A shipping container is a canister with strength suitable to compact shipment, storage, and handling. Containers used for Shipping vary from steel boxes that are reusable for inter-modal shipments to the universal corrugated boxes. In connection to international shipping trade, a container is intended to be relocated from one vogue of transport to another without unloading and reloading.
In international shipping trade, “container” or “shipping container” is equivalent with “inter modal freight container”. There are standard and special sizes of containers consisting of dry freight. Since 2012 most of the container’s standard length are 20 foot and 40 foot.
Different Types of Containers
- Inter modal Freight Containers: Freight containers are a sustainable transport and storage unit for movement of products and raw materials between locations or countries. The invention of containers has been a boon for the globalization of commerce, decreasing the cost of transporting goods and for long distances too. There are nearly 17 million inter-modal containers in the world, the long distance freight in international trade is carried in shipping containers; but many containers are also been abandoned as the cost of resending them to port of origin is high. Specially designed shipping containers are: High Cube Container (an extra 1ft from the normal height), pallet wide, open tops, side loaders, double door or tunnel-trainers, and temperature controlled containers. Transtainer, is a container used to port fuel and oil. Hybrid bulk fuel tank is for the construction, mining, logging and farms. These tanks are used for transporting and storing of bulk and dangerous liquids, via surface and sea.
- Corrugated box: Made of corrugated fibre board, they are mainly used as shipping containers and are lightweight, can be recycled and strong to ship various products
- Wooden Boxes: Commonly used to ship heavy and dense products. Government or Military shipments are shipped in this.
- Crate: A large container made of wood to transport large, heavy or gawky items. It is a self-supporting structure, with or without sheathing.
- Intermediate bulk shipping container: An intermediate bulk container (IBC, IBC Tote, IBC Tank) can be multi-used for the regular transportation, storage, taking care of bulk fluids and materials
Materials commonly used to manufacture IBCs are: Plastic (High-Density Polyethylene)
Composite: Steel & Plastic
Stainless Steel (304 & 316/316L SS grades)
Flexible intermediate bulk container is a foldable (collapsible) space- saving big/ bulk bag that is standardized container in large measurements to store and transport granular products. Material used is woven synthetic.
- Bulk box: Also known as a bulk bin or tote box which is of a pallet size used in storing and shipping of bulk quantities.
- Drums: They are cylindrical in shape, used for liquids and granular materials. It’s made out of steel, plastic or fibre.
- Insulated: It is a part of cold chain system, where temperature sensitive products are used. The shipping containers are insulated, helps in retain the freshness and efficacy of the product, for e.g.: foods, chemicals and medicines.
- Pail: They too can be used as shipping containers.
- Unit load device (ULD): A container for loading cargoes into a wide- body and special narrow- bodied aircrafts. As a substantial volume of cargo can be charted at a single go, it aides in saving a lot of time and effort of the ground crews thus lessening flight delays. Every ULD has individual list of packing, manifest or tracking identification to help control and track the contents.
- Specialized: Custom made containers are used to ship items like scientific instruments, weapons and aviation components. In order to protect contents and simplify handling these containers are custom- made cushioning, blocking and bracing, lift rings carrying handles, locks etc are similar, by which they can be reusable. For Transit and Flight cases it is mostly custom designed; mainly used for the transportation of fragile equipment. They are usually light in construction, but have fortified edges and corners. Road cases are basically for movement of musical instruments and theatre props.
As they are plenty available ad cheap these intermodal shipping containers are used or alternated as house, retail and office spaces; as in restaurants, hostels, even as temporary intensive- care units in hospitals during the latest Coronavirus pandemic ( 2019- 2020).
But these containers has its own minus points too while recycling them. Many of them use harmful chemicals, toxic insecticides, lead based paints when in use, which may not be ecologically friendly when reused. Film and television industry also use these containers to build makeshift sets.