Containerization uses shipping containers to transport goods using inter-modal transportation systems such as airways, waterways, roads or railroads. The process helps store several pieces of freight within one large container or single unit.
They can be unloaded, stacked, transported over long distances and transferred securely between various transportation modes with efficiency.
The handling of containers is entirely mechanized and done with cranes and forklift trucks. To help with organization, they are numbered and tracked with computerized systems.
Types of Containers and Crates
The most common container dimensions are 20 ft., 40 ft., 45 ft., and 53 ft. Here are the main types of containers and the role they play in transportation.
General cargo containers
These are most widely used for shipping because they carry various goods and do not require temperature control.
They are specifically designed to carry products requiring thermal insulation or refrigeration. An insulated thermal container is mainly used for transporting perishable products like fruits and vegetables, while refrigerated containers are used for transporting food items needing cold storage, such as meat and fish. Dry ice is often used in insulated containers.
These are specialty-built to carry liquefied oxygen and other liquefied gases.
Used to ship bulk liquids. Includes ISO tanks, drums or barrels, Flexitanks, or reusable IBCs (intermediate bulk containers)Flat containers
It is built with collapsible dies that can be folded down to create a flat rack.
Benefits of Containerization
The containers used to transport goods over long distances are designed to make it easy to load, unload, stack, and transport freight. One key benefit of containerization is that it can be handled anywhere globally (ISO standard) through specialized models and equipment.
The containerization system was initially developed as a strategy to increase the ease of international trade. The system has also helped eliminate manual sorting of cargo. Other key benefits include:
- Eliminates the need for intermediate, labour-intensive cargo handling
- Reduces the risk of damage and theft
- Increases cost efficiency for packaging material and labour
- Simplifies shipment tracking
- Lower shipping costs
- Less exposure to weather and elements