One-way containers make only one trip until they’re either sold or returned at a partner’s depot as part of a one-way lease agreement. One-way containers help companies save costs and avoid empty container repositioning mainly caused by trade imbalances between countries. Repositioning empty containers is a problem that most containers have to either (1) move containers from buying to selling location or (2) reposition equipment from surplus locations to port with high demand for containers. The problem is caused by trade imbalances (more shipments go from China to US compared to the other way around) and company-specific inefficiencies related to equipment management (we explained the entire repositioning problem in another blogpost). Sometimes, instead of one-way containers, the terms cabotage containers or one tripper are used interchangeably.

vessel with containers at a terminal

One-way containers increase the operational flexibility and decrease repositioning costs but are hard to organize operationally although the concept is pretty simple: You pick up a container at your partners depot, move it from one location to another and return it at the agreed depot. In reality, especially sourcing one-way containers is a huge challenge! Finding new partners, setting up legal agreements, vetting your partners takes a lot of time and tracking, payment handling and the entire management of a deal is a manual, cumbersome process. That’s why most companies still reposition their containers empty although they could avoid associated costs and only offer one-way  moves to their existing partners or at very high volumes. Compared to leasing or buying a container, one-way containers increase your operational flexibility and you avoid repositioning costs as well as storage and repair charges.

Find one-way containers online

To make one-way container moves efficient and solve the challenges associated with it, we operate the first neutral online platform in container logistics for container owners and users. Carriers, container traders and leasing companies such as Seaco offer their equipment on Container xChange to find partners that move their equipment to where they need to container for a next sale or lease deal. A typical use case is a container trader who buys containers in Asia and moves them to his selling location (let’s say that’s the US) for free with a freight forwarder on xChange or a shipping line which has to balance out their equipment. In both cases we create a win-win situation for container owners and users with our neutral online platform because sourcing one-way opportunities and the operational handling gets easier. As a container owner you just type in your locations, select one of our vetted partners and let the platform do the time-consuming container tracking or payment handling for you. If you feel like xChange could help you with empty repositioning, click on the banner below to get in touch with us.