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Shipping Containers 101 Beginner’s Guide to Shipping Containers

Everyone knows what shipping containers are and even if you don’t, you’ve probably seen one but just don’t know it yet. Shipping containers have been around for more than 50 years, though the body that regulates container shipping and inspects containers known as the International Organization for Standardization was established shortly after.

Though 50 years may seem pretty short considering how many years the container-carrying vessels have been around, to date, freight companies have shipped millions of containers worldwide. To give you a clear picture of how many containers these are, consider that if all containers were lined up end to end, the entire line could circle the earth over two times.

What’s a Shipping Container

A shipping container is a transportation box used for transporting goods and freight mostly over water bodies. All shipping containers are standardized by a governing authority (ISO) and can be resealed once open.

Shipping Container Standardization

The standardization of shipping containers is important because it makes the entire process of moving containers by rail, road, or ship very easy. It also makes it easy for container manufacturers to make containers with a defined method to meet the market requirements.

Without proper standardization, transporting containers would be very costly and inefficient. Considering over three trillion dollars’ worth of products get shipped through containers every year, this would be a real bummer for container manufacturers and freight companies.

The International Organization for Standardization classifies containers into three main sizes.

• Standard container – These containers are suitable for any cargo with a height of 2.380 meters

• High cube containers- These containers are used to ship light, voluminous cargo with heights exceeding 2.67 m. The containers come in 2.68m and 2.69m variants.

• Open top containers- Open top containers are for cargoes with extreme heights that freight worker load using cranes because of their removable door headers.

• Flats- Flats are specialized containers for over width cargo and heavy-lifts. In the few cases of non-containerized goods, workers position these flats side by side.

Types of Shipping Containers

Shipping containers can be broadly categorized into six types. They are:-

1. Dry storage containers- Dry storage containers make a huge majority of every shipping container ever manufactured. The name dry storage is because these containers are used to ship dry goods of all types.

2. Flat Rack containers- Flat rack containers are great for shipping boats, cars, and construction equipment because of the collapsible sides which fold.

3. Open top containers- Open top containers are flat rack container’s smaller version. Unlike the flat rack containers, however, open-top containers have no roof and can accommodate goods of all heights like logs.

4. Open side containers- They have doors which can open completely to the side so it can accommodate a lot more items as compared to standard dry storage containers.

5. Refrigerated containers- refrigerated containers come with a refrigeration mechanism installed to keep the goods being moved cool. Most companies use refrigerated containers for perishable and sensitive goods like food or pharmaceuticals.

6. Custom shipping containers- Custom containers contain bespoke modifications fitted by a custom shipping container company to accommodate your particular set of goods.

Customized Shipping Containers

Custom shipping containers have custom modifications to accommodate particular client needs. These modifications may include but are not limited to built-in furniture, HVAC units, windows, indoor and outdoor lighting, and washrooms, to name a few.

These modified shipping containers are not limited to shopping but can extend their uses to retail shops, kiosks, or even restrooms. Custom shipping containers are derivatives of other shipping containers and therefore don’t require any standardization.

This information hopefully gives you a solid idea of shipping containers, their specifications, and their different types.

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