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Maritime shipping: What container suits your needs the best?

Publicado por: Kerekes, Eva em 12/23/16 10:07 AM

Maritime shipping: What container suits your needs the best?

In order to achieve maximum profitability for your business, you need to decide upon the adequate shipping method that will deliver your cargo to the destination on time, optimize freight costs, and be as simple as possible.

In general, the terms groupage (LCL) and full container load (FCL) characterize the two main types of cargo transportation in containers.


How to calculate cargo volume?

If the cargo is FCL, the freight rate is on full container load basis. However, if the cargo is LCL, the freight forwarder charges on the basis of cargo volume (m3). If the total weight of the shipment exceeds a 1000 kg, the cargo volume is calculated on the basis of weight (ton). The freight forwarder charges the LCL rate based on m3 or per ton, whichever shall be higher.

Containers: Types and dimensions

A container is a large metal or wooden recipient for the stowage and transportation of cargo on ships, trains, etc. It is also known as cargo box, as it is equipped with security devices defined by national laws and international conventions. Its main characteristic nowadays is being an independent unit load, with standard dimensions, set in the English measurement system (feet). The most commonly used base unit is the TEU (Twenty feet Equivalent Unit).

Every cargo has specific requirements as to the type of container used for its transportation. There are several types of containers available, especially designed for the cargo that is to be transported. It is the responsibility of the shipper to ensure these requirements are met, i.e. his merchandise is properly packed and stowed in an appropriate container under the right circumstances.

To determine the type of container that best suits your needs, you should be aware of the 13 different types of ISO standard containers and a variety of sizes within these types, that you have at your disposal, adapted to the requirements of traders. Basically, you have the possibility to ship any type of cargo: from general or oversized shipments, to chemicals or temperature sensitive products.

The size and load capacity of each container may vary slightly, within the same type, depending on several factors. The maximum cargo weight allowed in a container also depends on the road limits defined by law and/or the handling capacity of the ports and their facilities in the transit countries between the origin and the destination. Therefore, you should consult a freight forwarder before you book a container, because he can provide you with useful information.

The parameters of the various container types are different, since there are standard 20 or 40 foot containers, 40 foot high cube containers, Open Top containers and Flat Rack containers.

Here is a brief description of maritime containers and the kind of merchandise they are recommended for:

  • DRY VAN General Purpose Dry Container (DV): the most common container type, made of steel, in general with corrugated walls and a wooden floor. It is used for general purpose cargo up to 2.280 m in height (door height) or 2 pallets of 1.196 m each in height each (2.392 m internal height);
  • HIGH-CUBE General Purpose Dry Container (HC): similar to a DRY VAN container, with corrugated walls and a wooden floor, but a little higher. It is used for general purpose cargo up to 2.590 m in height (door height), or 2 pallets of 1.345 m each in height each (2.690 m internal height);
  • PALLET WIDE Container (PW): with corrugated walls and a wooden floor like a DRY VAN container but more pallets can fit inside, because it is slightly wider (around 0.07 m). It is used for general purpose cargo, when you need to transport more than 25 EUR pallets;
  • PALLET WIDE HIGH CUBE Container: with corrugated walls and a wooden floor, and since it is slightly wider and higher, it has a bigger capacity for pallets (just like a PALLET WIDE) and it can accommodate cargo of approximately 2.690 m in height (like the HIGH CUBE);
  • OPEN TOP Container (OT): with corrugated steel walls, a wooden floor and a removable roof. It is great for top loading or excessively high cargo;
  • FLATRACK Container (FR): this container is just a platform with collapsible end walls. It is especially suitable for heavy and oversized cargo that need to be loaded from the top or the side. It is used for heavy machinery, construction equipment and building supplies, or for project cargo;
  • HIGH CUBE FLATRACK Container: this container has the same characteristics as a normal FLATRACK container, with the exception of being a little higher. Therefore, it can be used for both heavy and oversized cargo, that need to be loaded from the top or the side, e.g. heavy machinery, construction equipment or supplies, and project cargo;
  • REFRIGERATED or REEFER Container (RF): this is the same size as a DRY VAN container, but it can accommodate slightly less cargo due to the space the refrigeration unit takes up. It is used for perishable or temperature sensitive cargo;
  • HIGH CUBE REFRIGERATED OR REEFER Container: it is like a normal REFRIGERATED container, but it has slightly more space for cargo due to its height. It is used for perishable or temperature sensitive cargo as well;
  • PALLET WIDE HIGH CUBE REFRIGERATED Container: it has the same characteristics as a HIGH CUBE REEFER Container but more pallets can fit in, because this container type is slightly wider;
  • BULK container (BK): it might have three loading hatches on the roof and two discharge hatches on the side of the door, which at times are equipped with short discharge tubes to provide a way in and out for bulk cargo. As another option, two discharge hatches may be mounted on the doorways, to drain out the containers. Some bulk containers are equipped with forklift pockets, which allow handling by forklift trucks. This type is specially designed for the transportation of unpacked bulk cargo, such as coal, cement or ore;
  • TANK Container: this container type is used for the transportation of bulk liquid, gas, foodstuff and even dangerous cargo. Its structure is of an aptly reinforced tank, in order to avoid serious accidents;
  • VENTILATED Container: its structure is similar to that of a DRY VAN container but it has ventilated doors and/or sides. It is used for cargo in need of ventilation, typically the transportation of green coffee or cocoa beans. Ventilation is provided by ventilation openings in the top and bottom side rails, which do not let aerosols in, in order to prevent the depreciation of cargo by rain, for example.

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Autor: Kerekes, Eva

Eva Kerekes is the Overseas Development Manager of Multicargo, who takes care of the vast network of international contacts Multicargo has at its disposal. As well as being in contact with the agents on a daily basis, she also represents the company at various forwarding conferences abroad.

Tópicos: Maritime shipping