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  • Writer's pictureSedat Onat

Container Types (ISO 6346)

Container is the brick of globalization." – Marc Levinson, author of The Box

Why are there different types of containers?

As the benefits of containerization became apparent, different container types were envisioned for different purposes. Especially as a result of Malcolm McLean's long efforts, standards began to be formed.

The main reasons why there are different types of containers are;

  • Different Load Types: Each load requires a special type of transportation. For example, cooling for foodstuffs, sealing for liquids, or extra durability is required for heavy machinery.

  • Optimization and Efficiency: Containers specifically designed for the load can speed up loading and unloading.

  • Security: Special containers for transporting sensitive or dangerous substances ensure the safe transportation of these substances.

  • Cost Savings: Containers specially designed for the cargo provide cost savings in the long term by reducing damage that may occur during transportation.

  • Flexibility and Compatibility: Different container types can be compatible with different modes of transportation (road, rail, sea).

  • Volume and Size: Some goods need larger or smaller volume containers. Therefore, containers of different sizes are needed.

  • Special Needs: For example, special containers are needed for some agricultural products with ventilation (pressurization or exhaust) requirements.

  • Regulations and Standards: It is essential to use containers that comply with international regulations and standards for transporting some products.

Main Container types

Bx – Bulk Container


Gx – General Purpose / General Use Container

It forms the main backbone of Sea Transportation and Railway Transportation. It enables controllable quantities to be transported in high tonnages.

Hx - Insulated Container

Used for materials requiring thermal insulation.

Px – Platform Container

It is used for large, shapeless materials or equipment that cannot be transported in containers.


Flat Rack

Rx – Reefer - Refrigerated Container / Cooler Containers

It is indispensable for Cold Chain Management. It is used for products with high heat sensitivity.

Sx – Named Cargo Container / Special Purpose Containers

Containers specially designed for different purposes.

Tx – Tank Container / Tank Containers

It has an important place in Chemical Transportation and Food Logistics.

Ux - Open Top Container

Open top, usually for high loads.

Vx – Ventilated Container – Ventilated Container

With ventilation, usually for agricultural products.

Other Container Definitions (Some of them are defined in the above types.)

  • IMDG Container: Dangerous Goods

  • Dry Storage Container / Dry Cargo Containers: Used for Railway Transportation and Sea Transportation. It offers high tonnage capacity.

  • Double Doors Container: A type of container that opens at both ends.

  • Cargo Storage Roll Container: Multi-layered and generally used for textile products.

  • Side Open Storage Container: A type of container that is loaded by opening its sides.

  • Car Carriers: Specially designed for vehicle transportation.

  • Drum Container: It is barrel-shaped and generally used to transport liquid, powder, or granular loads.

  • Half Height Container: Usually for stones and heavy loads.

  • Open Side Container: The sides open, usually for wide loads.

  • Tunnel Container: Another type that opens at both ends.

  • Swap Body Container: Especially designed for land transportation.

  • Rolling Floor Container: With a roll floor for fast loading and unloading.

  • Intermediate Bulk Shift Container: For portable, liquid or granular cargo.

  • Special Purpose Container: Special designs for special loads.

  • High Cube Container: Height increased for more volume.


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