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Shipping Containers - What's in a name?

13.03.2023 - Posted by Updated On 13.03.2023    

Depending on where you live, and what you do, shipping containers are called any number of names. No matter what they're called, at the very core they're all manufactured to a similar specification and are able to be universally handled, managed, and transported on nearly any container ship, train, and chassis in the world. However, it is important to note that there are sizes unique to Europe and America based on highway length restrictions and weight limits. That discussion aside, let's look at some of the common variations:

Conex Box: This term, according to our research, was first used by the US Military to refer to a "Container for Export", thus "Con Ex Box". The term is still in use today, mostly by active duty and military veterans, or those living in areas nearby a military base.

Sea Can: This shipping container nomenclature is harder to pin down to a specific region or industry. Obviously, it refers to a sea going shipping container, or can; hence carrying the name sea can.

ISO Sea Container: Given all of the potential variations between shipping lines, trucking and rail companies, we're fortunate that in the very early days of containerization everyone sat down and started working with a standard metric, which was assigned and committed to the International Standard Organization. Today, nearly ll containers are still built to ISO specifications.

Cargo Container: A shipping container that carries cargo, also referred to as a cargo container.

Intermodal Container: This is the only name that's potentially incorrect, since the term "intermodal" doesn't necessarily refer to the container itself but the type of contract used for moving it. Intermodal shipping means that a container is moved around the world with various transportation methods (vessels, trains, trucks) and each leg of the move may be carried under a different contract. The container goods carried inside will remain the same; it's just the legal term that's tied to it.

sea cans, conex boxes, shipping containers

No matter where you are in the world, chances are that something you're sitting on, touching, looking at, or eating/drinking from was carried in a shipping container. Containers touch our lives on a daily basis more than we can possibly comprehend. No matter where you're at in the world, and no matter what they're called, shipping containers, sea cans, conex boxes, or simple cargo containers have had an impact on what you're doing right now and what it cost to get it to you.

Did we miss a name that you're familiar with? If so, tell us in the comments or tweet it to us @ctnauction.

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