There are many different types of storage containers, ranging from freight containers to industrial storage containers. For the purpose of this article, the focus is on freight storage containers which are actually shipping containers. Storage containers serve as all-purpose containers in trucking and logistics. Also referred to as dry containers, storage containers are key in moving goods from one region to another and given their robust build, they have been trusted in all forms of transportation. Conventional storage containers come in two sizes; 20ft and 40ft in length and 8ft in width. Some wider fits may go as wide as 9ft in height, though the standard is 8ft 6’ as the universal size. There are many other types of storage containers that we shall discuss in this article.

Uses of Storage Containers

Storage or shipping containers are first used as the primary containers for freight. Whether this freight is via road, rail or ship, the primary requirement is for a sturdy and stable storage container to protect the contents inside. The containers also need to be dry and impervious to water or moisture as this may affect the condition of the contents inside. Basically, the storage container has to maintain the contents in a condition that will not lead to a change in their nature. Therefore, the goods move from the supplier to the shipping agent, who will ensure the shipping container has the goods going to a particular location, and once the container is sealed, it can only be opened by tax agents to allow entry into a port facility. Once the goods arrive at their destination, the shipping containers can be converted into storage containers based on the nature of the goods and the intentions of the owner.

Common Types of Shipping Containers

We have already seen the dry shipping container's characteristics; however, few know that there are more than 10 other types of shipping containers, and some of these were developed for certain types of specialised goods and for a variety of industries and geographical areas. These other types of storage and shipping containers are:

Open Top containers

Open top containers have an adjustable cover that can be removed. Most open-top containers are either 20ft or 40 ft and feature harnesses on the sides to hold the over-height goods. The goods that go into open-top containers typically cannot go through the entrance and need a crane or specialised lifting device to place them or remove them from the container. Most farming equipment, building equipment, and industrial equipment can only be transported using open-top containers.

Swap Body Containers

Swap body containers utilise their convertible top to enhance versatility in changing from one mode of transport to another. The containers lack any corner fittings on the upper side, which allows for a variety of methods of loading and unloading. The containers are commonly used in Europe due to the need to quickly change between rails and roads.

High Cube Containers

High cube containers are larger than conventional dry containers and have an additional 1-foot height. They come in 40ft and 45ft sizes, and many feature an indent at the bottom to accommodate higher or ‘taller’ goods.

ISO Reefer Containers

When it comes to transporting or storing perishable goods and temperature-sensitive materials, a specialised container is required. The ISO Reefer containers have sensors and temperature controls that ensure the contents are maintained at a required temperature necessary to retain them in their needed form. They are made from cor-ten steel, which is a form of weathering steel capable of dissipating external temperature without affecting the internal metal structure.

ISO Tank Containers

Transportation of liquid is a totally different experience since liquids require different dynamics for transportation as compared to solid materials. Tank containers are mostly oval and cylindrical to allow smooth interaction between the liquid and the storage container. Furthermore, the liquid must not be less than 80% of the container, and neither should it be more than 95% of the container. These rules are to prevent surging during transit and allow for thermal expansion, respectively.

Half Height Containers

These are useful for transporting mined materials such as coal and stones. The weight of materials accounts for the half-height since the low height allows for more dense objects which would need to be offloaded from the top. The low centre of gravity enhances versatile methods of transportation and speed.

Double Door Containers

The double door container also referred to as the ‘tunnel container’, has doors on both the ends to enable faster unloading and loading of goods.

There are many other types of containers catering to different types of goods. Toxic materials and raw materials that require special protection from the elements also require specialised containers in accordance with the nature of the materials. Some minerals and stones react under high temperature and friction, and therefore, the containers are further enforced to handle even much higher temperatures emanating from the reactions of the materials interacting with the container.

What to Do With Storage Container after Freight Transport

Storage containers are very versatile. Due to their secure built and capacity to handle a diverse range of terrain, some people have opted to use the storage containers for more long term storage of their company or household items that they no longer use. These storage containers can then be put together and stored somewhere where there will be less interaction with people. Container homes have also become popular as people seek even more diverse ways of recycling and reusing containers.

Overall, storage containers are diverse based on their sizes, shapes, materials and dimension. The broad ranges of products have forced many companies to try and create their own types of storage containers that augur best to their specific needs. Globalisation has led to more trade networks which have also forced companies to seek complex means of ensuring their goods reach their suppliers. The world should expect more diverse types of storage and shipping containers as more global trade leads to more product diversification.