The shipping container, otherwise known as a cargo container or sea container, is probably one of the most important inventions made in the transportation sector in the last decade.
The modern sea container was created in 1956 by Malcom Mclean, an American trucker, with the help of Keith Tantlinger, an engineer. The dimensions for the first container were 10ft length, 8ft width, and 8ft height. The original units, similar to modern containers also featured a twist lock mechanism on the edges to enable stacking. The duo gave the patents for the designs to the industry which began the international standardisation of shipping containers.
Sea containers helped reduce transportation costs as well as reduce lead times by minimising inefficiencies at the ports. They eliminated the need for manual sorting for a majority of the goods, reduced reliance on warehousing, and made loading and offloading of shipping containers faster.
Over the years, the shipping container has evolved significantly with various design variations and sizes being introduced to cater for different needs. Size wise, two container versions (based on length) are common all over the world: 20ft and 40ft containers.
The USA has 48ft and 53ft shipping containers, but these are rarely used internationally. 10ft containers are also used worldwide but aren’t very common.
Types and sizes of shipping containers
Sea container types include:
1. General purpose containers. These are the most popular containers and are used to transport dry cargo. General purpose containers are available in 10ft, 20ft, and 40ft sizes. Custom sizes between 5ft and 40ft can also be made.
2. High-cube containers. These resemble general purpose containers in every way except in height. Instead of the standard height of 8ft 6in, high cubes are 9ft 6in to provide extra headroom for taller cargo. They are available in 20ft and 40ft, but custom sizes can be made.
3. Refrigerated/Insulated cargo containers. These are also referred to as reefers. They are insulated and fitted with refrigeration equipment to keep the goods inside chilled. These containers are used for transporting perishable items. They are available in 20ft, 40ft, and 40ft high cube variations. Custom sizes between 10ft and 40ft are also available.
4. Open top containers. These are similar to general purpose containers with the only difference being that their roof is cut off and replaced with a tarp. They are used for carrying extra tall items. Normal sizes are 10ft and 20ft, but custom sizes can be built.
5. Side opening containers. These type of containers have doors on the side in addition to the normal door to improve accessibility. Side doors can be added to any size and type of container.
6. Flat rack or bolster containers. These are flat racks fitted with collapsible walls used to transport out of gauge cargo. These are available in 20ft and 40ft variations.
The dimensions for the different size containers are as follows:
|Spec/Container Size||10ft Container||20ft Container||40ft Container/ High Cubes (HCs)|
|Internal Volume||15.89m3||32.85m3||67.5m3 (75m3 HCs)|
|Tare Weight (Approx.)||1,200kg||2,130kg||3,660kg|
|Gross Weight (Max)||10,160kg||30,500kg||30,500kg|
|Length||3.05m (10ft)||6.1m (20ft)||12.19m (40ft)|
|Height||2.59m||2.59m||2.59m (2.80m HCs)|
|Internal Height||2.39m||2.39m||2.39m (2.650m HCs)|
Because of the insulation and cooling mechanism, refrigerated containers have smaller internal dimensions that dry cargo containers. They do however retain the external dimensions as you shall see:
|Spec/Reefer Size||20ft Container||40ft Container||40ft High Cube|
|Tare Weight (Approx.)||2,700kg||3,900kg||4,150kg|
|Gross Weight (Max)||30,500kg||30,500kg||30,500kg|
|Length||6.1m (20ft)||12.19m (40ft)||12.19m (40ft)|
At Tiger containers, we provide all these containers for either sale or hire at competitive prices here in Australia. Contact us for more information.