From Supply Chain Management Encyclopedia

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Containerization is a stowage of general or special cargoes in a container for transport in the various modes. This is a system of freight transport based on a range of steel intermodal containers (also shipping containers, ISO containers, etc.). Containers are built to agreed upon standard dimensions and can be loaded and unloaded, stacked and transported efficiently over long distances, often by container ship, rail and semi-trailer trucks without being opened. The system developed after WWII and led to greatly reduced transport costs and supported a vast increase in international trade. Containerizable cargo is such one that will fit into a container and result in an economical shipment

  • There are five common standard lengths, 20-ft (6.1 m), 40-ft (12.2 m), 45-ft (13.7 m), 48-ft (14.6 m), and 53-ft (16.2 m).
  • Container capacity is often expressed in twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU, teu). An equivalent unit is a measure of containerized cargo capacity equal to one standard 20 ft (length) × 8 ft (width) container. As this is an approximate measure, the height of the box is not considered, for instance the 9 ft 6 in (2.9 m) High cube and the 4-ft 3-in (1.3 m) half height 20 ft (6.1 m) containers are also called one TEU.
  • The maximum gross mass for a 20 ft (6.1 m) dry cargo container is 24,000 kg, and for a 40-ft (including the high cube container), it is 30,480 kg. The maximum payload mass is therefore reduced to approximately 22,000 kg for 20 ft (6.1 m), and 27,000 kg for 40 ft (12 m) containers.
  • The original choice of 8 foot height for ISO containers was made in part to suit a large proportion of railway tunnels, though some had to be modified. With the arrival of even taller containers, further enlargement is proving necessary.



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