Optimizing Freight: Choosing the Right Container Size for Your Cargo

Dec 01,2023
Industry News
Uncover the secrets of efficient transportation! Solve your worries about freight container size selection and get free expert insights on international freight forwarding

Are you worried about capacity availability when your containers are needed most? Frequently encounter the problem of unclear container charges? The safety of your goods during transportation is the most important issue. Do you continually evaluate the security measures in place for your shipments? In the remainder of this blog, we’ll explore these issues in more depth, providing detailed insights and solutions to help you on your freight forwarding journey.

What is a shipping container?

A shipping container is a standardized large container used for shipping goods by sea. These containers are specially designed for use in the modern circulation field. They can be loaded, unloaded, handled and transported through large-scale loading and unloading machinery and vehicles to achieve "door-to-door" transportation of goods. Shipping containers usually use large containers such as containers as carriers to assemble goods into container units in order to better realize a new, efficient and cost-effective transportation method of "door-to-door" transportation of goods.

In the dynamic world of logistics, concerns about containers are not uncommon. If you find yourself concerned about container availability when you need it most, rest assured, our proactive approach ensures we maintain strong relationships with container suppliers and utilize advanced booking systems. With real-time tracking and predictive analytics, we predict peak demand periods, allowing us to secure container capacity exactly when you need it. Our commitment is to keep your supply chain running smoothly and eliminate the stress associated with container availability.

Frequently encounter the problem of unclear container charges? When you choose chinadivision, it means you will say goodbye to the era of unclear charges. Transparent pricing is the cornerstone of our services. To eliminate the confusion of unclear container charges, we provide a comprehensive cost breakdown from the outset. Our detailed quotes include freight, handling and any other relevant charges, ensuring you have a clear understanding of the financial aspects of your shipment and eliminating any confusion around container charges. No hidden fees, no surprises – just a transparent, straightforward approach to container charging.

The safety of your goods during transportation is the most important issue

Cargo safety is our firm commitment to excellence, and the safety of cargo during transportation is a top priority. Our container security measures are designed to provide complete protection for your cargo. From safe loading and unloading procedures to GPS tracking and real-time monitoring, we employ cutting-edge technology and strict protocols. In addition, our risk management strategies include insurance options tailored to the specific needs of your cargo. Trust us to protect your cargo throughout the journey, giving you peace of mind and confidence in the safety of your cargo.

What are the types of shipping containers?

Ordinary containers: also known as dry cargo containers, are mainly used to ship groceries, usually used to ship stationery, daily necessities, medicine, textiles, handicrafts, chemical products, Wujiajiaodian, electronic machinery, instruments and machine parts, etc.

Refrigerated containers: There are two types: external and internal. They are shipping container for storage. The temperature can be adjusted between -60℃~30℃. The built-in container can start the freezer at will during transportation to keep the container at the specified temperature, just like a "walking freezer"; while the external container must rely on the freezers equipped on special container vehicles, ships and special yards and stations. Refrigeration. This kind of box is suitable for transporting butter, chocolate, frozen fish, condensed milk, fruit and other items in summer.

Open-top container: Also known as open-top container, open-top container, this kind of container has no roof, but has a roof made of canvas, plastic sheet or plastic-coated cloth supported by foldable roof beams. A crane can be used to lift the container from the top of the container. Loading and unloading cargo. When shipping, cover the top with a tarp, which has the same watertight requirements as a dry cargo box. Suitable for loading heavy goods such as glass plates, steel products, machinery, etc.

Frame container: It has no roof and sides and can be loaded and unloaded from the sides of the container. This kind of container is mainly used to carry overweight cargo, which is convenient for loading livestock, used for bare loading of steel products that can avoid outer packaging, and used for hoisting of oversized, overwide, and overhigh cargo.

shipping container

Livestock Container: It is a container for shipping livestock. In order to achieve good ventilation, the box walls are made of wire mesh, and there are cleaning ports and drainage ports under the side walls, as well as feeding devices. This kind of container is a special container specially manufactured for shipping cattle, horses and other live animals.

Tank container: also known as liquid container, is a special container manufactured for transporting liquid goods such as food, medicine, chemicals, etc. The structure of this container is a liquid tank fixed within a metal frame. The inner tank of the tank is mostly made of 316 stainless steel. Most tanks have steam or electric heating devices, inert gas protection devices, pressure reducing devices and other optional equipment required for fluid transportation and loading and unloading.

Platform container: similar in shape to a railway flat car, it is a container with a high load-bearing capacity base and no superstructure. The top and bottom of the platform are equipped with corner pieces, and the same fasteners and lifting devices as other containers can be used; there are also some platform containers that only have bottom corner pieces and no top corner pieces. The floor of the platform container is very strong and suitable for transporting heavy goods, and two platform containers can be connected.

Ventilated containers: Generally, shipping container with side doors or shipping container with roll up door and shipping container with windows. There are 4 to 6 windows for ventilation on the side walls, end walls or doors. They are suitable for shipments that do not require refrigeration but require Ventilate and prevent sweaty groceries, such as raw leather, fruits, vegetables, etc. If the ventilation window is closed, it can be used as a grocery container. Refrigerators with ventilation holes can be used in urgent cases.

Insulated container: refers to a "container" that relies on its own insulation device to maintain heat, prevent heat exchange inside and outside the container, and maintain a constant temperature inside the container. A general term for freight containers that require temperature control for transporting frozen goods, refrigerated goods, insulated goods, etc.

Bulk cargo container: Generally equipped with 2 to 3 small hatches at the top and a shipping port at the bottom, it is mainly used as a "container" for shipping unpackaged solid granular and powdery goods. This kind of box is suitable for loading bulk cargo such as grain, cement, sand and gravel. Due to quarantine needs, some bulk containers are also equipped with attachments for fumigation on the top.

Is container shipping cheaper?

Container shipping is generally cheaper than other traditional logistics methods. Container ships are designed to transport large amounts of cargo efficiently. The size of these ships allows shipping companies to spread costs over large volumes of cargo, effectively reducing costs.

The standardization of shipping containers, most commonly 20- and 40-foot containers, allows for efficient loading and unloading processes, reducing turnaround times at ports. This standardization also makes it easier to plan and optimize cargo loading.

Intermodal transport: Containers can be moved seamlessly between different modes of transportation (ships, trucks and trains), simplifying logistics chains and reducing overall costs.

Security and Protection: Containers provide a safe and protected environment for cargo during transportation. This can reduce insurance costs compared to other less secure shipping methods.

Global trade network: Container shipping is well established, connecting major ports around the world. This global network facilitates international trade and allows the efficient flow of goods between different regions.

The cost-effectiveness of container shipping may be affected by the following factors:

Distance: For long-distance shipping, especially intercontinental trade, container shipping is often more cost-effective.

Volume and Weight: The volume and weight of your cargo play an important role in determining the cost-effectiveness of container shipping. It is often more economical to ship larger volumes using standard size containers.

Urgency: If speed is a key factor, other modes of transportation (such as air freight) may be preferred despite their higher cost.

Customs and Regulatory Compliance: Compliance with customs regulations and other regulatory requirements may increase the cost of the shipping process.

Ultimately, whether container shipping is cheaper depends on the specifics of the shipment, the nature of the goods being transported, and the shipper's overall logistics strategy. Companies often work with freight forwarders and logistics experts to optimize their shipping strategies based on the balance of cost, time and reliability.

What is the difference between a shipping container and a cargo container?

"Marine container" generally refers to a standardized, modular metal container designed specifically for transporting cargo by ship, truck, or train.

main feature:

Shipping containers are standardized in size and design, with common lengths being 20 feet or 40 feet. They are designed for intermodal transport, meaning they can be easily transferred between different modes of transportation, such as ships to trucks to trains. The structure can withstand the rigors of ocean transportation, ensuring the protection and safety of cargo.

"Cargo container" is a broader term that can cover any container used for the transport of goods and is not necessarily limited to maritime transport. "Cargo container" is a more inclusive term that can refer to containers used in various modes of transportation, including sea, land and air transport. While a shipping container is a specific type of cargo container, the term "cargo container" may also include other types of containers, such as air cargo containers or containers used in trucking.

How goods are transported via containers?

The general steps for transporting goods via containers are as follows:

First of all, before exporting, merchants need to find a suitable freight forwarding company and complete relevant booking services and provide them with the support documents required for export of goods. The letter of entrustment should include information such as notification of delivery and receipt, trade terms, port of departure, port of destination, container type, container volume, cargo list and other information.

Pick up the container and load it at the port. After the booking is successful, the trailer will go to the designated container site to handle container handover and container inspection based on the information on the booking receipt. After consultation with the cargo owner, arrange for outsourcing or internal equipment to gather the goods at the port.

After the goods are collected at the port, a consignment report will be sent to the customs. The shipping company will also record the manifest information based on the cargo information, and the customer needs to provide customs declaration documents such as packing list, proforma invoice, trade contract, and customs declaration power of attorney. The customs broker fills in the customs declaration form and applies to the customs, and then waits for the customs to release or arrange inspection.

Then proceed with payment and document handover. A bill of lading can be issued to the shipping company within three working days after the ship is shipped. After the freight is settled, the freight forwarder needs to hand over the bill of lading to the shipper.

After receiving the bill of lading, the consignor will settle the fees and exchange cargo rights with the consignee. Before the ship arrives at the port, the shipping company's destination port agent will send an arrival notice to the consignee. At this time, the consignee can entrust the local freight forwarder. Present the bill of lading to the shipping company with the bill of lading, and apply for customs clearance procedures together with the local customs.

The last step is to receive the goods. After customs inspection and price review, a tax bill will be issued. After the consignee pays the tax, the goods will be released and the goods can be received after settling the relevant miscellaneous fees with the agent.

Shipping container dimensions: what are the sizes?

Shipping containers come in a variety of sizes, with the most common sizes standardized to ensure compatibility across different shipping methods. The two main sizes are 20-foot containers and 40-foot containers. The following are the standard dimensions of shipping containers:

20ft container

External dimensions:

Length: 20 feet (6.06 meters)

Width: 8 feet (2.44 meters)

Height: 8.6 feet (2.59 meters)

Internal dimensions:

Length: 19.4 ft (5.89 m)

Width: 7.8 ft (2.35 m)

Height: 7.9 feet (2.39 meters)


Approximately 1,172 cubic feet (33.2 cubic meters)

40ft container

External dimensions:

Length: 40 feet (12.19 meters)

Width: 8 feet (2.44 meters)

Height: 8.6 feet (2.59 meters)

Internal dimensions:

Length: 39.5 ft (12.03 m)

Width: 7.8 ft (2.35 m)

Height: 7.9 feet (2.39 meters)


Approximately 2,390 cubic feet (67.7 cubic meters)

These sizes are the most commonly used and widely accepted in the shipping industry. Additionally, there are variants and specialized containers designed to meet specific shipping needs. For example:

High cubic container

These containers are taller, typically 9.6 feet (2.9 meters), to provide extra vertical space for certain types of cargo.

Flat rack container

These containers have foldable sides and can transport oversized or unconventional cargo.

Open top container

These containers do not have a fixed top, making them suitable for cargo that requires top loading or has a special height.

It is important to note that while these dimensions are standard, they may vary slightly depending on the specific manufacturer or modifications made to the container for a specific purpose. Be sure to confirm exact specifications with your shipping provider or container supplier for precise planning and compatibility. If you need to know the precise container information, you can contact chinadivision. We will answer your questions and provide relevant international freight services.

About the Author: Limi

About the Author: Limi

Limi is a content marketing expert at ChinaDivision, helping businesses and e-commerce sellers navigate the complexities of international shipping by providing actionable tips and comprehensive guides on logistics, shipping, and cargo transportation.