Shipping Containers - A Quick Guide.

Shipping Containers - A Quick Guide.

A shipping container, also known as a cargo container, is a large steel box used for the transportation of goods by sea, land, or air. It is a standardised size metal box designed to fit onto most container ships, trucks, and trains.

Shipping containers come in various sizes, the most common being 20-foot and 40-foot containers. They have a rigid steel frame, corrugated steel walls and doors at one or both ends, which can be locked for security. The containers are designed to be stacked on top of each other, allowing for efficient use of space on ships, trains, and trucks.

Shipping containers are used for various purposes, including transporting goods from one country to another, storing goods at ports and warehouses, and constructing homes, offices, and other buildings. They are also used for emergency housing and as temporary shelters in disaster zones.

What are the Standard Sizes of Shipping Containers?

The standard sizes of shipping containers are typically 20 feet, 40 feet and 45 feet in length. The most common sizes are the 20-foot container and the 40-foot container.

A standard 20-foot shipping container is approximately 20 feet long, 8 feet wide and 8 feet 6 inches high, with a capacity of about 1,170 cubic feet. It can hold about 10 to 11 standard pallets, depending on their size.

A standard 40-foot shipping container is approximately 40 feet long, 8 feet wide, and 8 feet 6 inches high, with a capacity of about 2,390 cubic feet. It can hold about 20 to 21 standard pallets, depending on their size.

In addition to the standard sizes, there are also high cube containers, which are one foot taller than the standard containers and there are smaller and larger containers available for specialized purposes.

Shipping Container Stacked Up

Can Shipping Containers be Modified or Customized?

Yes, shipping containers can be modified and customized for a variety of purposes. Shipping containers are inherently strong, durable and weather resistant, making them suitable for various modifications and customizations.

Some common modifications include adding doors, windows, insulation, electrical and plumbing systems, ventilation systems, partitions and shelving. Containers can also be combined or stacked to create larger structures.

Shipping containers can be modified for various purposes, such as offices, homes, retail spaces, workshops, storage units, etc. They are popular for building affordable and sustainable housing, especially in areas affected by natural disasters or housing shortages.

The modification process usually involves cutting and welding the steel walls of the container to create openings and adding necessary features. It is important to work with professionals who have experience in modifying shipping containers to ensure that the modifications are structurally sound, safe and meet local building codes and regulations.

Are Shipping Containers Waterproof?

Yes, shipping containers are designed to be waterproof and to protect the goods inside from the elements. Shipping containers are made of steel with corrugated walls and a welded steel frame. The walls and roof are also coated with a layer of rust-resistant paint to provide further protection from the elements.

The shipping container doors are fitted with rubber seals to prevent water from entering through the gaps. The container floor is typically made of marine-grade plywood, which is treated as water-resistant.

However, it is important to note that some older or poorly maintained shipping containers may develop leaks or rust, which can compromise their waterproofing. When purchasing or renting a shipping container, inspecting it thoroughly and ensuring it is in good condition is essential.

How Much Weight Can a Shipping Container Hold?

Shipping Container Weight

A shipping container's weight depends on its size and the weight distribution of the cargo inside. Here are some approximate weight limits for standard shipping containers:

A standard 20-foot container can hold up to 24,000 pounds (10,886 kg) of cargo, assuming a maximum payload of 67,200 pounds (30,391 kg).

A standard 40-foot container can hold up to 44,000 pounds (19,958 kg) of cargo, assuming a maximum payload of 66,139 pounds (29,937 kg).

It is important to note that the weight limit of a shipping container is not just determined by its size, but also by the weight-bearing capacity of the transportation vehicle and the regulations of the relevant authorities. It is also essential to ensure that the cargo inside the container is properly secured and distributed to prevent damage to the container or the cargo during transportation.

How are Shipping Containers Transported?

Shipping containers can be transported by sea, truck, or train. The transportation mode depends on the distance, destination and cargo type.

When transported by sea, shipping containers are typically loaded onto cargo ships at ports using cranes. They are stacked on top of each other and secured to the ship to prevent shifting during transport. Once the ship reaches its destination, the containers are unloaded using the same cranes.

When transported by truck, shipping containers are loaded onto specialized container trucks, also known as chassis or trailers. The container is lifted onto the truck using a crane or specialised lifting equipment, such as a reach stacker or side loader. The container is then secured to the truck using twist locks to prevent it from shifting during transport.

When transported by train, shipping containers are loaded onto flatbed railcars or intermodal trains. They are stacked on top of each other and secured to the train to prevent shifting during transport.

It is important to note that the transportation of shipping containers requires specialised equipment and training, and it is subject to regulations and safety standards to ensure safe and efficient transport.

How Long Can Shipping Containers Last?

Shipping containers are typically made from steel, and their lifespan can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the quality of the container, the environment in which it is stored and how well it is maintained.

Under normal circumstances, shipping containers can last anywhere from 5 to 25 years or more. However, some containers can last even longer with proper maintenance and care. In fact, many shipping containers have been known to last for up to 30 years or more.

Factors that can impact the lifespan of a shipping container include exposure to saltwater or other harsh elements, damage from accidents or improper handling and the quality of the original construction.

It's also worth noting that shipping containers can be repurposed for a wide variety of uses once they have reached the end of their useful life for shipping. For example, they can be used as storage sheds, workshops and even homes. So even if a container is no longer suitable for shipping, it may still have many years of useful life left in it.