What Are The Five Types Of Containers?


The world of shipping has become increasingly reliant on containers in recent years, and there are five main types of containers used for transportation today. Understanding the differences between container types is essential for those looking to ship goods via container-based freight services.

Dry cargo container

The first type of container is a dry cargo container. As its name suggests, this container is typically used to transport items that don’t require refrigeration or other special conditions during transit. Dry cargo containers come in two primary sizes; 20 feet long by 8 feet wide (a 20-footer) and 40 feet long by 8 feet wide (a 40-footer). They have steel walls with openings at either end for easy loading and unloading and are often made out of Corten steel which can withstand the rigors of long sea voyages.

Refrigerated container

The second type is a refrigerated container, also known as a reefer. This type of container is used for goods that must remain at a specific temperature during transit. These containers typically keep food fresh or preserve pharmaceutical products. Reefers come in both 20-foot and 40-foot sizes and are equipped with advanced ventilation systems, insulation materials, and controllable thermostats to maintain an optimal internal climate. They also have additional features, such as temperature alarms or satellite connections, to help monitor cargo during its voyage.

Open top containers

The third type of container is an open-top container. This type of container is a dry cargo container that has been modified by removing its roof, allowing easy access to the interior. Open-top containers are primarily used to ship oversized or awkward items, such as building materials or machinery. They can also transport stacked goods or those with broad surfaces but just one side that needs access.

Flatrack containers

The fourth type of container is a flat rack container explicitly designed for bulky items that won’t fit into standard containers. Flatracks are available in 20-foot and 40-foot lengths and come equipped with either foldable walls or removable side panels for loading purposes. They have handy cranes on both ends and large open tops, making them ideal for construction equipment or automobiles.

Tank containers

The fifth type of container is a tank container. These are specialized containers that transport liquids, gases, and dry bulk goods. Depending on their cargo, they come in various shapes and sizes and have features such as ISO-standardized valves and fittings, insulation materials, and pressure relief systems. Tank containers also have discharge pipes allowing quick unloading at port destinations.

Why you need to know the container specifications before shipping your freight

Knowing the container specifications before you ship your freight by container-based freight services is essential. Knowing the correct size and type of container can ensure that your shipment arrives safely at its destination and is not damaged during transit. Additionally, selecting the appropriate type of container or equipment ensures that all regulations are observed, including those related to overloading or dangerous goods.

Furthermore, being adequately aware of what kind of containers are available for each cargo will ensure proper cost management and maximize profits for shippers who must account for every penny spent on their shipping efforts. For example, an incorrect selection may lead to additional costs, such as demurrage fees, when a container becomes too large due to miscalculations regarding size requirements and capacities.

On top of that wrong choice could also result in damage or delays caused by insufficient insulation material or ill-suited equipment if one fails to consider the weight limitations set by modes of transport like trucks or railcars when shipping heavy freight with tanks containers which are specialized types designed for liquids, gases and dry bulk goods.

Knowledgeable shippers then understand how important it is to choose wisely when searching through different types and sizes available. Failure here may cause financial losses and cause delays or even derail the entire supply chain. It is highly recommended to take some time to understand the different types of containers and their specifications before settling on one. Doing so will ensure you get your goods safely, securely, and without hiccups.

The benefits of using a professional freight logistics service provider

Using a professional freight logistics service provider can help you save time and money and allow for greater flexibility. Professional freight forwarders have the experience necessary to ensure that your cargo is properly packed and loaded, considering all relevant factors, such as container size, type, and mode of transport.

Freight forwarding companies also provide added benefits like tracking services, where shipments can be monitored in real-time via GPS or satellite connections. Additionally, they will take care of the paperwork and customs procedures associated with cross-border shipping, allowing for a more streamlined process overall.


Understanding the five types of shipping containers is essential for those looking to ship goods via container-based freight services. Each type of container has unique features and benefits for different types of cargo, making it essential to select the most suitable container for your goods. So, if you’re looking to ship something via a container-based freight service, be sure to do your research first to make an informed decision when selecting the correct type of container for your needs.

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