Here are Nine Types of Containers Used in Cargo Shipping

In the early 1960s, industry-wide and international agreements specifying container sizes, strength and lifting and connecting fixtures, were attained. This standardization enabled intermodal transportation of containers from ship to truck and train. Today the global stock of cargo shipping containers either leased or owned, exceeds 35 million.

Shipping containers are generally made of steel and sometimes with aluminum and wood. The floors are usually wood.

There are nine common types of shipping containers which are available in 3 lengths: 20ft, 40ft and 45ft.

1.-The Dry Container, Also called the Standard Container or General container is used 90% of the time in sea container shipments. The Dry Container is available in all 3 lengths and the 40ft and 45ft lengths can be high cube containers. The high cube container is 2896 mm (9ft 6in) tall compared to the standard height of 2591 mm (8ft 6in).

2.-The Refrigerated Containers

Also called Reefer Container, used in 5% of container shipments, transports frozen or cold cargoes like produce, meat, seafood and films. It is capable of keeping temperatures between -18 to 20 degrees centigrade. The Reefer is available in all 3 lengths and the 40ft and 45ft can be high cube containers.

3.-The Open Top

Employed in less than 5% of container shipments, is available in 20ft and 40ft lengths. It’s used for the transportation of heavy and high height cargoes. The top consists of removable bows and a tarpaulin. These features make it easier to pack and unpack the contents. The tarpaulin is used to protect the cargo from the weather when being transported.

4.-The Hard Top Comes in the 20 and 40ft lengths and is particularly used for heavy and tall cargo. The steel roof is removable and the door header may be swiveled out. The advantage of having both of these attributes is easier loading and unloading of the cargo either from the top or through the doors.

5.-The Flat Rack Container It is available in 20 and 40ft lengths. It is used for transporting heavy, bulky and extra wide cargo not suitable for the standard container. Since it lacks both a roof and walls, it can be unpacked from side and top.

6.-The Flat Bed Containers Comes in 20 and 40ft lengths (high cube) and is appropriate for heavy cargo transportation. With the Flat Bed it is possible to ship concentrated heavy weights on small areas. Flat racks are more suitable for high height cargoes than are Open Tops.

7.-The Ventilated Container Also named Passive or Coffee container is commonly used in the 20ft length. The ventilation is achieved with spray-proof openings in the top and bottom side rails. Ventilated containers are used to transport green coffee beans and other cargo requiring ventilation.

8.-The Bulk Container It is available in the 20ft length and is used to transport bulk contents such as grain, feed and spices.

Tank containers

9.-The Tank Container TK is 20ft long and is often owned by the shipper. The tank is surrounded by a framework with the dimensions of a container. Tanks are filled to 80-95% of their capacity. This requirement prevents excessive surging of contents, and also provides sufficient space for thermal expansion. Tanks are used to transport both liquid foodstuffs such as oils and juices and also liquid chemicals including hazardous materials.


Picture of a TANK CONTAINER by LosHawlos. 


For assistance on choosing the best type of container for your cargo contact us.