Type of Container (Dry, Reefer, Open Top, Flat Rack, ISO Tank)
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About type of Container Dry/Reffer/Open Top/Flat Rack/ISO Tank

Explained Type of Container by Video

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This is 7:21 video.

Today, I would like to talk about the types of containers used in international Logistics.

There are various types of containers for ocean shipment. We deliver the various type of cargoes, such as food, industrial goods, chemicals and daily necessities to all over the world.

So, we have to choose the best container for each cargo transportation. What we focus today is the types, characteristics, and size of containers.

Container Types

First of all, let’s look at the types of containers.

・Dry container
・Reefer container
・Open top container
・Flat rack container
・ISO tank container

Typically, there are 20’foot and 40’foot containers.
This foot refers to length.So 20’foot is about 6 meters length and 40’foot is about 12 meters length.

Only in ISO tanks, container size is divided according to the size of their capacity, not feet. So let’s take a look at them.

Dry Container

The first is Dry container. Dry container has the function as a “box” for transporting cargo.
It is the most common container in the market and it’s mainly used for general cargo.

And it depends on the class, it is also used for dangerous cargo as well. From now, I will introduce various types of containers, but please understand this dry container is a standard container.

Reefer Container

Next, Reefer container. Reefer container is temperature-controlled containe, like a moving refrigerator.

Depends on a manufacturer, most containers can adjust temperature in the range of minus 30°C to +30°C. The temperature inside a container rises to 60 to 70°C just below the equator.

However, with Reefer containers, the inside temperature can be kept constant. Therefore, it is often used for food products and dangerous goods that require temperature control.

Open Top Container

Next is Open top container. Open top container is like Dry container without a ceiling. Since there is no ceiling, it is used for tall cargoes.

Open tops are also sometimes used to put heavy cargo into a container from the top. It’s not easy for loading heavy cargo that a normal 3 or 5 ton forklift can’t lift.

But it’s not that difficult to use an overhead crane or a wrecker at a factory to load from the top of a container. The cargo won’t get wet by rain because the ceiling is covered after the loading is done.

Flat Rack Container

Then Flat rack container. The flat rack is Dry container with no ceiling and no side walls. It is used for the cargo wider than the Dry container.

It is also used for not only oversized cargo, but also in-gauge items that can fit inside a container.

Even the in-gauge cargo but sometimes Flat Rack container will be used when the factory loading facility is not enough.

Flat Bed Container

The ocean freight are generally higher for Open top and Flat rack containers.
That’s because there is limited space on a container vessel for those containers.

For example, when carrying oversized cargo on Flat rack, it uses extra container space on both sides as well as the top. Ocean Freight is increased because it uses lots of places.

However, even if it is a special container, the space on a vessel is not limited for an in-gauge container, so the sea freight can be kept down.

ISO Tank Container

Finally, ISO tank container. ISO tank is used for liquid materials. It may be cheaper to put wine, juice, chemicals and so on directly into an ISO tank container than into a container with the drums.

Size of Container

Next, let’s talk about the size of the container.

20’Container Size

First is a 20’foot container. The size required for actual operations is internal container size.
20′ foot container is about 2.3m square and about 6m length.

You do not need to memorize the exact size, it’s OK to remember roughly. There are slightly differences in container sizes between shipping lines, so no need to memorize exactly.

You won’t be tested, so it’s important to use it in the actual jobs.

40’Container Size

And 40’foot container. 40’foot container has the same width and height as 20’container, which is 2.3m, and 40’foot container length is twice as long as a 20’foot. It is about 12m. It’s easy, isn’t it?

40′ High Cube Container Size

Then, 40’foot High Cube container. High Cube means a taller container. It is mainly for a 40’foot container. 20’foot High Cube container is not common.

And in terms of size, 40’foot High Cube is about 2.7m height.

Container Size Summary

Let’s summarize the size of containers. As mentioned earlier, please try to understand roughly. There are only four numbers that come up.

The common size is the width of a containers. It is about 2.3m.

Then, 6m for 20’foot length.
12m for 40’foot length.
2.7m for Hight Cube.

Open top has no ceiling.
Flat rack has no ceiling nor side walls. This is the easy way to remember.

Maximum Weight of Container

And maximum loading weight is also important as well.

When transporting not bulky but heavy cargo such as steel, machinery, liquid, water, rice, etc., in sea shipment, the weight of the cargo is very important for safety control.

Therefore, the weight of the maximum cargo loading is about 25 tons for both 20’foot and 40’foot containers. Please keep this in mind.

Just because it’s 40’foot doesn’t mean it can load twice as heavy as a 20’foot.

Container Grade

Lastly, let’s mention the grade of containers.

The quality of containers will change depending on the type of the cargoes.Used containers are cleaned and repaired at Container Depot, and they are classified into grades A, B and C.

For example, if it transports hygiene products such as food or medicine, the container grade must be A.
Grade A container is in good condition with no major scratches, no peeling floors, and no smell.

And grade C container. If there is a hole in the ceiling of a container, it is not acceptable, but it is used on the assumption that it has damages to some extent.

It is used for transporting the scrap material and steel.


If you are involved in trade, you have to use different containers depending on the contents of your cargo. And it is also important to understand the size of the container in order to load the cargo efficiently.

Today’s contents are very important. Please review this video many times so that you can use it quickly in your actual work.

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