Shipping Containers

Types and Functions

The concept of using shipping container to move cargo from one type of transportation to another is an idea that has been around for over two centuries. However, today’s standardized ocean going shipping containers have a relatively short history, going back to 1958, when an American trucking entrepreneur conceived of a 20 or 40 ft. container that could be hauled on a truck or semi-tractor chassis and also stacked onto cargo ships, thereby eliminating the need for scores of longshoremen that were used to load break bulk cargo on ocean going transport ships. 

Today, almost 90% of all internationally traded goods travel between destinations in cargo ships designed to handle the ubiquitous 20 or 40 foot container. 


While the two basic configurations of ocean going containers, 20 & 40 ft., are the most popular and visible to most of us, there are different variations of these options used for very specific applications.


Here is a description of the standards and shipping container variant:

Standard Containers

  • 40 ft. container is used primarily for dry goods but can be modified to support liquids when equipped with plastic liners.
  • The outside dimensions of these containers are 40 feet long by 8 feet wide and 8 foot 6 inches in height.
  • The 20 ft options are basically half this size. 
reefer thailand

Reefer, or Refrigerated Containers

  • Come in 20 and 40 foot configurations that are insulated and have a self-contained refrigeration system within the container.
  • They do need to be plugged into an external source of electricity that is supplied by the container ship while in transit.
high cube container

High cube containers

  • An additional foot taller than the standard configuration. This design enables shippers to accommodate equipment or other cargo that is too high for the standard 8 foot height of regular containers.

Flat rack containers

  • Flat rack containers have the same outer dimensions but with sides that fold down to facilitate outsized machinery that can’t be loaded through the door of a standard container. 

Tank containers

  • Basically tanks that can hold different types of chemicals or liquid products. The tank itself sits inside a frame that has the same dimensions as the standard 40 foot container.  

Half height containers

  • These containers are only half as high as regular or standard containers and are used for shipping extremely dense cargo such as coal or rocks.
  • The half-height option uses less space on the ship and is also easier to handle due to its lower center of gravity.

If you have further question, the professionals at Eagles Air & Sea can help you to find the right shipping configuration for your specific requirements. We are available 24/7 either by email at or call our phone +662 790 4599.

We help you to choose the right shipping container sizes and dimensions