Shipping containers are needed for many different purposes, so they are manufactured in a wide range of sizes, shapes and configurations. Most products that are shipped around the world are shipped in a shipping container. If all shipping containers were manufactured identically, there would be problems with the products that could be shipped in the container, limiting their size, shape and quantity. Every container is manufactured to meet a specific need, but how many different types of containers are available? We will review the different types of containers, the sizes they come in and the ways in which they are used.
- General Purpose Container. This type of container is also called the dry container because it is completely enclosed so that the contents are fully protected from the weather. The sidewalls, roof and floor of the container are solid. This is the most commonly used shipping container for cargo and trans-modal shipping. Flexi tanks and liner bags can be installed into these containers to make shipping loose cargo easier.
- Flat Rack Container. This is a container with sides that fold. The end walls are stable to provide secure areas where cargo can be secured. These containers are utilized for shipping oversized goods such as heavy machinery and vehicles. Other items commonly shipped in these containers include large reels of materials. These containers are capable of being loaded with as much as 46 metric tons of material.
- ISO Reefer Container. This type of container ships items that are perishable and need to be kept at a specific temperature such as fruit, vegetables and meat. These containers need to have an external power source to keep the temperature consistent. These containers are manufactured in 20’and 40’sizes with Cor-ten steel.
- Open Top Container. These containers can have their top removed to convert them into an open container. This type of container is best suited to tall cargo that does not fit into regular shipping containers. If some items are too tall to fit into a regular container or too bulky. Rings located on the upper and lower side rails are used to secure cargo inside of the container. These containers are commonly sold in 20 foot and 40-foot lengths.
- Insulated Container. These containers are similar to ISO Reefer containers, but the insulated container is temperature controlled so that it can be exposed to high temperatures. The insulated container features an electric compressor that heats or cools the air in the container so that it meets the required temperature. The container’s interior is a vacuum flask similar to the inside of a thermos bottle. Many different types of products can be shipped over long distances using these special containers including items that are sensitive to temperatures – chemicals, food, pharmaceuticals, blood and organs.
- Double Door Container. This type of container features doors on both ends of the container. These containers are sometimes call tunnel containers and can be very useful for loading and unloading products quickly. Both sets of doors are able to be locked and have weather resistant seals which keep the cargo inside safe from the elements outside.
- High Cube Container. This container has a structure that is similar to general purpose containers. One of the major differences is that these containers are one foot taller than the general-purpose container. These containers are available in 40-foot lengths and sometimes in a 45-foot length if more volume is required. There is a slight recess in the bottom of the container near its front so that it can be centered on a chassis allowing it to sit lower which is meant to compensate for the taller height of the container.
- Open Side Container. This container is close to the design of the general-purpose shipping container. The difference is that the sides of the container are able to be completely opened which allows for better width and easier access so that loading and unloading is simple. These containers are available in 20 foot and 40-foot lengths and offer enough space for items to be loaded that cannot be easily loaded into standard container end doors.
- Half Height Container. This is a container that is utilized for moving dense and heavy bulk cargo. These robust containers are designed to withstand the rigours of industrial usage and can be easily loaded and unloaded, making them ideal for many different types of shipping applications. These containers have a low center of gravity and are able to withstand loads much heavier than regular containers can.
- Tank Container. Tanker containers are manufactured with strong steel which will resist corrosion during transport. This makes it safe for the transport of liquid materials. These containers need to be up to 80% full so that the liquids will not surge while they are being transported. They should not, however, be loaded over 95% full or the liquid inside of the container cannot expand when heated.
- Swap Body Container. This is a type of shipping container that is used in rail and road shipping, commonly used in Europe, with their extensive rail shipping lines. The top of these containers is convertible which means that many different types of goods can be shipped in them. They do not have upper corner fittings, so they are not able to be stacked and are designed strictly for shipping items using land-based transportation methods such as rail or truck.
You may be surprised to learn that there are so many different types of shipping containers. Each type of shipping container is designed with a specific purpose in mind for shipping. They can handle certain types of loads and many are designed around a need that has arisen. The variety of shipping containers is a testament to the adaptability of the simple design of these containers.