What is a "container 40 ft?" How much does one hold? Is this the only sized container available? Those unfamiliar with the international container freight industry are understandably confused by everything. Once it is understood that the reasons for the standardization of container sizes is to simplify large and complex container freight moving activities, everything becomes much clearer.
The international container freight industry is a relatively young industry. Back in the mid-50s, a trucking company entrepreneur by the name of Malcolm McLean came up with the idea of "intermodalism." What this means is that by using standard sized containers that would fit onto the back of a truck or train and could be stacked on a steamship, all the modes of transport could be used for a single container.
When container freight shipping went global, it was imperative that containerization become standardized throughout the world. The result was the container 40 ft and the 20 foot container. The smaller container size became the standard unit. These standard units are measured in "Twenty foot Equivalent Units" or TEUs. Thus, a container 40 ft is 2 TEU. By dividing the units into these specific sizes, they can be neatly stacked onto huge freight container vessels and moved using standard vehicles and moving equipment. The fact that international container freight movement estimates are now measured in the millions of TEUs shows just how important international container shipping is to the economies of the world.
In addition, no matter where in the world a container is manufactured or whether it is made of aluminum or steel, it must be made to exact TEU specifications as outlined by the International Organization for Standardization (IOS). These standards have been in place since 1961, just 5 years after McLean introduced the concept of intermodalism to the transportation industry.
There are a number of other bodies that oversee this huge industry. Container freight companies in the United States must be licensed with the Federal Maritime Commission. The World Shipping Council and the International Chamber of Shipping are two other institutions that help oversea and regulate the industry. Together they set the standards and produce the guidelines for every facet of container freight shipping. It is easily possible, for instance, to obtain specific guidelines for how to pack a container 40ft for optimum safety in transport simply by visiting the World Shipping Council website. Not only does it include valuable information about how to protect household goods from damage during transit, the documentation also includes a great deal of other important information most consumers may not even consider, such as the effects the odors emitted by certain chemicals and plant materials such as spices may have on other belongings when stored together with them in a hot, confined atmosphere for a prolonged period of time.
It is well worth availing yourself of all of the information that is freely available online if you are going to ship container 40 ft for the first time. Doing so will ensure that your valuable personal goods arrive intact at their destination and are ready for you to enjoy again as soon as you are ready for them.
20 foot (6.09 m), 40 foot (12.18 m) , 45 foot (13.7 m), 48 foot (14.6 m), and 53 foot (16.15 m)