11 jun 2020

In the first part of the three-part miniseries about sea containers, we took a trip down memory lane, talking about the history of shipping containers. In the second part, we will have a look at the most common types of intermodal containers and what they’re used for.

Dry storage containers

These are the most used containers in the world. The most common is a 40ft container, followed by 20ft. Both of these are 8ft wide and 8ft 6in tall. They have double-wing doors from one side, and there are holes on the side walls by the upper edges to help with the ventilation.


20ft (on the left) and 40ft dry storage containers - truck loading software

Source: https://static.turbosquid.com/Preview/2014/08/02__04_32_12/Container_20ft40ft_Rr_01.jpge74e8910-84b7-4c32-b397-15ec4a7a521cZoom.jpg


High Cube containers

High cube (HC) containers can be either 40 or 45ft long; exceptionally, we can also encounter 20ft HC containers. The width is the same as for standard 20ft and 40ft containers, which is eight feet. The difference is in height, where HC containers are about one foot higher, reaching 9ft 6in. Same as standard containers, they also have double doors from one side.


Standard 40ft container (on the right) and 40ft high cube container - truck loading software

Source: http://containertech.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/40v40.jpg


Open top containers

Open top containers are exactly the same as standard 20ft and 40ft with only one difference – the roof, which is most often tarpaulin, can be removed. That’s very convenient if you load bulky, heavy cargo, which needs to be loaded from the top by crane or for example, for loading grain, which is also usually poured by crane or excavator from the top.


20ft open top container¨- truck loading software

Source: https://d3j45br92xck4i.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/20ft-Open-Top-Container-Used.jpg


Flat rack containers

Again, flat rack containers are made 20ft and 40ft long. They have two advantages. The first is that the container doesn’t have the left and right sides as well as the top so that anything can be loaded there easily with a forklift, even very high cargo. The second advantage is that the front and back sides are collapsible inwards, making for a flat surface, so for example, a truck can be driven onto it. Flat rack containers are used for transporting construction machinery, boats, or even a bus. After collapsing the sides, you can stack up to five on top of each other, which is another advantage when transporting empty flat rack containers.


Bus loaded on flat rack container - truck loading software

Source: https://www.alconet-containers.com/wp-content/uploads//2018/02/Flat-rack-container-with-cargo.png


Car carrier container

Car carrier containers are specifically designed for car transportation. They are divided into two halves with a retractable platform so that you can fit two cars in the container. Often they also have removable sides for easier manipulation when loading the vehicles.


Two loaded car carrier containers - truck loading software

Source: https://nationalpostcom.files.wordpress.com/2018/12/20180517_105614-e1544483334773.jpg?quality=80&strip=all&w=780


Tunnel container

Also called double door container; is the same as standard 20ft container, but it has doors on both sides of it, which makes loading and unloading significantly easier. It is usually 20ft long, but since it’s easy to turn any standard container into tunnel container by just swapping the backside for a wing door, we can also encounter other lengths. Tunnel containers can be divided by a metal partition, getting two 10ft containers, each with its own entry.

People found many inventive ways of use for double door containers, including temporary bridge, biomass boiler, or catering festival stand.


Tunnel container - truck loading software

Source: https://newshippingcontainers.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/double-door-3-768×576.jpg


Open side container

Another type of container used for more effortless loading and unloading is an open side container, whose (usually) one side can be opened. That is good if you need to access specific cargo faster or if it is too big to be loaded through the front door. You can see both 20ft and 40ft open side containers.


20ft open side container - truck loading software

Source: https://3dexport.com/3dmodel-20ft-shipping-container-side-open-209079.htm


ISO reefer container

ISO reefer containers commonly referred to as reefers, have external power units, enabling the operator to set an exact temperature, usually ranging from -40°C(-40°F) up to +30°C (86°F). That is ideal for transporting perishable goods such as fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, or medicaments. Reefers can come in many sizes, most often being again 20ft and 40ft.


20ft HC ISO reefer container - truck loading software

Source: https://mccontainers.com/product-tag/6-m-reefer-container/


Tank container

A tank container, also known as tanktainer, is a cylindric vessel from stainless steel in the middle of a steel frame with (usually) standard ISO dimensions. They are suitable for the transport of liquid materials, gases, or powder. Tank containers should be generally filled only between 80-95% full to prevent dangerous surging of liquids in transit as well as to have enough room for gas expansion.


20ft ISO tank container - truck loading software

Source: https://www.indiamart.com/proddetail/iso-tank-container-3599336291.html


These are nine of the most common intermodal containers. Naturally, the list isn’t complete as there is plenty of other container types such as insulated containers, half-height containers, swap bodies, drums, etc. But if you go to the port and look at some container ship, you’ll recognize most of the containers on its deck from this article.

Don’t know which container size to choose? Not sure if your goods fit into 20ft container or you need to order 40ft? Import the list of your load items into EasyCargo, select the container, and you will know within a few seconds whether or not it fits. There are 12 types of most common container sizes predefined in EasyCargo, and if you have an unusual one, you can create your own cargo space.