Used containers are given a grade and are frequently called things like IICL, CW, WWT, AS IS and some others that are less common. For the purposes of this writing we will focus on the first three. They have also been referred to with the letters of the alphabet just like school such as A-B-C. These letters are usually also taken into account within the acronyms listed. So you could have a CW Grade B for instance. This all can be very confusing. So what does it mean to someone who is not inside the industry?
Here is what it all stands for:
IICL – Institute of International Container Lessors – An Organization of the largest container & chassis leasing companies in the world. The IICL has repair standards that are set for all containers when off hired. (Off hired simply means they have been retired from the shipping community). IICL is the strictest criterion for used containers. IICL does not define the age of a container
CW – Cargo Worthy – A Container deemed to be cargo worthy is suitable for cargo and meets all of the standards in the original specifications. This generally means it is a little older and shows more wear and is usually a little older than an IICL although it may not always be older than an IICL. If purchasing a container to send overseas you would need to get a third party container surveyor to certify that the container is fit for ocean transport.
WWT – Wind & Water Tight – This means just what the title says. In other words, if you lock yourself in the inside the container, you should not see any light coming through the panels or roof. This makes no reference to the underside of the container & generally is not fit for ocean transport but suitable for general storage needs. WWT is a commonly used term and all of the containers in the afore mentioned categories are WWT. However this does not make them all even
AS-IS Containers - Another Category that is self-explanatory. These boxes are in most cases older, show much more wear and rust and may even have slight to noticeable damage on the boxes, underside or floors.
CSC Plate - Refers to the plate affixed on the door of a container which records containers serial number, technical data (MGW, tare, payload) manufacture data, owner data and date of last CSC inspection.
Some Companies use the A-B-C grades within the categories. So let’s say we have a Cargo Worthy Grade A container. This box would have a good appearance, minor to medium dents and scratches, minor to medium superficial rust and a good understructure. This would have a valid CSC plate and would meet ISO requirements suitable for transport. (Not by a surveyor though)
When talking about grading standards it should be understood that grading is usually a company’s internal classification system and not an international standard for purchasing containers. In other words this means, that although 2 companies could both classify their containers in terms of grade, it does not mean that a Grade A will be the same for both. These gradings are not international standards, and tend to refer more to the cosmetics of the container rather than the structural quality. This is not a regulated system of grading for boxes that are now being used for storage of your personal items on your property. So what does all this mean? Well that’s up to you to decide if it matters. Bottom line: Be sure of what you’re purchasing. Take a look at the boxes if possible, ask questions, and make sure your dealing with a reputable company.