What Are the Different Types of Shipping Containers That Exist Today?

What Are the Different Types of Shipping Containers That Exist Today?

More than $66.6 billion worth of freight travels by truck between the U.S. and Canada each year. That doesn’t even include the international freight that travels by ship.

All of this freight gets transported in shipping containers, whether it travels by truck, rail, or ship.

The real question is, with so many different types of transported goods, how do they all arrive in good shape? The answer lies in the different types of shipping containers.

Read on to learn about the many kinds of shipping containers that make cargo travel possible.

Dry Storage Container

When you think of a storage or shipping container, you’re most likely picturing a dry storage container. This is the most common type of container and you’ll notice them on semi-trailers and rail cars.

These containers feature a door at the rear end. They also come in a range of sizes, with 10 feet, 20 feet, and 40 feet being the most common.

If you’re looking for a used shipping container, the most widely available type will be a dry storage container. You can use them for storage, transport, or even as a building structure.

Refrigerated or Insulated Container

Refrigerated or insulated containers are used to carry goods that need to travel at a controlled temperature. Refrigerated trucks, also known as reefers, are mostly used to carry produce and other perishable foods.

Insulated or thermal containers also offer temperature control, but they can keep the goods at warm temperatures. Unlike reefers which have a condenser unit built in, thermal containers work by keeping heat inside.

Open Top Container

Open top containers look just like dry storage containers, except the top is open. You have the option to partially or totally remove it depending on what you’re carrying.

It’s often used to transport items that are too tall for a standard dimension trailer. This can include things like building materials or parts of a pre-fab structure.

Flat Rack Container

A flat rack container is a unique option because it has collapsible sides. It allows you to convert the same shipping container into a flatbed semi-trailer. The ends don’t collapse so you’ll still have front and back protection.

This container gives you double the options of a standard dry storage container. It’s useful for hauling items that are too wide for a normal trailer, such as construction materials.

Tunnel Container

Tunnel containers feature a door at either end. They’re a lot like standard dry storage containers but they have double the doors. These can help speed up loading and unloading time as you can access them from both sides.

These containers are ideal where the cargo needs to be moved quickly, like anything perishable.

Which Types of Shipping Containers Do You Need?

Once you understand the main types of shipping containers, you can choose the right one for your needs. While there are other types of containers like tank containers and car carriers, these are the most widely available types.

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