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6 Types of Shipping Containers and Their Uses

18.07.2016 - Posted by Updated On 18.07.2016    

Shipping containers come in different sizes and types, and each has uniquely different applications. For the regular residential customer a standard dry container will fulfill most, if not all, of your storage needs. However, occasionally there may come a need for something a little more unique.

Excluding special types of containers such as DNV containers, there are six main types of shipping containers. Each of these six sizes comes in 20' and 40' lengths, and some can come in 45' lengths. Keep in mind that shipping containers designed for domestic use may come in larger sizes, but we'll leave those off the list as we rarely see them.

Dry Shipping Containers (sometimes called Standard Containers)

Dry shipping containers are by far the most common type of shipping container used in the industry today. They come in 20' and 40' lengths, and are used to transport all types of general, or dry, cargo.

High Cube Shipping Containers

High cube shipping containers are very popular in shipping, and later on for storage. They are 40' long, and occasionally 45' long. High cubes are typically used to transport light, large volume cargo, and any cargo up to a maximum of 9'3".

Vented Shipping Containers

Vented shipping containers aren't as common, but they do occasionally turn up at the depots around the United States. While not as popular for storage units, they are regularly used for transporting any type of cargo that requires extra ventilation - think green things (like coffee beans) or similar things.

high cube shipping container

Open Top Shipping Containers

Open top shipping containers are just that - containers with no fixed top. They come in 20' and 40' lengths and can have a hard top (made of steel) or a soft top (made from a tarp). Open tops are used to transport anything that is too tall for a normal container, or requires top loading abilities. Think of really heavy things that require a fork lift - slabs of marble or granite for example.

Flat Rack Shipping Containers

Flat racks come in 20' and 40' lengths, and can fold down flat, just as the name implies. They're used for transporting heavy loads, oversized loads, or things like construction equipment and building supplies. Examples of what would be transported on a flat rack would be bull dozers, heavy duty turbines, or large generators.

Refrigerated Shipping Containers

Lastly, we have refrigerated containers. These too come in 20', 40', and 40' high cube lengths. They are insulated and are climate controlled to keep things at a standard temperature, not necessarily just cold. Refrigerated containers are used to transport anything from bananas to pharmaceuticals.

Shipping containers touch nearly everything in your life (excluding the tomatoes in your garden, but the shovel that planted it probably moved around in a container), and most people don't even know it. Containers come in all a hand full of sizes and several different variations, including the six that we listed above.

refrigerated shipping container

If you are in the market for a new or used shipping container the sellers on can help you find it. The active sellers work with shipping lines and leasing companies around the world to help them remarket and sell their new and used inventory of shipping containers. To inquire about a specific container use the contact button on that page, or if you have general questions about shipping containers you are invited to contact the staff directly.

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