Shipping: Minimising Void and Getting Boxes Full

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Which Type of Shipping Container is Right For You?

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In the early part of the 20th Century, people would transport things in shipping containers that were many different shapes and sizes. However, doing so presented many problems, as it was difficult to stack the containers on a ship and there was no guarantee that the containers would fit onto a train or truck when it arrived at its destination port. 

To solve this problem, in 1961 the International Standards Organisation standardised the size of intermodal shipping containers, specifying lengths of 20-feet and 40-feet. However, while shipping containers may now come in standardised sizes, that does mean that every shipping container is the same. Below is a guide to the different types of containers.

Dry Cargo

This is the most common type of shipping container. It features steel walls, flooring and roof, which are robust and protect the contents of the container from the elements.

Open Top

An open top container has the same characteristics as a dry cargo container, however as the name suggest, it does not have a roof. The open top allows cargo to be loaded directly into the container using a crane. A heavy canvas covering is used to cover the top of the container when it is in transit.

Flat Rack

A flat rack container is used to transport abnormal loads, such as industrial equipment and machinery. It consists of a solid floor and two walls at each end of the container. The sides are open, which allows an abnormal-sized cargo to be loaded and lashed into place.

Tank Containers

A tank container is designed to transport liquids and gases. It is constructed using a steel frame, which surrounds and protects an insulated tank. 

Thermal Containers

A thermal container features internal insulation on the walls and roof of the box. They are used to transport perishable foods and other items that need to be temperature controlled. There are two types of thermal containers available:

  • Non-mechanically refrigerated containers: These containers use liquefied gas or dry ice to cool in the interior of the box. They do not require any power source to operate.
  • Mechanically refrigerated containers: A mechanically refrigerated container needs an external power supply to work, much like a home refrigeration unit. A mechanically refrigerated container can maintain a steadier temperature compared to the non-mechanical type. However, there is the risk that if the power supply fails, the perishable goods will be ruined.

If you would like more information about the best type of container for your shipping needs, contact a shipping company today.


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