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Open Top Containers: Design and Uses

24.03.2013 - Posted by    

Open top containers are a type of shipping container designed with for specific uses in mind.  This type of shipping container is similar to that of a standard 20' or 40' container, with one key difference:  the top of the container is not solid, and is removable.  This unique feature makes them very easy to load and carry over sized equipment, materials, bulk items like coal, or other similar items.

Open Top Container Dimensions and Materials

Open top containers are typically made of corrugated steel, and the flooring is either plywood or bamboo; just as a standard dry container is.  However, there are two significant structural differences:  the roof, and the door.  Open top containers have either a hard or soft top that can be lifted off for loading and carrying oversized items, and the door header is able to be swivelled out to accommodate fork lifts and other equipment during the loading process.

Open top containers come in standard container dimensions, that is 20' and 40' lengths.  These lengths are the industry standard as almost all vessels, and port/depot equipment is designed around these lengths.

Size feet / inches Internal dimensions
mm
feet / inches
Door openings
mm
feet / inches
Top opening
mm
feet / inches
Weight
kg
lb
Length Width Heigh Width Height Length Width Max gross Max payload
20 open top
20' x 8' x 8'6"
5,919
19' 5"
2,346
7' 8 5/16"
2,286
7' 6"
2,286
7'6"
2,253
7' 4 11/16"
5,490
18' 1/16"
2,223
7' 3 1/2"
30,480
67,196
28,000
61,728

 

Size feet / inches Internal dimensions
mm
feet / inches
Door openings
mm
feet / inches
Top opening
mm
feet / inches
Weight
kg
lb
Length Width Heigh Width Height Length Width Max gross Max payload
40 open top
40' x 8' x 8'6"
12,192
40'
2,338
7' 8"
2,289
7' 6 1/16"
2,289
7' 6 1/16"
2,253
7' 4 11/16"
11,810
38' 8 25/26"
2,223
7' 3 1/2"
32,700
72,090
28,700
63,272

 

Open Top Containers with Hard Tops

Hard top containers have a steel lid, or top, that can be added and removed with a fork lift or crane.  These types of containers are typically used to haul heavy equipment or cargo, or other dry goods.

 

open top, hard top container for sale

 

Open Top Containers with Soft Tops

Soft top containers have a tarp roof that is lashed into place by heavy eyelets/lashing rings, and supported laterally by roof bows.  Once in place, the roof bows not only support the tarp, but also provide some structural value as well.

 

open top, soft top container for sale

 

Open Top Container Uses

There are many uses for open top containers.  If you think of any heavy equipment that needs to be transported overseas which requires specialized knowledge to move, it may make more sense to have it transported in an open top container.  The open top container can be loaded and moved around the vessel and port just as a normal container, while not requiring the trained driver to be present to move it.  Other items which are typically carried in an open top container are spools of cable or wire, or similar items that need to be moved around by a crane.  A crane isn't able to load inside of a standard container, so an open top makes the most sense.
Other items may be:

  • Glass, marble or steel sheets,
  • Off height, large machinery.
  • Long steel bars or raw materials that can't be easily moved by a fork lift.
  • Long pipes.
  • Spooled items, such as wire and cable.
  • Coal, ore, or similar minerals that need to be loaded by a tippler

Buying an Open Top Container

Open top containers are typically harder to find than standard 20' and 40' containers.  Due to their custom uses, the companies that own them tend to use them for a fixed purpose and will keep them for the duration of their useful life.  If you have enough of a lead time in your need, you can find a company to manufacture them for you and have them delivered, however then you bear the cost of purchasing a new container, and open top containers tend to be more expensive than dry containers.  If you're looking for a used container, you can search on ContainerAuction.com for open top containers for sale.  If none are listed we encourage you to complete the form to contact one of our container sellers and inquire on available inventory in your area.

Open top containers aren't produced in the high volumes that dry containers are, and they tend to be available on the secondary market less frequently than other types of shipping containers.   This makes them a little more expensive, and harder to find.  That being said, they're very useful for loading and transporting large equipment, and raw materials.  If you have any general questions about open top containers please contact ContainerAuction.com and one of our staff will be happy to assist you.



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