Shipping Container Sizes: A Complete Guide
Have you ever wondered how your online purchases or imported goods get delivered to your doorstep? Chances are, they traveled across the ocean in a metal box called a shipping container. Shipping containers are standardized steel boxes that can be loaded onto ships, trucks, trains, or planes. They are used to transport all kinds of cargo, from clothes and electronics to cars and machinery. But not all shipping containers are the same. There are different sizes and types of containers that suit different needs and purposes. In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about shipping container sizes, including their dimensions, capacities, benefits, challenges, and uses. Let’s dive in!
What Shipping Containers are, Why They are Used
Shipping container sizes vary depending on the type and purpose of the container. But what are shipping containers and what are they used for? Shipping containers are steel boxes that can carry goods from one place to another. They can be loaded on ships, trucks, trains, or planes. They can also be used for other things, like storing stuff, making houses or offices, creating art or events, and more. Shipping containers have many advantages. They are strong, safe, cheap, and eco-friendly. But they also have some disadvantages. They are heavy, can cause pollution, need maintenance, and may have legal problems.
How Shipping Containers are Standardized
Shipping containers are standardized by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which has set the dimensions, construction and type of locks for different types of containers since 1961. Standardized containers have improved shipping efficiency, security and cost by allowing easy loading and unloading of cargo on trucks, trains and ships. Some common types of standardized containers are dry containers, high cube containers, open top containers and temperature controlled containers.
Features of Shipping Containers
Shipping containers have many features that make them convenient, versatile and durable for various purposes. Some of the features of shipping containers are:
Standardization: Shipping containers have standardized dimensions and construction that comply with the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) certification. This means they can be easily handled, stacked and moved by specialized modes, equipment and terminals anywhere in the world.
Flexibility: Shipping containers can carry different types of cargo, such as dry goods, liquids, refrigerated items or hazardous materials. They can also be modified into other uses, such as office spaces, homes or storage units.
Costs: Shipping containers reduce the costs of transportation and storage by allowing more efficient loading and unloading of cargo, minimizing damage and loss of goods, and saving space and fuel.
Velocity: Shipping containers enable faster movement of goods across long distances by reducing the need for transshipment or repacking of cargo at intermediate points.
Warehousing: Shipping containers provide secure and weather-resistant storage for goods that can be easily accessed when needed.
Security and safety: Shipping containers protect the cargo from theft, vandalism or contamination by using locks, seals and tracking devices. They also prevent accidents or injuries by having strong and stable structures made of corrugated steel or aluminum.
What are 6 Types of Shipping Containers?
Shipping containers are not all the same. They come in different types, sizes and designs to suit different kinds of cargo and purposes. According to some sources, there are over 15 different varieties of shipping containers. Here are some of the most 6 common types of shipping containers are:
- Dry storage containers: These are standard containers that are used to store and transport dry goods, such as clothing, furniture or electronics. They have a rigid structure and a closed top, and they come in various sizes, such as 10ft, 20ft or 40ft.
- High cube containers: These are similar to dry storage containers, but they have an extra foot of height (9.6 ft instead of 8.6 ft). They are used to store and transport items that require more vertical space, such as furniture or machinery.
- Open-top containers: these are containers that have a removable roof or tarpaulin that can be lifted by a crane. They are used to store and transport items that are too tall or bulky to fit in a standard container, such as logs, pipes or machinery parts.
- Flat rack containers: These are containers that have collapsible sides that can be folded down to create a flat platform. They are used to transport oversized or heavy items, such as machinery, vehicles or pipes.
- Tank containers: These are cylindrical containers that are used to store and transport liquids or gases, such as chemicals, fuels or water. They have a protective frame and valves for loading and unloading.
- Reefer container: short for the refrigerated container. It has a generator that cools the cargo. It’s used for perishable goods or temperature-sensitive products.
How Big is a Shipping Container?
The size of a shipping container depends on its type and purpose. The most common sizes are 20 feet and 40 feet long, each at around 8 feet wide. The height of a shipping container can be either standard height (8 feet 6 inches) or high cube (9 feet 6 inches). High cube containers offer more storage space and better ventilation for some types of cargo. The weight of a shipping container varies depending on its material and contents, but generally ranges from 1,300 kg to 4,000 kg for an empty container.
- 20-Foot Container: 20″x8″x8″ (exterior) and 5.69×2.13×2.18m (interior), can load up to 28cbm
- 40-Foot Container: 40″ x 8″ x 8″ (exterior) and 11.8×2.13×2.18m (interior), can load up to 58cbm
High cube containers:
- 40HC Container: 40″x8″x9″ (exterior) and 11.8×2.13×2.72m (interior), load up to 68cbm
- 45HC Container: 44.5″x8″x8″ (exterior) and 13.58×2.34×2.71m (interior), load up to 86cbm
Shipping Containers vs. Storage Containers: What is the Difference?
Shipping containers and storage containers are often used interchangeably, but they have some key differences that you should know. Here are some of the main differences between shipping containers and storage containers:
Purpose: Shipping containers are designed to store and transport goods across long distances by sea, land or air. They have to meet strict standards for dimensions, quality and safety set by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Storage containers are mainly used to store goods on-site or locally. They do not have to follow any specific regulations and can be customized to fit different needs.
Material: Shipping containers are made of high-grade steel that can withstand harsh weather conditions, corrosion and impact. They have a rigid structure and a closed top that protects the cargo inside. Storage containers can be made of lower-grade steel or other materials such as wood, plastic or metal. They may have a removable roof or open sides that allow easy access to the contents.
Size: Shipping containers come in standard sizes such as 10ft, 20ft or 40ft long, 8ft wide and 8.6ft high. Some variations include high cube containers (9.6ft high) or flat rack containers (collapsible sides). Storage containers can come in any size and shape depending on the customer’s preference. Some common sizes include 8ft, 10ft, 12ft or 16ft long, 7.5ft wide and 7.5ft high.
How Many 20ft Container can a Ship Hold?
The number of 20ft containers that a ship can hold depends on the size and design of the ship. A common way to measure the capacity of a ship is by using the unit of twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU), which is equal to one 20ft container. According to some sources, the first freight liners used to be able to transport around 100 TEU shipping containers, while the largest ships today can hold as many as 24,000 TEU containers. That means that these ships can carry up to 24,000 20ft containers or 12,000 40ft containers (which are equivalent to two 20ft containers). However, this is only an estimate based on the maximum possible capacity of the ship. The actual number of containers that a ship can hold may vary depending on factors such as weight, volume and loading efficiency.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a standard shipping container?
A standard shipping container is a metal box that is used to transport dry goods by sea, land or air. It follows the dimensions and quality standards set by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). A standard shipping container has a set of doors on one end and can be made of aluminum or steel. The most common sizes of standard shipping containers are 20ft and 40ft long, 8ft wide and 8.6ft high. Standard shipping containers are durable, versatile and widely available in the container market. They can carry almost any type of cargo, except for liquids or goods that require temperature control.
As you can see, different types of containers serve different purposes and needs. Therefore, it is important to choose the right type of container for your cargo. For example, if you are dealing with hazardous or perishable goods, you need to use insulated or refrigerated containers that can protect them from damage. You also need to consider the storage space and the tare weight of the container before making a decision.
We hope this article has given you a clear overview of the various container types and sizes and helped you gain more knowledge and confidence in this field.