The bulk of shipments are commercial goods, and the system of moving standardized, stackable steel boxes around the world has flourished thanks to the creation of International ISO standards.
These ‘intermodal’ bulk containers can be conveyed by ‘
Semi-trailers pulled by trucks
The most popular sizes are:
20 foot: 20’ long x 8’ wide x 8 ½’ high external (c. 6.1m x 2.4m x 2.6m)
40 foot: 40’ long x 8’ wide x 8 ½’ high external (c. 12.2m x 2.4m x 2.6m)
Increasingly used by bulk shippers is the Hi-Cube 40 foot, which has a 9 ½’ height.
There are also refrigerated containers, which can be broader at 2.6m width.
In the USA, longer sizes are common, including 45’, 48’ and 53’, the last of which is used for many rail and truck deliveries.
Other specialist types that you may encounter include Flat Rack, Open Top, and ‘heavy tested’ 20’ containers that are suitable for heavy machinery.
The maximum payload mass for a 20’ container is approx. 22 tonnes: and for 40’, approx. 27 tonnes.