[Guide] What kind of shipping container should I use?

[Guide] What kind of shipping container should I use?


4 minute read | By Denholm Good Logistics

Last updated: January 17, 2024 | Published: February 5, 2018


You’ve no doubt seen many pictures of container ships similar to the one above, but despite the variances in colours, it’s not always obvious that the shipping containers you see have different uses, even though they may look the same.

Understanding your options when it comes to shipping containers will ensure you choose the best container for your goods, which means your shipment is more likely to arrive safe and intact at its destination. The type of container you need will depend on the goods you need to transport, so here is a list of the most commonly used containers and what they are used for to help you determine which one you need.

Standard Container

Standard Shipping Container

Standard containers are the most popular option for shipping by sea freight and are used for shipping dry cargo typically packaged in boxes and pallets. Standard containers are metal boxes typically measuring either 20ft or 40ft in length, the roof, floor and sides are fixed except for one end which has a door making it easy to load and unload. Containers are designed to be moved easily between modes of transportation. Standard shipping containers measure 7ft 10 inches high, however, high cube containers are taller,  the usual height is 8ft 10inches.

 20′ Standard Container Dimensions

5.898 m 2.352 m 2.393 m 2.340 m 2.280 m
19′ 4 1364 ” 7′ 8 1932 ” 7′ 10 732 ” 7′ 8 18 ” 7′ 5 4964 ”

40′ Standard Container Dimensions

12.032 m 2.352 m 2.393 m 2.340 m 2.280 m
39′ 5 4564 ” 7′ 8 1932 ” 7′ 10 732 ” 7′ 8 18 ” 7′ 5 4964 ”

High Cube Container Dimensions

12.032 m 2.352 m 2.698 m 2.340 m 2.585 m
39′ 5 4564 ” 7′ 8 1932 ” 8′ 10 732 ” 7′ 8 18 ” 8′ 5 4964 ”

Specialist Shipping Containers

Depending on the goods you are shipping, you might need to use one of the container types listed below to ensure your goods are transported safely.

Garments on Hangers Container

A garments on hangers container is much the same as a standard container, except it has the facility to transport clothing items without folding, offering increased flexibility, higher internal load capacity and savings on transportation and handling costs. Customers have the option of using a string or bar system, or a combination of both.

Flat Rack Container

A flat racks container is used for oversized cargo and is missing two side walls and the roof when compared to the standard container. They’re available with both fixed and collapsible end walls.

Platform Container

A Platform Container is as it sounds just a platform with no sides and no roof.

Flexitank Container

A flexitank container is a container with a flexible tank inside used to transport non-hazardous liquid. A flexitank container can carry between 10,000 and 24,000 litres, depending on the chosen container size.

Insulated Container

An insulated container is used to maintain the temperature of the goods inside. Dry ice or bubble wrap can be used to achieve the required effect. Often used by food, pharmaceutical and biotech industries, where maintaining the correct temperature of a shipment is essential.

Open Top Container

An open top container opens from the top to simplify loading and unloading of heavy, bulky, tall or awkward goods. It has removable tarpaulin and bows for a roof and allows access for a crab or crane.

Reefer Container

A reefer container is refrigerated to keep goods at a constant temperature lower than 15 degrees. Typically used to transport food and perishable items.

Ventilated Container

A ventilated container is used to transport items that need to be protected from condensation. Small ventilation systems in the walls prevent a build-up of moisture without compromising the available space inside.

If you’re still not sure which container you need, contact us, and we’ll be happy to advise which container would be most suitable for your goods.

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