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Different Types of Shipping Containers

Explore the various types of shipping containers available to cater to different cargo and storage requirements. Each container type serves a specific purpose, ensuring optimal safety, efficiency, and convenience for your shipping or storage needs. Learn about the different container options provided by Spinnaker Leasing & Equipment and select the one that best suits your specific requirements.

Standard Containers

Standard dry cargo containers, also referred to as general-purpose containers, are the most commonly used type of shipping container for general shipping purposes. They are designed to transport a wide array of dry goods, including packaged products, machinery, electronics, textiles, and more. These containers are made of steel and have a weatherproof construction to protect the cargo from external elements

Standard dry cargo containers are available in various sizes, with the most common options being 10 feet, 20 feet, and 40 feet.

  • 10-foot container: This smaller size option is suitable for transporting a relatively smaller quantity of goods or when space is limited. It has a length of 10 feet, a width of 8 feet, and a height of 8 feet 6 inches.
  • 20-foot container: The 20-foot container has a length of 20 feet, a width of 8 feet, and a height of 8 feet 6 inches.
  • 40-foot container: The 40-foot container has a length of 40 feet, a width of 8 feet, and a height of 8 feet 6 inches. It offers a larger capacity of around 2,350 cubic feet.
Standard Containers
Standard dry cargo containers

Standard dry cargo containers are versatile and are used for various applications across industries. Some common uses include:

  • International shipping: These containers are widely used for transporting goods from country to country, ensuring secure and efficient transportation.
  • Intermodal transportation: Standard containers are designed for a seamless transition between different modes of transportation, including ships, trains, and trucks. They can be easily loaded, unloaded, and transferred without any need to repack the cargo.
  • Storage: Standard containers can provide excellent temporary or long-term storage solutions. They are suitable for storing goods at ports, construction sites, warehouses, or for personal storage needs.
  • Modular structures: Due to their sturdy construction, containers can be modified and repurposed as modular structures, such as offices, housing units, or pop-up shops.

Refrigerated Containers

Refrigerated containers, also known as reefer containers, are specifically designed for transporting temperature-sensitive cargo requiring precise temperature control throughout the shipping process. They are widely used for transporting perishable goods, such as produce, dairy products, meat, seafood, and pharmaceuticals.

Reefer containers are equipped with a built-in refrigeration unit that allows for precise temperature control within a specified range. The temperature range usually varies from -30°C (-22°F) to 30°C (86°F), depending on the specific model. The key features of reefer containers include:

Temperature Control: Reefer containers provide accurate temperature control to maintain the desired climate for the cargo. The temperature can be set and adjusted according to the specific requirements of the container’s contents.

Insulation: These containers are designed with high-quality insulation materials to maintain the temperature without fluctuations and ensure the cargo remains within the desired temperature range.

Air Circulation: Refrigerated containers possess a ventilation system that allows for proper air circulation and temperature distribution within the container. This capability enables the container to maintain a uniform temperature.

Monitoring and Alarms: Reefer containers are equipped with temperature monitoring systems that constantly monitor the internal temperature. Alarms and alerts are triggered if the temperature deviates from the set range, ensuring immediate attention and action to prevent any damage to the cargo.

Refrigerated storage Containers
reefer containers

Reefer containers have countless uses in various industries. Discover some of their purposes below!

Food Industry: These containers are commonly used for transporting perishable food products, including fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, meat, seafood, and other frozen goods. Reefer containers preserve the quality and freshness of these goods while in transit.

Pharmaceutical Industry: Reefer containers are crucial for transporting temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals and vaccines. These items require a controlled environment to maintain their efficacy over time.

Floral Industry: Flowers and plants are often transported in reefer containers to preserve their freshness and extend their shelf life, which is especially useful for long-distance shipments.

Open-Top Containers

Open-top containers feature a removable roof, providing easy access for loading and unloading oversized or heavy cargo. Unlike standard containers with fixed roofs, open-top containers offer flexibility in accommodating cargo that exceeds the dimensions or weight limitations of standard containers.

Instead of a fixed roof, these containers have a removable tarpaulin or a convertible roof system, which can be easily removed or rolled back to expose the top of the container. This design allows for convenient loading of cargo from the top using cranes, hoists, or other equipment.

Open-top containers are well-suited for industries that involve oversized goods, bulk materials, or cargo that cannot be easily loaded through standard container doors. Some examples include:

Machinery and Equipment: Open-top containers are commonly used for transporting heavy machinery, industrial equipment, generators, turbines, or large components that cannot fit within the dimensions of standard containers. The open-top design allows for efficient loading and unloading of these items through lifting equipment.

Construction Materials: Steel rods, pipes, timber, precast concrete elements, and other bulk construction materials frequently require open-top containers for transportation due to their length, size, or irregular shape.

Large and Bulky Cargo: Cargo such as oversized vehicles, boats, or aircraft parts can be efficiently transported using open-top containers for convenient loading and unloading.

To load cargo into open-top containers, careful planning should occur first. Consider some of the following elements listed below.

Cargo Preparation: Before loading these containers, make sure that the cargo is properly prepared, packaged, and protected to withstand transportation conditions, including potential exposure to weather elements.

Loading Equipment: Cranes, forklifts, or other equipment are typically used to lift and position the cargo onto the open-top container. These tools ensure safe handling and precise placement.

Securing Methods: Cargo inside open-top containers must be sufficiently secured to prevent shifting or movement during transit. Common securing methods include lashing with ropes, using ratchet straps, or utilizing specialized fittings and securing points within the container.

Tarpaulin or Roof Covering: Once the cargo is loaded, the open-top container is covered with a tarpaulin or a roof covering to protect the cargo from weather conditions while in transit. The covering must be fully secured to prevent movement during the container’s journey.

Be mindful that, when using open-top containers, special attention should be dedicated to protecting the cargo from weather elements, as open-top containers leave cargo more exposed to the outside. Extensive planning and adherence to safety guidelines are crucial when utilizing open-top containers to ensure the successful transportation of oversized or heavy cargo.

Flat Rack Containers

Flat rack containers feature walls only at the short sides of the container, providing an open and flat platform for easy loading and transportation of irregular-shaped or oversized cargo. These containers are particularly designed to accommodate goods that cannot fit within the dimensions of standard containers due to their size, shape, or weight.

They typically have a steel frame and a wooden or steel floor, allowing for the secure placement of cargo, and they are available in 20-foot and 40-foot options. The collapsible or fixed ends provide stability and support during transportation. Flat rack containers are ideal for transporting various types of oversized cargo. Some examples of cargo suited for flat rack containers include:

Vehicles: Flat rack containers are commonly used to transport vehicles such as cars, trucks, or tractors. The open sides of flat rack containers allow for easy loading and securing of vehicles.

Machinery: Irregular-shaped machinery or equipment that cannot fit within the dimensions of standard containers benefit from flat rack containers. This includes large industrial machinery, generators, or manufacturing equipment. Bulldozers and excavators are perfect examples of this use.

Materials: Cargo that exceeds the weight capacity of standard containers, such as heavy construction materials like steel beams, pipes, or large precast concrete elements, can be efficiently transported on flat rack containers.

Flat Rack Containers

Proper securing of cargo on flat rack containers is crucial to ensure safe transport. Using flat rack containers requires the following steps and considerations.

Blocking and Bracing: Cargo should be properly blocked and braced within the flat rack container to prevent shifting and movement in transit. This can be achieved using wooden or steel dunnage, blocks, or braces to create a stable and secure set-up.

Lashing and Tie-Downs: Cargo should be securely lashed and tied down using appropriate restraints such as steel chains, straps, or ropes. These restraints should be placed around the cargo, passing through the container’s lashing points or fittings, and tightened sufficiently to minimize movement.

Over-dimensional Cargo: In the case of over-dimensional cargo that extends beyond the flat rack container’s boundaries, it may require additional securing measures such as special permits, escorts, or the use of additional supports and bracing to maintain stability.

Load Distribution: The weight distribution of the cargo on the flat rack container should be properly balanced to prevent overloading or excessive stress on one end. This is particularly important for maintaining the stability and structural integrity of the container during transport.

Find Your Perfect Shipping Container with Spinnaker

When your company is seeking high-quality shipping containers to buy or lease, Spinnaker Leasing & Equipment has a wide array of dependable options to choose from. Reach out for a quote today and discover the options Spinnaker can offer to you!