the containers, but how are they holding up? If the answer is “not well,” consider if it’s worth the effort and expense to replace the signage. Inside the container, most operators provide various warning or loading instruction decals. Check to make sure they are also in good condition and not defaced.
If your containers feature roll-up doors, maintenance is essentially identical to the roll-ups on a self-storage building. If the door doesn’t operate smoothly, a lubricant may be applied to the rubber portion of the door guides. If the door is hard to open or close, the spring tension may need adjustment. Some door springs may also need lubrication unless they feature a permanent coating. If your containers have swing doors, check the seals for weather-tightness.
For containers with wheels or rollers, check the mounts for signs of damage or weakness. Caster-type wheels may be prone to damage, but are typically replaceable. Steel rollers may have grease fittings on the axles: a few shots with a grease gun once a year should keep the wheels spinning freely.
If your containers feature bolt-together construction, inspect the fasteners periodically for tightness. If a fastener must be replaced for any reason, contact the manufacturer for a replacement. Fasteners used on containers may be a specific grade, or feature corrosion-protection for harsh environments. Additionally, fasteners may be designed to withstand the rattling and motion of transport without becoming loose. Using the wrong type of fasteners could result in rust streaks on your containers, or worse, parts rattling off in transport.
Part of the portable-storage business involves securing the containers to your truck or trailer. Make it part of your scheduled maintenance to take an extra close look at your chains, straps, wheel chocks, blocks and other loading equipment periodically. Repair or replace any damaged items.
It is imperative to have a procedure in place, with one person held accountable to ensure all vehicle maintenance (such as an oil change) is performed and documented on schedule. Check the owner’s manual of all trucks, lifts, etc., for details. In a small business, especially one that has recently added new equipment, it can be too easy for everyone to think that someone else is taking care of it.
Performing routine maintenance tasks will go a long way toward extending the life of your containers, improving your customers’ experience and ensuring the safety of the transportation of your containers. Ideally, you’ll head off any problems before they become major, and reduce the chances that any repairs will be needed in the field.
Steve Hajewski is product manager at Trachte Building Systems. He has been with the company since 2005, leading research and development for Trachte’s portable-storage program. He has more than 10 years of business-to-business sales and marketing experience. For more information, call 800.356.5824, ext. 3208; e-mail [email protected]; visit www.trachte.com.