The biggest technological marvel in the twentieth century pertaining to warfare was arguably the one that never fired a single shot: logistics. Did rapid technical advances certainly help the Allies win World War II? Of course, they did. 

But a quick look at a lot of our gear up through around 1943 shows that technology wasn’t really our strong suit: mass production and the ability to field them rapidly was. The M4 Sherman main battle tank was never superior in any way to the German tanks, but they were far more reliable, and there were so many of them. 

Our aircraft were much the same: none of our frontline fighters could maneuver with the ME-109 of Japanese Zero, but attrition wore down opposing forces. The equalizer and then game changer was always manufacturing and the ability to quickly move forces to multiple fronts.  

This recipe would not change; the only thing that changed was the tools used for the process. Quadcon containers are one of the logistics tools used to move the world’s greatest fighting forces when the balloon goes up.

At Greenwood Aerospace, we know a thing or two about shipping logistics and demands. As a leader in government procurement, aircraft and parts storage and distribution, and aircraft sustainment, we offer everything you need for your aviation operations, including:

Contact us today, and discover how our experts can provide you the parts and services your flight program needs to stay in flight and on time.

Join us as we answer all your questions about Quadcon containers, including: 

  • What is a Quadcon container? 
  • What are its standard dimensions?
  • What is its maximum payload?
  • What are the advantages of a Quadcon container? Limitations? 
  • How can Greenwood Aerospace help with shipping logistics? 

Let's dive in! 

Everything You Need to Know About Quadcon Containers

Okay, so first and foremost, what is a Quadcon? 

First, let’s look at what it was made to emulate: the ubiquitous intermodal container.

Intermodal containers are a type of shipping container that can be easily transferred between different modes of transportation, such as ships, trains, and trucks. They are made of steel and have a standard size of 40 feet long, 8 feet wide, and 8 feet 6 inches high, but a 20-foot length is also very common. You’ve seen these before, either on a long intermodal train or being towed by semi-trucks. 

A large forklift is used to move intermodal containers.
Image Source

Well, Quadcons are a new take on an old design: why not break down the standard 20-foot intermodal into four sections, but then each section can be attached to each other so it has the exact same footprint as a standard intermodal? 

When Quadcons are attached to each other, the doors all face outward instead of being on the end like a standard intermodal, so each Quad can still be accessed individually. 

Origins and Evolution of Quadcon Containers

Quadcon containers, short for Quadruple Containers, have their origins deeply rooted in the evolution of shipping containers. The concept emerged as a response to the growing demand for more versatile and efficient transportation solutions. 

Originating in the mid-20th century, the standardization of shipping containers revolutionized global trade. Quadcons represent an innovative step forward by combining four smaller containers into a single unit. This design optimization was driven by enhancing cargo handling and streamlining logistics processes. 

The Quadcon concept underscores a continuous quest for efficiency in containerized shipping, showcasing the adaptability and ingenuity within the transportation industry.

Significance of Quadcon Containers in Military Logistics

The intermodal system has become a standard shipping container option for military logistics. If you look at the HEMTT truck system, the M1120 is designed to haul a standard intermodal on its back and deliver them with spot precision anywhere. 

The intermodal system, which the Quadcon is designed to be fully compatible with, changed everything. The intermodal can be picked up by an M1120 from anywhere on the installation, including at unit headquarters, if needed, or in the field. Then, it can be either transferred to a standard intermodal tractor-trailer, or many military installations have spur train tracks where an intermodal train can pick up the Quads. From there, they are shipped to a container ship, moved anywhere in the world, and retrieved in much the same way.

Intermodals have made military movements much easier and much faster, and they require no special anything since they are a standard size and format. A Quadcon offers the exact same portability and ease of shipment since it maintains identical dimensions so that they can be on- and off-loaded using standard intermodal container tools. 

What are the Standard Dimensions of a Quadcon Container?

The functionality of the Quadcon lies in its having the same external dimensions as an intermodal container. Here’s how they shakedown, according to manufacturer CMCI:

  • External length: 96”
  • External width: 57 ⅜” 
  • External height: 82”
  • Internal length: 90 ⅜”
  • Internal width: 55 ⅞” 
  • Internal height: 74 ⅜” 

It is important to note that these dimensions are the dimensions of each individual container in the quad. So, these are very useful for hauling parts and accessories, tool kits, and things like that. However, they are not the best-suited logistics solutions for extremely large items. In this regard, they have limitations. But they weren’t intended for use in shipping entire jet engines (for example).

But, with this in mind, they were really intended to keep from using completely underutilized intermodals. Let’s say that a number of small units are tasked to deploy, so each unit is issued an intermodal. But a small squadron doesn’t need a full intermodal and only fills it to 40% capacity. That is a lot of waste. 

How Heavy is a Quadcon?

One question that comes up a lot is, “How heavy is a Quadcon?”

Well, first, let’s take a look at what the different weights even mean. 

First, you have the maximum gross weight of each individual Quad. These weigh in at 11,200lbs fully loaded. So, if you tie four units together, the total weight is 44,800lbs. 

So what about the empty weight?

Technically speaking, empty weight is known as tare weight, and the tare weight on each Quad comes in at 1,764 lbs. So, the tare weight for a full Quadcon weighs in at 7,056 lbs or a little under four tons. 

Features and Design of a Quadcon Contain

Each section of the Quadcon is designed so that the doors are all accessible when a Quadcon is assembled. The sections are connected to each other by use of the SeaLock system, forming a watertight connection between the units. 

Beyond that, the construction is standard for other ISO containers. 

  • CORTEN steel construction
  • Non-slip tread floors
  • Four-way pockets for forklifts
  • Full-width doors 
A forklift lifts a container into the air during transport.
Image Source

What is the Maximum Payload of a Quadcon Container?

The Quadcon (and intermodal generally) are so favorable because of their incredible versatility. One of the first things you learn in logistics is that the more sets of hands that touch a box, the more money is tied up in that one unit. So every time a box is offloaded from one thing (box trailer) and transferred to something else, it costs more. More time, more money, etc. 

The maximum payload per quad is 9,436 lbs, so an assembled quad can hold a substantial 37,744 lbs of payload.

Quadcon Container Uses and Applications

Quadcon containers have a number of uses where they are the best overall solution:

  1. Military Operations: Quadcons are often employed by military forces for their modular and adaptable nature. They can be easily transported and reconfigured to meet the specific needs of different missions, such as mobile command centers, equipment storage, or field hospitals.
  2. Disaster Relief: In times of natural disasters or emergencies, Quadcon containers can be quickly deployed to provide temporary shelters, medical facilities, or storage units for relief supplies. Their modular design allows for rapid response and flexibility in addressing evolving needs.
  3. Construction and Infrastructure Projects: Quadcon containers are used in construction sites as on-site offices, storage units for tools and equipment, or mobile workshops. Their robust structure makes them suitable for harsh construction environments.
  4. Remote and Challenging Environments: Quadcons are valuable in remote or challenging environments due to their durability and transportability. They can serve as temporary housing, storage, or workspaces in locations where traditional infrastructure is limited.
  5. Shipping and Logistics: While not as common as standard shipping containers, Quadcons can still be used in the transportation of goods. They offer a flexible alternative for certain types of cargo and can be adapted to fit specific shipping requirements.

The adaptability and modular nature of Quadcon containers make them valuable across various industries, offering solutions to logistics, construction, emergency response challenges, and more.

A stack of intermodal containers.

Quadcon vs. Tricon Containers

The other similar sectional container on the market is the Tricon container. It is basically the same thing, except each section is a little larger; three assembled Tricons form the size of a standard 20’ ISO container. 

Using a Quadcon versus a Tricon is just up to the consumer. They are built to do the same thing and for the same purpose. 

Advantages of Quadcon Containers

The advantage of Quadcons is that a more modular approach can be used to ship gear. 

Instead of cramming all the parts into one ISO container for an aviation unit, you can use a Quadcon. Every quad can be used for different types of parts (one for hydro, one for environmental, one for engine parts, etc.). 

Other advantages include: 

  1. Efficient Organization for Aviation Maintenance: In an aviation unit, the maintenance of diverse equipment and parts is a constant necessity. Quadcon containers provide a modular solution, allowing the division of components into specialized Quads. For instance, a Quadcon can be dedicated to hydraulic parts, another to environmental equipment, and a separate one for engine components. This modular approach streamlines the retrieval process during maintenance tasks, saving time and ensuring the right parts are readily accessible.
  2. Tailored Cargo for Specialized Missions: Military operations often demand specialized equipment and gear tailored to the specific requirements of a mission. Quadcon containers offer flexibility in cargo organization, enabling units to customize their container configurations based on mission needs. Whether it's medical supplies, communication equipment, or weaponry, Quadcons provide a modular and adaptable solution for shipping diverse gear.
  3. Improved Supply Chain Management: Quadcon containers contribute to a more efficient supply chain by allowing units to categorize and ship components according to their functional or mission-specific relevance. This strategic organization not only expedites the deployment process but also facilitates better inventory management, reducing the risk of logistical errors and ensuring that critical items are readily available when needed.
  4. Enhanced Deployment Flexibility: Military units are often required to deploy rapidly in response to emergent situations. Quadcons support this need for agility by offering a containerized system that allows units to quickly mobilize and transport mission-critical equipment. The modular nature of Quadcons ensures that each container can be precisely configured for the intended deployment, optimizing the use of available cargo space.

The advantages of Quadcon containers translate into logistics efficiency, mission adaptability, and overall operational effectiveness. These containers provide practical solutions for organizing and transporting all types of equipment to support any military operation.

Limitations and Considerations

The main limitation of the Quadcon comes from what it was designed to do best: compartmentalize. If you have large items to ship, you should consider a full-size ISO container because it just is not going to fit in the Quadcons. 

The other thing to consider is that Quadcons are meant to be packed together either as a set of two (which has the dimensions of a standard 10’ ISO container) or four. You will need to ship them in these sets; otherwise, they are an odd shape that does not work with any standard equipment. 

Otherwise, Quadcons are a great option for a lot of different uses and applications. 

How Greenwood Aerospace Can Help Your Shipping Logistics

Shipping containers have proven extremely valuable for military logistics. Easy to maneuver, simple to ship, and durable enough to hold up in the field, they are a terrific way to move bulk goods. 

The Quadcon is the logical evolution of the standard shipping container, breaking it down and making it modular and convenient. 

Greenwood Aerospace is your expert in all things MIL-SPEC packaging and shipping. If you are looking for professionals who will ensure your materials are shipped exactly as MIL-SPEC requires, give us a call, and we’ll go over the details with you!

Interested in more News on military shipping and logistics? Read these next: 

  1. Advancements in Aerospace Logistics: The Role of Military Shipping Containers
  2. How Military Supplier Custom Packaging Supports Government Agencies
  3. How to Procure Advanced Military Packaging Solutions
  4. Your Comprehensive Guide to MIL-SPEC Codes for Military Shipping Boxes