The Eight Most Common Types of Shipping Containers

The Eight Most Common Types of Shipping Containers

Shipping containers are a common sight at sea, on the road, and on the rails. What many people don’t know is that there are several types of shipping containers, each with its own purpose. Choosing the right container for the shipment is just one of the essential services a logistics provider offers. Today we’ll look at the nine most common container types and what they’re best suited for.

1. Dry storage container

These are easily the most common and plentiful containers in the shipping world. Dry storage containers are highly versatile and come in many sizes, but they aren’t temperature controlled, so they can’t be used to transport anything that requires refrigeration.

2. Open-side storage container

Open-side containers can open completely on one side, making it easier to load oversized items or anything that won’t fit through the ends of the container. The sides open on hinges, like doors, which are secured from the outside to keep cargo in place.

3. Flat rack container

Flat rack containers only have two vertical walls at each end and are open on the sides. These containers are a good choice for goods that do not quite fit into a standard container or won’t be affected by exposure to the elements, such as heavy machinery. Because there are no sides, goods must be adequately secured.

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4. Open top container

Usually used for shipping bulk cargo, open-top containers are virtually identical to dry storage containers—but without the top. Plastic roof structures or tarps can be secured over the top to protect cargo from the elements if needed.

5. Refrigerated ISO containers

Reefer containers, as they are often referred to, are used to transport goods that require refrigeration. They have onboard cooling units that maintain temperatures from -65˚ to 40˚ C but must be connected to electricity or a generator to stay powered up.

6. ISO Tanks

ISO tanks are used almost exclusively to transport liquids, including hazardous liquids like gas, oil, diesel, and other fuels, and non-hazardous bulk liquids like water, milk, liquified sugar, molasses, and various type of beverages. They are also occasionally used to transport sugar or other dry goods.

7. Half-height containers

As you might assume, half-height containers are half the height of standard, full-sized containers. Best for transporting heavy bulk cargo that requires easy loading and unloading, they are used to ship aggregate, stone, coal, pipes, anchors, chains, and bulk parts for various uses.

8. Special purpose containers

Special-purpose containers can be made in any shape or size and are ideal for oddly-shaped or oversized goods that require a custom container to transport them. These containers are quite a bit more costly to build and transport than your average container, so they are not used unless absolutely necessary.

Define What’s Best for Your Cargo

If you’re unsure about your container needs, partnering with a trusted logistics provider can help. DTS will work with you to help you choose the best container types for your cargo, helping you reduce complexity and costs no matter what you’re shipping.