An intermodal container is a standardized reusable steel box. They are used to store and move materials and products in the global containerizedintermodal freight transport system efficiently and securely.

"Intermodal" indicates that the container can be moved from one mode of transport to another (from ship, to rail, to truck) without unloading and reloading the contents of the container. Lengths of containers, which each have a unique ISO 6346 reporting mark, vary from 8 to 56 feet (2.438 to 17.069 m) and heights from 8 feet (2.438 m) to 9 feet 6 inches (2.896 m). There are about 17 million intermodal containers in the world of varying types to suit different cargoes.

For air freight the alternative and lighter IATA-defined unit load device is used. Non-container methods of transport include bulk cargo,break bulk cargo and tank cars, tank trucks or oil tankers used for liquids or gases.

Types

Variations on the standard container exist for use with different cargoes, including refrigerated container units for perishable goods, tanks in a frame for bulk liquids, open top units for top loading and collapsible versions. Containerised coal carriers, and "bin-liners" (containers designed for the efficient road/rail transportation of rubbish from cities to recycling and dump sites) are used in Europe.

Container types include:

  • Collapsible ISO
  • Gas bottle
  • Generator
  • General purpose dry van for boxes, cartons, cases, sacks, bales, pallets, drums in standard, high or half height
  • High cube palletwide containers for EUR-pallet compatibility
  • Insulated shipping container
  • Refrigerated containers for perishable goods
  • Open top bulktainers for bulk minerals, heavy machinery
  • Open side for loading oversize pallet
  • Platform or bolster for barrels and drums, crates, cable drums, out of gauge cargo, machinery, and processed timber
  • Rolling floor for difficult-to-handle cargo
  • Swapbody
  • Tank container for bulk liquids and dangerous goods
  • Ventilated containers for organic products requiring ventilation
  • Garmentainers for shipping garments on hangers (GOH)[18][19]
  • Flushfolding flat-rack containers for heavy and bulky semi-finished goods, out of gauge cargo. Empty flat-racks can be stacked or shipped sideways in an ISO container.

Specifications

A few relevant ISO series standards include:

  • ISO 6346:1995 Freight containers -- Coding, identification and marking
  • ISO 668:2013 Series 1 freight containers -- Classification, dimensions and ratings
  • ISO 1161:1984 Series 1 freight containers -- Corner fittings -- Specification
  • ISO 1496-1:2013 Series 1 freight containers -- Specification and testing -- Part 1: General cargo containers for general purposes

Weights and dimensions of some common types of containers. Values vary slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer.

  20′ container40′ container40′ high-cube container45′ high-cube container
imperialmetricimperialmetricimperialmetricimperialmetric
external
dimensions
length 19′ 10 12 6.058 m 40′ 0″ 12.192 m 40′ 0″ 12.192 m 45′ 0″ 13.716 m
width 8′ 0″ 2.438 m 8′ 0″ 2.438 m 8′ 0″ 2.438 m 8′ 0″ 2.438 m
height 8′ 6″ 2.591 m 8′ 6″ 2.591 m 9′ 6″ 2.896 m 9′ 6″ 2.896 m
interior
dimensions
length 18′ 8 1316 5.710 m 39′ 5 4564 12.032 m 39′ 4″ 12.000 m 44′ 4″ 13.556 m
width 7′ 8 1932 2.352 m 7′ 8 1932 2.352 m 7′ 7″ 2.311 m 7′ 8 1932 2.352 m
height 7′ 9 5764 2.385 m 7′ 9 5764 2.385 m 8′ 9″ 2.650 m 8′ 9 1516 2.698 m
door aperturewidth 7′ 8 ⅛″ 2.343 m 7′ 8 ⅛″ 2.343 m 7′ 6" 2.280 m 7′ 8 ⅛″ 2.343 m
height 7′ 5 ¾″ 2.280 m 7′ 5 ¾″ 2.280 m 8′ 5″ 2.560 m 8′ 5 4964 2.585 m
internal volume 1,169 ft³ 33.1 m³ 2,385 ft³ 67.5 m³ 2,660 ft³ 75.3 m³ 3,040 ft³ 86.1 m³
maximum
gross weight
66,139 lb 30,400 kg 66,139 lb 30,400 kg 68,008 lb 30,848 kg 66,139 lb 30,400 kg
empty weight 4,850 lb 2,200 kg 8,380 lb 3,800 kg 8,598 lb 3,900 kg 10,580 lb 4,800 kg
net load 61,289 lb 28,200 kg 57,759 lb 26,600 kg 58,598 lb 26,580 kg 55,559 lb 25,600 kg

TAL