Understanding Pallets, Containers, boxes, Drums in Logistics

Early entrants into Logistics and supply chain and even people with experience in the stream often get confused or unable to co-relate the various containers and abbreviations that are commonly used in the industry. In order to provide a ready recknor on these terms, find a exhaustive list, providing clarity for users.

Mode Container Description
Ocean Containers Full 20′ container (TEU FCL) Standard twenty-foot container that is loaded and unloaded under the risk and account of the shipper or consignee.
Ocean Containers Full 40′ container (FEU FCL) Standard forty-foot container that is loaded and unloaded under the risk and account of the shipper or consignee.
Ocean Containers Full 40’HC container (FCL) Hi-cube forty-foot container that is loaded and unloaded under the risk and account of the shipper or consignee.
Ocean Containers Full 45’HC container (FCL) Hi-cube forty five-foot container that is loaded and unloaded under the risk and account of the shipper or consignee.
Ocean Containers 20′ flat rack Tenty-foot open-topped and open-sided unit that fits into an existing below-deck container and is used for oversized cargo and wheeled or tracked vehicles.
Ocean Containers 40′ flat rack Forty-foot open-topped and open-sided unit that fits into an existing below-deck container and is used for oversized cargo and wheeled or tracked vehicles.
Ocean Containers 20′ refrigerated ”Twenty-foot refrigerated shipping container for transporting perishables having its own stand-alone (self-powered) cooling system.”
Ocean Containers 40′ refrigerated ”Forty-foot refrigerated shipping container for transporting perishables having its own stand-alone (self-powered) cooling system.”
Ocean Containers 40’HC refrigerated ”Hi-cube forty-foot refrigerated container that is used for transporting perishables having its own stand-alone (self-powered) cooling system.”
Ocean Containers 20′ non operative reefer (NOR) ”Twenty-foot refrigerated shipping container having its own stand-alone (self-powered) cooling system that is non operative.”
Ocean Containers 40′ non operative reefer (NOR) ”Forty-foot refrigerated shipping container having its own stand-alone (self-powered) cooling system that is non operative.”
Ocean Containers 40’HC non operative reefer (NOR) ”Hi-cube forty-foot refrigerated shipping container having its own stand-alone (self-powered) cooling system that is non operative.”
Ocean Containers 20′ ISO tank container ”Twenty-foot container or tanktainer that is an intermodal container for the transport of liquids gases and powders as bulk cargo.”
Ocean Containers 40′ ISO tank container ”Forty-foot container or tanktainer that is an intermodal container for the transport of liquids gases and powders as bulk cargo.”
Ocean Containers 20′ open top ”Twenty-foot container fitted with a solid removable roof or with a tarpaulin roof that can be loaded or unloaded from the top.”
Ocean Containers 40′ open top ”Forty-foot container fitted with a solid removable roof or with a tarpaulin roof that can be loaded or unloaded from the top.”
Ocean Containers 40’HC open top ”Hi-cube forty-foot container fitted with a solid removable roof or with a tarpaulin roof that can be loaded or unloaded from the top.”
Ocean Containers Drum (Barrels) Cylindrical container used for shipping liquids and powders and is often certified for shipment of dangerous goods.
Ocean Containers Ro ro ”Roll-on/roll-off ships are vessels designed to carry wheeled cargo such as automobiles and trucks.”
Ocean Containers Container48 Forty eight-foot hi-cube container.
Ocean Containers Container53 Fifty three-foot hi-cube container.
Air Shipping LD1 ”92″” wide contoured half width container used for a wide-body aircraft.”
Air Shipping LD2 ”61.5″” wide contoured half width container used for a wide-body aircraft.”
Air Shipping LD3 ”79″” wide contoured half width container used for a wide-body aircraft. Dimension are according to IATA.”
Air Shipping LD7 ”88″”/96″” wide contoured full width container used for a wide-body aircraft.”
Air Shipping LD6 ”160″” wide contoured full width container used for a wide-body aircraft. (equivalent to 2 LD3s)”
Air Shipping LD8 ”125″” wide contoured full width container used for a wide-body aircraft. (equivalent to 2 LD2s)”
Air Shipping LD11 ”125″” wide full width container used for a wide-body aircraft. (same as LD6 but without contours; rectangular)”
Pallets Pallet(s) ”Portable platform on which goods can be moved stacked and stored
Pallets EUR1/ISO1 pallet (80×120cm) Standard pallet with the dimensions 80 X 120 cm.
Pallets EUR2/ISO2 pallet (120×100cm) Standard pallet with the dimensions 100 X 120 cm.
Pallets “48””x40″” pallet” ”48″” Long x 40″” Wide wood pallet is the most common size stringer pallet.”
Other Box Container with a flat base and sides typically square or rectangular and having a lid.
Other Envelope ”Flat paper container with a sealable flap used to enclose a letter or document.”
Other Break bulk System of transporting cargo as separate pieces rather than in containers.
Other Roll Container that can be carried by trucks and can be pushed to ground level by help of a hook and level arm with the container possibly sliding on roller wheels.

‘Container’ is a word synonyms with Logistics and Shipping. There are various shipping container sizes and purposes, it is important that one needs to know the key differences. Therefore selecting the optimal container type is important for safe transportation of the cargo and will also yield cost effective options.

Ocean Shipping Containers:
Containers are typically made of steel, with corrugated sides. Container bottoms usually consist of plywood or treated wood planks. When shipping goods that are concentrated or heavier than normal, it is important to confirm that the bottom of the container can support the weight without breaking.

Sizes of containers are listed in feet. A container’s internal and door dimensions are generally standard, but at times vary by carrier. Depending on the carrier, maximum payloads or weight per container can vary. Before shipping, confirmation of the weight of the containers needs to be ascertained from the legality perspective for ground and rail transportation.

Below are descriptions of various types of ocean shipping containers:

Standard Container:
These units are completely enclosed with rigid walls, roof and floor. At least one end wall has a door for access. As the most popular shipping container option, standard containers are used for dry cargo packaged in boxes, bags, bales, pallets etc. and are available in the following sizes (length x width x height):
20’ x 8’ x 8’6”
40’ x 8’ x 8’6”
40’ x 8’ x 9’6” (high cube)
45’ x 8’ x 8’6”

Reefer Container:
Also known as a “refrigerated container,” these containers are thermal, insulated units with compressors to heat or cool the cargo. Some reefer containers even have adjustable ventilation, allowing for internal airflow.

Designed to transport temperature-sensitive cargo and perishable goods, like produce, reefer containers are the best option when transporting items that need to be transported at a constant temperature that’s above, or below, freezing. Available sizes (length x width x height):
20’ x 8’ x 8’6”
40’ x 8’ x 8’6”
40’ x 8’ x 9’6” (high cube)

Flat Rack Container:
Flat racks are made with a steel frame, a wood floor, fixed or collapsible end walls and no sidewalls. Some flat racks also have end walls that fold flush with the base. Having strong floors, flat racks are generally used to transport heavy, oversized or bulky cargo. Available sizes (length x width x height):
20’ x 8’ x 8’6”
40’ x 8’ x 8’6”
40’ x 8’ x 9’6” (high cube)

Platform Container:
This container is exactly how it sounds: floor structure without any end or side walls. Made with a steel frame and a wooden floor, platform containers are built to carry extremely heavy and oversized loads. Available sizes (length x width x height):
20’ x 8’ x 8’6”
40’ x 8’ x 8’6”

Open Container:
Essentially these are standard containers, without the rigid roof. Instead, they contain a flexible tarpaulin roof, which can be removed entirely. Open containers have doors on end walls that swing out. These containers work best for transporting cargo that is over height, as the tarpaulin can be moved for crane access. These containers are available in the following sizes (length x width x height):
20’ x 8’ x 8’6”
40’ x 8’ x 8’6”
40’ x 8’ x 9’6” (high cube)

The efficiency of any storage and handling system depends on how best the load has been unitized on pallets or in containers. Pallets and containers are designed keeping in mind the specific requirements of each product / industry.

The various types of containers and pallets generally in use in the industry are Plastic containers, Crates & Bins and drums.

Flat Pallets – Wooden, Steel & Plastic, Detachable Frame pallets. Collapsible Containers, Rolling boxes, Foldable boxes and Nestable Pallets.