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12 Different Types of Shipping Containers and Their Usage

Why is cargo shipped in standardized containers

The idea of shipping boxes that could be loaded onto trucks, moved to trains or ships and then loaded back onto trucks was conceived by a small time truck hauler from Maxton, North Carolina, by the name of Malcolm McLean. On a trip to deliver cargo to the Port of Hoboken, he had to wait half the day while the trucks in front of him were unloaded piece by piece and then loaded on to the ships. It struck him that the cargo could remain in the trucks and the trucks containers could be placed on the ships. It took him another 15 years and many hurdles including the purchase of a small shipping company to realize his dream.
By reducing the time and expense of loading a truck with goods and then unloading and loading those goods on to ships only to repeat the process at the port of destination, McLean greatly improved the process by removing the loaded container from the chassis. To enhance the process even more and in order to stack the containers in a more efficient manner, the next step was to standardize the size of the containers so that all trucks, trains, ships and ports around the word, could handle the containers. The first container shipment left Newark on April 26, 1956, carrying 58 containers, 35’X8’X8′ (The 35 foot length was the standard for trucks at that time) and travelled to Houston aboard the modified tanker ship with the auspicious name of Ideal X. It took another decade and the help of the United States Navy for the container to evolve into an international standard called the ISO (industrial standards organization) shipping container.

This standardization had global impact on world trade because it allowed manufacturers to load goods at the factories and ship directly to stores and warehouses without having to unload and transfer cargo along the way.
This one innovation substantially impacted globalization because shipping became so inexpensive that manufacturing could locate far from customers, bringing consumers an unimaginable variety of low cost goods from anywhere in the world. Currently, there are 5,000 freighters carrying over 14 million containers to ports all over the world.

How to determine what type of container suits your needs

ISO standard containers have been customized to meet the demands exporters and importers in international trade. With 12 different types of ISO containers and a variety of sizes within those types, it is possible to ship everything from bulk grains and raw materials to perishable commodities.

How to Identify Your Shipping Container

All shipping containers have serial numbers that serve as an identifying mark that helps shippers and freight forwarders track containers as they move through the shipping process. The identifying mark will look like this:

  • The first three letters are the owner code, which is an abbreviation for the name of the owner of the container and is registered with the ICB (International Container Bureau.)
  • The fourth letter is the product code: U for all freight containers; J for detachable freight container equipment and; Z for trailers and chassis.
  • Registration # is a 6 digit number that has been assigned by the owner operator to each container in their fleet.
  • Check digit # is a single digit number highlighted in a box. This is a control number used to verify the owner, product code, and serial number.

There will also be an identifying code for the type of container, the tare weight (which is the weight of the empty container), gross weight and maximum payload.

How to Book a Non-standard Container

When shipping over-sized cargo, the dimensions and weight will determine which container type will accommodate your shipment. This information and a photograph or a spec sheet must be submitted to the freight forwarder, who will handle the booking with the shipping company. They will give you a detailed assessment of fees and they will customize the solution for your cargo.

The Different of Shipping Containers and Their Specifications

The 20-foot Dry Container Specifications:

Container Reference Code: 22GP

 

Container Application: The 20-foot dry container is for general purpose cargo.
Container Dimensions: Width Height Length
Door opening in feet 7′ 8 ⅛” 7′ 6 ¼”
Door opening in 2.34 m 2.29 m
meters
Interior dimensions in feet 7′ 8 ⅝” 7′ 6 ¼” 19′ 4 ¼”
Interior dimensions in meters 2.34 m 2.29 m 5.9 m
Container Weight Max Gross Tare Max Payload
Weight in lbs 52,831 lbs 4,914 lbs 47,899 lbs
Weight In kgs 23,956 kg 2,229 kg 21,727 kg
Container Volume In CFT In CBM
Load Capacity 1,172 CFT 33.2 CBM

The 20-foot Flat Rack Container Specifications:

Container Reference Code: 22PC

 

Container Application: The 20-foot flat rack container is for especially heavy loads, over-sized cargo, construction equipment, building supplies or heavy machinery.
Container Dimensions: Width Height Length
Interior dimensions in foot 8′ 7′ 3 ⅞” 19′ 9 ¾”
Interior dimensions in meter 2.438 m 2.233 m 5.638 m
Container Weight Max Gross Tare Max Payload
Weight in lbs 99,200 lbs 6,400 lbs 92,800 lbs
Weight In Kgs 45,000 kg 2,900 kg 42,100 kg
Load Capacity

The 20-foot Open-Top Container Specifications:

Container Reference Code: 22U1

 

Container Application: The 20-foot open-top container is for over-height cargo and top loading.
Container Dimensions: Width Height Length
Door opening in feet 7′ 8 ⅛” 7′ 6 ¼”
Door opening in 2.34 m 2.29 m
Interior dimensions in feet 7′ 8 ⅝” 7′ 10 ¼” 19′ 4 ¼”
Interior dimensions in meters 2.352 m 2.395 m 5.9 m
Container Weight Max Gross Tare Max Payload
Weight in lbs 52,897 lbs 5,297 lbs 47,619 lbs
Weight In kgs 23,994 kg 2,394 kg 21,600 kg
Container Volume In CFT In CBM
Load Capacity 1,172 CFT 33.2 CBM

The 20-foot Ventilated Container Specifications:

Container Reference Code: 22VH

 

Container Application: The 20-foot ventilated container’s for cargo that requires ventilation, typically used to transport green coffee beans, or similar cargo.
Container Dimensions: Width Height Length
Door opening in feet 7′ 8 ⅛” 7′ 6 ¼”
Door opening in 2.34 m 2.29 m
Interior dimensions in feet 7′ 8 ⅝” 7′ 10 ¼” 19′ 4 ¼”
Interior dimensions in meters 2.352 m 2.395 m 5.9 m
Container Weight Max Gross Tare Max Payload
Weight in lbs 52,897 lbs 5,297 lbs 47,899 lbs
Weight In kgs 32,500 kg 2,394 kg 21,727 kg
Container Volume In CFT In CBM
Load Capacity 1,172 CFT 33.2 CBM

20-foot Refrigerated Container:

Container Reference Code: 22RT

 

Container Application: The 20-foot refrigerated container for cargo that requires temperature control
Container Dimensions: Width Height Length
Door opening in feet 7′ 8 ⅛” 7′ 6 ¼”
Door opening in 2.34 m 2.29 m
Interior dimensions in feet 7’6″ 7′ 4 ⅞” 17′ 11 ⅝”
Interior dimensions in meters 2.28 m 2.33 m 5.45 m
Container Weight Max Gross Tare Max Payload
Weight in lbs 67,200 lbs 6,970 lbs 60,230 lbs
Weight In kgs 30,480 kg 3,160 kg 27,320 kg

40-foot General Purpose Dry Container:

Container Reference Code: 42GP

 

Container Application: The 40-foot dry container for general purpose cargo
Container Dimensions: Width Height Length
Door opening in feet 7′ 8 ⅛” 7′ 6 ¼”
Door opening in 2.34 m 2.29 m
Interior dimensions in feet 7′ 8 ⅝” 7′ 10 ¼” 37′ 11 ¼”
Interior dimensions in meters 2.352 m 2.395 m 12.01 m
Container Weight Max Gross Tare Max Payload
Weight in lbs 67,199 lbs 5,220 lbs 59,039 lbs
Weight In kgs 30,481 kg 3,701 kg 26,780 kg
Container Volume In CFT In CBM
Load Capacity 2,389.75CFT 67.67 CBM

40-foot Open Top Container:

Container Reference Code: 42 OT

 

Container Application: The 40-foot Open Top container for top loading excessively long or high cargo
Container Dimensions: Width Height Length
Door opening in feet 7′ 8 ⅛” 7′ 6 ¼”
Door opening in 2.34 m 2.29 m
Interior dimensions in feet 7′ 8 ⅝” 7′ 10 ¼” 39′ 5 ⅝”
Interior dimensions in meters 2.352 m 2.395 m 12.01 m
Container Weight Max Gross Tare Max Payload
Weight in lbs 67,196 lbs 8,487 lbs 58,709 lbs
Weight In kgs 30,480 kg 3,850 kg 26,630 kg
Container Volume In CFT In CBM
Load Capacity 2,389.75 CFT 66.67 CBM

40-foot High Cube Container:

Container Reference Code: 40 HQ or 40HC

 

Container Application: The 40-foot Open Top container for top loading excessively long or high cargo
Container Dimensions: Width Height Length
Door opening in feet 7′ 8 ⅛” 8′ 6 ¼”
Door opening in 2.34 m 2.56 m
Interior dimensions in feet 7′ 8 ⅝” 8′ 10 ⅛” 39′ 5 ⅝”
Interior dimensions in meters 2.352 m 2.69 m 12.01 m
Container Weight Max Gross Tare Max Payload
Weight in lbs 67,196 lbs 8,747 lbs 58,448 lbs
Weight In kgs 30,480 kg 3,968 kg 26,512 kg
Container Volume In CFT In CBM
Load Capacity 2,694 CFT 76.3 CBM

The 40-foot Flat Rack Container:

Container Reference Code: 42PC

 

Container Application: The 40-foot Flat Rack Container is for over-sized cargo, heavy machinery, construction equipment or supplies
Container Dimensions: Width Height Length
Door opening in feet NA NA
Door opening in NA NA
Interior dimensions in feet 7′ 4″ 7′ 5 ⅓” 39′ 3 ⅞”
Interior dimensions in meters 2.23 m 2.27 m 11.98 m
Container Weight Max Gross Tare Max Payload
Weight in lbs 98,326 lbs 12,897 lbs 85,429 lbs
Weight In kgs 44,600 kg 5,850 kg 38,750 kg
Container Volume In CFT In CBM
Load Capacity 1,860 CFT 52.7 CBM

The 40-foot Refrigerated Container Specifications:

Container Reference Code: 42 RT

 

Container Application: The 40-foot Refrigerated container is for cargo that requires temperature control or perishable cargo
Container Dimensions: Width Height Length
Door opening in feet 7′ 5 ⅜” 6′ 11 ⅞”
Door opening in meters 2.26 m 2.13 m
Interior dimensions in feet 7’5 ⅜” 7′ 1 ⅞” 37′ 11 ¼”
Interior dimensions in meters 2.26 m 2.18 m 11.48 m
Container Weight Max Gross Tare Max Payload
Weight in lbs 67,053 lbs 10,778 lbs 56,275 lbs
Weight In kgs 30,415 kg 4,889 kg 25,526 kg
Container Volume In CFT In CBM
Load Capacity 2,039.7 CFT 57.76 CBM

The 45-foot High Cube General Purpose Container:

Container Reference Code: L5GO

 

Container Application: The 45-foot High Cube Dry Container for general purpose cargo
Container Dimensions: Width Height Length
Door opening in feet 7′ 9½” 8′ 5 ¾”
Door opening in meters 2.37 m 2.58 m
Interior dimensions in feet 7′ 11″ 8′ 10″ 44′ 4 ¾”
Interior dimensions in meters 2.41 m 2.69 m 13.53 m
Container Weight Max Gross Tare Max Payload
Weight in lbs 74,960 lbs 10,910 lbs 64,050 lbs
Weight In kgs 3,4000 kg 4,950 kg 29,050 kg
Container Volume In CFT In CBM
Load Capacity 3,122 CFT 88.4 CBM

20-Foot Tank Container:

Container Reference Code: 22TO

 

Container Application: The 20-foot Tank Container for food stuffs oils and chemicals
Container Dimensions: Width Height Length
Exterior dimensions in feet 8′ 8′ 6″ 20″
Exterior dimensions in meters 2.43 m 2.59 m 6.09 m
Container Volume In U.S. Gallons In Liters
Load Capacity 6,450 gl 26,001 lt

 

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