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Business Guide to Choosing the Right Shipping Container

Sep 9, 2019

The non-standardized shipping system that has prevailed for centuries of sea trading is referred to as break bulk cargo. Back then, all sorts of goods were stored into sacks, barrels, and crates, and were loaded separately by workmen on to docked ships. Shipping cargo from one point to another was a slow, expensive and labor-intensive process because it involved the need to hire a huge number of dock workers who had to deal with a lot of time-consuming packing and unpacking in the ports.

Before the widespread use of standardized containers across the shipping industry, cargo ships spent a lot of time moored on the port instead of voyaging out at sea to transport all sorts of products. As a result, a lot of goods stayed locked up in warehouses for a long time before being shipped out to their respective port destinations. 

Among the non-standardized break bulk era’s other major drawbacks were the big overhead expenses involved in hiring port workers, increased risk of damage to goods due to careless handling, as well as rampant theft among longshoremen, which cumulatively cost businesses that relied on the antiquated cargo shipping method to lose massive sales. 

Thanks to businessman Malcolm McLean’s initiatives that lead to the standardization of shipping containers in the 1950’s, shipping all over the world has become quicker and more cost-efficient. McLean, hailed by the International Maritime Hall of Fame as ‘man of the century,’ had his humble beginnings in the trucking industry during the mid-30s.  He soon scaled up his company, and upon seeing how much space was wasted in cargo ships, he moved on to tap the lucrative business opportunity he saw in standardizing shipping containers. His work with engineer Keith Tantlinger led to the intermodal container design, which is the earliest version of durable, stackable, lockable shipping containers.

This standardization of shipping containers has allowed the current possibility of businesses like yours to select the perfect kind of container suited for transporting many types of goods to various destinations all over the world. 

The Benefits of Containerization

The rise of free trade and globalization has been widely credited to the proliferation of shipping containers in the transportation industry. Whether you are a consumer of high-end electronics from Japan, or grocery items that could only be found in the United States of America, tankers and massive container ships that are able to carry billions of tons of goods every year have most probably played a role in getting those products in your hands. 

Containerization has made it possible for companies to economically ship goods in large volumes, as businesses are able to maximize cargo ship capacities. Using ISO (International Organization for Standardization)-approved containers in cargo ships through sea routes is also known to be the most carbon-efficient type of transportation because it generates fewer gas emissions compared to road, air, or train travel. It should also be noted that a great number of containers currently in use globally are 98% recyclable, which is a huge plus for lowering environmental footprint

Whether your company deals with distributing dry goods, groceries, or perishable items, you can now choose from a range of ISO-approved shipping containers that come in different types and sizes. It’s incredibly vital to pick the correct kind of shipping container for your goods because each type is equipped with features made to house specific product categories.

Types of Shipping Containers

1. Standard Container

Made of corrugated steel, the standard container is the most common kind of container used for cargo shipping. Also called a general-purpose container or dry standard container, it’s primarily used by businesses that need to transport groceries, as well as many other types of dry goods from one port to another.

This variant comes in three sizes. There are 20-, 40-, and 45-foot standard containers available in the market today.  

2. Xtainer

The Xtainer is a patented standard container with added specifications for storing groceries and many types of dry goods. Some of its extra features include a high-security door lock to ensure that goods do not fall out during transit, an extra-strength handle that allows for easy access, as well as an eco-friendly bamboo floor. 

3. High Cube

High cube or Hi-Cube containers are used for high-volume, light-weight cargo. They are virtually the same in design as standard shipping containers but have an added foot in height that allows for more products to be stored. 

4. Reefer Container

Also called refrigerated containers, these are used to transport perishable goods. Reefer shipping containers are equipped with temperature, humidity, atmosphere, and ventilation controls to safely ship fruits, seafood, dairy products, and other fresh produce over long distances. This type of container typically maintains temperatures from -65˚c up to -40˚ C.

5. Open Top Container

This type of container has a convertible roof that is suitable for shipping irregularly-shaped or oversized cargo that needs to be loaded from the top with cranes. The standard sizes for open top shipping containers are 20 or 40 feet. 

6. Flat Rack Shipping Container

The Flat Rack container is another versatile kind of vessel mostly used for pipes, cables, steel coils, and heavy machinery. It can be used to store a great variety of bulk cargo and irregularly shaped items because its features allow goods to be loaded through its sides, or from the top.  Flat Rack shipping containers feature collapsible side and end walls, making it possible to stack many of these containers together. 

7. Car Shipping Container

Used by car dealers across the world to ship vehicles of different sizes overseas, car containers can be divided into several layers according to specifications. Inside, the vehicles are securely tied down according to standards to keep them safe during transport.  

8. Pen Shipping Container

The pen container, also called the livestock shipping container is used to transport farm animals. Pen shipping containers could be customized with additional floors, sidewalls, stalls, a feed storage segment, ventilation partitions and other specs that will fit your specific needs.

Transport Your Goods Safely and Efficiently

Choosing the right kind of shipping container to transport your products helps streamline your logistics in many ways.  With the right kind of container, you can save on logistics expenses because your capacity to deliver goods is maximized. You can also save on precious loading and unloading times, and most importantly, you will be able to safeguard the quality of your goods so that consumers will continue to patronize your business.

Find the right one and check out the wide selection of BSL shipping containers available to meet your cargo storage needs.