Types of Shipping Container

can be classified according to theintended purposeof the container.

Whether new or second-hand (seeused shipping containers),  they fall into one of two convenient categories:

ISO shipping container standards(see ISO 6346), set down in 1970, provides for standard shipping container dimensions.Homes made from containersare generally constructed using standard ISO containers of 20, 40 and 45 feet lengths.

High cube containersare slightly larger than those described below in that they provide an additional foot of height for bulkier cargo.

When people think ofshipping containers, general cargo boxes are normally what comes to mind. These are the steel containers that are visible in virtually every seaport around the world.

They are fully enclosed with strong, rigid walls, a roof and floor and resistant to the elements as well as animals, birds and vermin.

One of the walls is usually adapted to create an aperture for a door opening.

End loadershave a door at one of the ends on the shortest side, while some containers are fitted with side wall doors for convenient side loading.20 shipping containersand their 40 foot equivalents are the most common lengths while the standard width is 8 feet.

Sometimes, loading (also known aspacking) and unloading (also known asunpacking) cannot be easily accomplished through the end or side doors and therefore, special containers are used to do so.

Open top shipping containershave similar characteristics to dry cargo containers but do not have a hard top steel roof.

Instead, a canvas or reinforced cover is used to protect the cargo. The cover is supported on special roof bows.

Such containers are used for heavy, bulky or fragile items such as sheet glass or machinery.  Open top containers are sometimes in short supply and are not always available in some markets.

Flat rack containerslack the superstructure of enclosed, dry cargo boxes. They do not have, therefore, fixed walls or any load-carrying structures.

They do have special corner fittings at the top and bottom of the container to ensure safe stacking and handling at the container ports.

These containers might be used in the transport and distribution of wood or other heavy and difficult to manage objects.  They are not always available in some countries as supply is scarce.

Where goods need to be protected against excess moisture or humidity, special ventilation-adapted containers are used.

For the transportation of food, frozen, perishable or cold goods,shipping containersare adapted to maintain their internal temperatures.

Worldwide demand for these products have created a market and a requirement for different types of specific purpose container.

Thermal containers are known in the industry asreefers.  They are characterized by interior insulation on the doors, roof, floor and walls.

Used for prolonging the shelf-life of food items and perishables, thermal reefers help to restrict the temperature range inside the containers.

Reefers are commonly found in 20 foot and40 foot shipping containersizes and are further classified as follows:

Insulated shipping containers do not utilize any devices for temperature regulation.  Only the internal insulation helps maintain an ambient temperature.

Refrigerated shipping containershave no external power or energy supply, so cold temperatures are maintained using dry ice or liquified gas.

In these cases, a power supply is required to a refrigeration appliance.  This is provide on land at sea ports, on road distribution trucks, or even on some container ships.

Similarly, a power supply is needed to run a heat-producing device.

These containers transport items such as cars, other vehicles, livestock and poultry.

Dry bulk containers are used where no external packaging is required.  Grains and dry foodstuffs fall into this category.

Tank containersincorporate a tank for the transport and distribution of chemicals, gases and hazardous liquids.

There are then, 2 generalshipping container types:

In thedry cargocategory there are 3 further sub-types:

In thespecific purposecategory there are 4 sub-types:

Reeferscan be further sub-categorized into 4 sub-types:

In the early 1970s, the intermodal container industry was standardized to improve efficiencies and relieve congestion at international sea ports.

As such, shipping containers are governed by ISO mark 6346 where the following standard lengths are recognized:

Other non-ISO are also available in some countries.10 footand30 footalternatives are by far the most common.

In general, architects working oncontainer house planstend towards used dry cargo containers in their specifications.

By relying on ISO standard containers, architects and construction companies know that each container will easily stack and align perfectly with the next, in turn permitting easier conversion as well as structures with more than one storey.  SeeContainer City phases I and II in Londonfor a good example.

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