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Overview / Types of Shipping Containers

The shipping industry is among the biggest industries in the whole world. In fact, about 90% of the world economy is driven by shipping. With thousands of container ships hauling tons of cargo across the globe, shipping makes an essential segment to keep the fabric of trade strong.
Companies have various shipping requirements, for goods of different types that need to be delivered from one end of the world to the other. To satisfy each requirement, a different sort of container is used. The container used is chosen according to the shipping needs of the goods to be transported.

Here are the different kinds of containers used for cargo shipping –

1. General-Purpose Containers: The General-purpose container is the most common type of container of all. Also called a dry container, it has a solid roof, a floor, and sidewalls. This container gives excellent protection against weather conditions. With a few additional resources like flexitanks or liner bags, general-purpose containers can also be used to ship dry bulk cargo or liquid cargo.

2. Flat Rack Containers: Two walls of the flat rack containers are collapsible so it can be converted into a flat rack. These kinds of containers are generally used for shipping oversized cargoes that won’t ideally fit in general-purpose containers. These cargoes may include heavy machinery, industrial parts, heavy vehicles etc.

3. Open top Containers: Open top containers are the containers having a roof that can be completely removed. These containers are used to ship the goods that are over-height. Tall machinery parts, bulky industry products etc. The loading and unloading of such goods can only be done by a crane.

4. Double-door Containers: Just as the name suggests, this container has doors on both sides. Also called a Tunnel Container, the loading and unloading in these containers become very convenient. They can be helpful when comparatively wider cargoes are to be shipped.

5. High-cube Containers: This particular container is the same as the general-purpose container with regards to structure, except High-cube containers are one foot taller. Some goods and cargoes may be slightly bigger to fit in the general-purpose containers, so they are shipped using High-cube containers.

6. Open-side Containers: Again a container that is similar to the general-purpose containers. Both sides of this container can open, unlike the general-purpose containers. Loading and unloading in these containers become easy due to bigger accessibility. It can be used to ship goods that are slightly bigger in volume.

7. ISO Reefer Containers: ISO Reefer Containers are used to store goods that are temperature sensitive & need refrigeration. These containers are generally available in size 20’ and 40’ & they can be used for shipping items like meat, vegetables, fruits etc. These containers require an external source of power to provide temperature control.

8. Insulated Containers: Insulated Containers are again similar to ISO Reefer Containers, helpful for shipping temperature-sensitive items like fruits, vegetables, pharmaceuticals, biological products etc. These are made of the same material that a thermos flask is made of so that they can sustain a temperature for a long journey.

9. Half Height Containers: These containers have only 50% the height of a General-Purpose container. These containers are best for shipping dry cargo like coal, stones and other heavy materials. They are robust and can handle heavier weights. Loading and unloading from theses containers are easy.

10. Tank Containers: Tank Containers or Tankers are strong-steel, anti-corrosive containers built for transporting liquid cargo over long distances. These containers have to be at least 85% full to avoid risky surges of liquids while they are transported and they must not be over 95% full so as to leave some room for thermal expansion.

These were the 10 basic types of containers that are used in the shipping industry on a daily basis. Each container has it’s own speciality and fulfils a unique shipping requirement. With the right mix of these containers, about all kinds of goods can be transported to any corner of the world.