A chassis, also known as an intermodal chassis, is a flatbed or frame structure used to transport cargo containers and other types of freight. It is usually made of steel, aluminum, or composite material and has wheels for easy transportation.


What Are the Main Components of a Chassis?

A chassis typically consists of several main components that work together to provide support, strength, and stability. 

A typical container chassis consists of the following components:

  • Frame: The frame is the chassis’s backbone and provides its basic structure and shape. It holds all the other components together and supports the weight of the container.
  • Suspension Components: These include the springs (coil springs or leaf springs), shock absorbers (dampers), control arms, and other elements that make up the suspension system. The suspension components are crucial for absorbing shocks, maintaining traction, and providing a comfortable ride.
  • Axles: Axles connect the wheels to the chassis and transmit power from the engine to the wheels. 


Frequently Asked Questions About Chassis for SMBs


What is the Chassis Fee?

Chassis fees are additional charges applied when a shipping container requires a chassis for overland transportation. It is usually charged by the shipping company or terminal operator for the rental and usage of the chassis during the transport of the container to its final destination. This fee covers the maintenance, handling, and use of the chassis. It’s important to note that chassis fees can vary depending on the provider, the length of usage, and regional practices. 


What How Does the Size of a Chassis Relate to the Size of Cargo Containers it Can Carry?

The size of a chassis is closely tied to the dimensions of the cargo containers it is intended to carry. Chassis are meticulously designed to match the standardized sizes of cargo containers, such as the common 20-foot (TEU) and 40-foot (FEU) containers used in international shipping. This design compatibility ensures that containers can securely and precisely fit on the chassis, with twist-lock mechanisms at the chassis corners aligning with the container’s fittings for a standardized and secure attachment. 

Additionally, the chassis’s structural integrity and weight distribution are optimized to provide a stable platform for the container during transportation, ensuring road safety and preventing shifting or imbalance. 

While standard chassis are tailored for specific container sizes, versatile options like slider and extendable chassis offer adjustability to accommodate various container lengths.


Is There a Difference Between the Chassis Design of Standard Iso Containers and Specialized Containers?

Yes, there are different chassis designs tailored to accommodate various types of cargo containers, including standard ISO containers and specialized containers. Chassis for standard ISO containers are equipped with twist-lock mechanisms that match the corner fittings of these widely used containers. On the other hand, specialized chassis designs cater to specific container types, such as refrigerated (reefer) container chassis, which supports temperature-sensitive cargo, or tank container chassis, which secures cylindrical tank containers. 


What Are the Main Types of Chassis Used for Cargo Containers?

There are several main types of chassis used for cargo container transportation, each designed to accommodate specific container sizes and applications. The main types of chassis include:

  • Standard Chassis: These chassis are designed to carry standard ISO containers, which are the most common type of cargo containers used in international shipping. Standard chassis typically come in lengths suitable for 20-foot and 40-foot containers.
  • Tri-Axle Chassis: Tri-axle chassis have three axles and are capable of carrying heavier loads. They are often used for overweight containers or when the cargo weight exceeds the capacity of a standard chassis.
  • Slider Chassis: Slider chassis are adjustable in length, allowing them to accommodate both 20-foot and 40-foot containers. The chassis frame can be extended or retracted to match the container size.
  • Extendable Chassis: Extendable chassis is similar to slider chassis but can be adjusted to carry containers of various lengths, including containers longer than 40 feet.
  • Gooseneck Chassis: These chassis have a forward-mounted gooseneck, which allows for better weight distribution and maneuverability. They are often used in regions with strict axle-weight regulations.
  • Lowboy Chassis: Lowboy chassis has a lower deck height, making them suitable for carrying taller cargo containers or specialized equipment with greater height requirements.
  • Tank Container Chassis: Specifically designed for transporting tank containers, these chassis have cradles or support structures to secure cylindrical tank containers safely.
  • Flatbed Chassis: Flatbed chassis lack the twist-lock mechanisms required for standard containers but are used for carrying oversized or non-containerized cargo, such as construction equipment or large machinery.
  • Specialized Chassis: Besides the standard types, it is possible to find specialized chassis designed for unique cargo types, such as refrigerated (reefer) container chassis for temperature-sensitive cargo or chassis with special securing mechanisms for specialized containers.


Is it Possible to Customize or Modify the Chassis to Meet Specific Cargo Handling Requirements?

As mentioned earlier, some chassis types can indeed be customized or modified to meet specific cargo handling needs, providing versatility and adaptability in container transportation. However, the key to a successful operation is to follow best practices and industry standards, which means that your cargo should be handled in a way that will prevent any unnecessary irregularities and be used with the correct chassis that can facilitate the safe and efficient transportation of your cargo to its final destination. This can be accomplished by working with a trusted freight forwarder who can support you throughout this procedure as part of the entire shipping process.


What Are the Weight Limitations and Capacity Considerations for Chassis?

Weight limitations and capacity considerations for chassis used in cargo container transportation are crucial to ensure safe and efficient operations. These considerations vary depending on the type of chassis, regional or national regulations, and the specific cargo being transported. Here are some key factors to consider:

  • Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR): Chassis have a maximum allowable Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, which includes the weight of the chassis itself, the cargo container, and any cargo inside the container. This rating is determined by the chassis manufacturer and must comply with local road regulations. Exceeding the GVWR can result in legal and safety issues.
  • Payload Capacity: Payload capacity describes the maximum weight of the cargo and container that a chassis can safely transport. It is the difference between the GVWR and the weight of the empty chassis. Different chassis types and designs have varying payload capacities, making it necessary to select the appropriate chassis based on the expected cargo weight.
  • Axle Weight Limits: Many regions have axle weight limits that restrict the amount of weight that can be placed on individual axles or axle groups. The cargo must be loaded in such a way that the weight is evenly distributed across all axles to comply with these limits and prevent damage to roads and infrastructure.
  • Weight Distribution: Proper weight distribution is essential for chassis stability and road safety. Cargo containers should be loaded in a way that evenly distributes the weight on the chassis, with careful attention to the placement of heavy cargo items. Imbalanced loads can lead to accidents and chassis damage.
  • Chassis Type: Tri-axle chassis and lowboy chassis are designed to handle heavier loads compared to standard two-axle chassis. Selecting the appropriate chassis type for the intended cargo weight is essential.


How Does Chassis Maintenance and Inspection Impact Container Transportation?

Chassis maintenance and inspection are essential in container transportation, impacting various aspects of the process. Ensuring the safety of the chassis is crucial, as regular maintenance and inspection help identify potential safety hazards, such as worn tires or brake system problems, reducing the risk of accidents on the road. Cargo security is also closely tied to proper maintenance, as issues with chassis components like twist-lock mechanisms can lead to container detachment during transit, posing safety risks and cargo damage. 


What Role Does Chassis Play in FCL Shipping?

The chassis plays a pivotal role in FCL shipping within the global logistics framework. It serves as a critical tool in the seamless transition of containers between maritime and land transport systems. Essentially, these robust, wheeled frames act as the mobile base for shipping containers. They enable the FCL, intended for the importer, to be effectively and swiftly moved to its ultimate destination via road transport. This functionality not only enhances the efficiency of container transfers but also ensures a more streamlined and reliable delivery process.


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