10 Types of Containers Your Cargo Is Often Shipped In [+ FAQs]

In this article, we will be taking a closer look at the various types of containers commonly used in global shipping operations. Our aim is to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the different container options available and their respective functionalities. 

Whether you are a seasoned industry professional or simply curious about the logistics behind international trade, this guide is designed to offer valuable insights into the world of container shipping.

1. Dry Container

Dry containers, also known as general-purpose containers, are the most common type used in shipping. These containers are typically made of steel and are designed to transport a wide range of non-perishable goods such as electronics, textiles, machinery, and consumer goods. 

Available in standard sizes (20ft and 40ft), dry containers offer secure and weatherproof storage during transit. Their versatility and widespread availability make them a cost-effective choice for most cargo types.

2. Reefer Container (Refrigerated Container)

Reefer containers, or refrigerated containers, are equipped with built-in refrigeration units to maintain specific temperature settings, making them ideal for transporting perishable goods over long distances. These containers are crucial for industries such as agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and food processing, where temperature control is paramount.

Reefer Refridgerated Containers

Reefer containers come in various sizes and can maintain temperatures ranging from -30°C to +30°C, ensuring the safe transportation of products like fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, and vaccines.

3. High Cube Container

High cube containers are similar to standard dry containers but offer additional vertical space. With an extra foot of height compared to standard containers, high cube containers are suitable for cargo that is bulky or tall and cannot fit into standard-height containers. 

These containers are often used for transporting furniture, machinery, construction materials, and other oversized items. The extra space allows for more efficient packing and maximises cargo volume, making them a popular choice for various industries.

4. Tank Container

Tank containers, also known as ISO tanks, are specialised containers designed for transporting liquids, gases, and powders in bulk. These containers feature cylindrical or rectangular tanks made of stainless steel, surrounded by a protective outer shell.

Tank Container

Tank containers come in various sizes and are equipped with safety features such as pressure relief valves and spill containment systems to ensure safe transportation of hazardous and non-hazardous materials. They are commonly used for transporting chemicals, oils, liquefied gases, food products, and pharmaceuticals.

5. Open Top Container

Open top containers feature a removable top (either tarpaulin or convertible roof) that allows for easy loading and unloading of oversized or heavy cargo. These containers are suitable for transporting goods that cannot be loaded through the standard container doors, such as machinery, vehicles, industrial equipment, and large project cargo.

Open Top Container
Image Credits: Transport Planning

Open top containers provide flexibility and convenience for handling bulky or irregularly shaped items, making them a preferred choice for industries like construction, mining, and automotive.

6. Open Side Container

Open side containers, also known as side open containers or full-side access containers, have one or more sides that can be fully opened, providing unrestricted access to the cargo space. Unlike standard containers that only have doors at one end, open side containers allow for easy loading and unloading of cargo from the side, making them suitable for oversized or awkwardly shaped items.

Open Side Container
Image Credit: R H Container Services

These containers are commonly used in industries such as construction, aerospace, and manufacturing, where large or heavy components need to be transported.

7. Flat Rack Container

Flat rack containers are specialised containers with collapsible or removable sides, allowing for easy loading and unloading of oversized or irregularly shaped cargo. These containers have a flat base and may feature fixed or collapsible end walls, making them suitable for transporting goods like machinery, vehicles, boats, and industrial equipment.

Flat Rack Container

Flat rack containers offer flexibility and versatility for handling cargo that cannot fit into standard containers due to size or shape constraints.

8. Insulated Container

Insulated containers, also referred to as thermal containers or reefers without refrigeration units, are designed to regulate temperature and humidity levels inside the container, providing protection for temperature-sensitive cargo. 

These containers are equipped with insulation materials and ventilation systems to maintain stable environmental conditions during transit. Insulated containers are commonly used for transporting goods such as pharmaceuticals, chemicals, electronics, and perishable food items that require protection from extreme temperatures and humidity fluctuations.

9. Swap Body Container

Swap body containers, also known as demountable containers or demountable bodies, are interchangeable containers designed for intermodal transportation. These containers feature a standardised size and structure that allows for easy transfer between different modes of transport, including trucks, trains, and ships.

Swap Body Container
Image Credit: Wikipedia

Swap body containers are commonly used for transporting goods such as bulk cargo, palletized freight, and oversized items. They offer flexibility and efficiency in logistics operations, allowing for seamless integration into supply chains and transportation networks.

10. Special Purpose Container

Special purpose containers are customised containers designed to meet specific requirements for transporting unique or sensitive cargo. These containers are tailored to accommodate goods that cannot be adequately accommodated in standard containers due to size, shape, or handling considerations.

Some of these special purpose containers include:

Garmentainers: These containers are equipped with garment racks and hooks to facilitate the transportation of clothing items such as garments, textiles, and apparel. They are commonly used in the fashion industry for shipping bulk quantities of clothing products.

Ventilated Containers: Ventilated containers feature built-in ventilation systems to regulate airflow and humidity levels inside the container, making them suitable for transporting goods that require adequate ventilation, such as fresh produce, flowers, and agricultural products.

Livestock Containers: Designed specifically for transporting live animals, livestock containers are equipped with features to ensure the safety and welfare of the animals during transit. They may include partitions, feeding troughs, watering systems, and ventilation openings to provide a comfortable environment for the animals.

Car Carriers: Car carrier containers, also known as roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) containers, are designed for transporting vehicles such as cars, trucks, and motorcycles. They feature ramps or elevators for easy loading and unloading of vehicles and are commonly used in the automotive industry for shipping vehicles domestically and internationally.

Bulk Containers: Bulk containers are used for transporting dry bulk cargo such as grains, minerals, ores, and powders. They are equipped with features such as loading hatches, discharge valves, and internal baffles to facilitate the efficient handling and transportation of bulk materials.

Set Sail with Haulx Malaysia: Your Sea Freight Specialists

For those considering sea freight as their preferred mode of cargo transportation, Haulx Malaysia stands as a reliable partner. With decades of experience in the industry, we offer comprehensive freight forwarding services tailored to your specific needs. 

As a one-stop solution for shipping and logistics, we handle everything from pelepasan kastam kepada pergudangan with utmost efficiency and professionalism. Our team is dedicated to ensuring seamless transportation of your cargo, providing peace of mind and timely delivery. 

Trust Haulx Malaysia for your sea freight needs, and experience the difference our expertise can make in simplifying your logistics operations.

FAQ on Types of Containers of Shipping

When selecting a container, factors such as the type of goods being shipped, volume, weight, transportation mode, temperature requirements, and packaging considerations are crucial. 

It is essential to match the container type with the specific requirements of your cargo to ensure safe and efficient transit.

Yes, most container types come in standard sizes, but variations may exist to accommodate different cargo volumes and dimensions. It is advisable to consult with your shipping provider or penghantar barang to determine the most suitable container size for your needs.

Proper packaging and securing of cargo within the container are essential to prevent shifting, damage, or loss during transit. Utilise appropriate packaging materials, such as pallets, straps, dunnage, and blocking and bracing techniques, and follow industry best practices for securing different types of cargo effectively. 

Additionally, consider factors such as weight distribution, centre of gravity, and shock-absorbing materials to enhance cargo stability and safety.