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Shipping Container Dimensions

Containerization has its origins in the coal mining industry back in 1766 when coal was loaded into wooden crates in Wales and transported by canal boat to Manchester. The wooden boxes allowed the cargo to be quickly moved from barge to horse and cart for delivery to the customer. That same principle applies today where containers are built to a standard set of measurements allowing them to be quickly loaded onto the vast container ships that transect the globe delivering everything from rubber ducks to luxury cars.

Shipping containers come in a variety of sizes but generally speaking they all conform to the same set of standard measurements. This is vital to ensure they fit into the cells of a container ship and ensures that the deck space on these ships is maximised.

Shipping containers come in three primary sizes; 10ft containers, 20ft containers and 40ft containers. The description of the size is related to the shipping container length. The shipping container height and shipping container width remains constant across the different shipping container lengths. If we take each standard size, you can see how broadly speaking the measurements vary very little.

As it implies, a 10ft shipping container is 10 feet in length. The 10-foot shipping container width is 8ft, and the shipping container height is 8 feet 6 inches. 10ft shipping containers are traditionally not as widely used as their big brothers the 20ft shipping container and 40ft shipping container. Increasingly though they are being viewed as a great alternative to garden sheds, lock up garages and bike sheds. The 10ft container benefits from all the same build quality as a larger shipping container but with the bonus of being able to fit into the constricted space within built-up urban areas. Due to the 10ft shipping container not being the favoured size of the shipping lines that move containers around the world, they are often shipped from manufacturer to market without cargo inside. This means the cost of shipping is passed onto the end user of the 10ft shipping container rather than being paid by the owner of the cargo. This increase of the expenses makes the 10ft shipping container, pound for pound, more expensive than the larger 20ft shipping container and 40ft shipping container.

The 20ft shipping container is one of the two most common sizes of a shipping container to be used globally, the other being the 40ft shipping container. As with all other shipping containers the name comes from the shipping container length which is 20 feet. Also, in line with the standardisation of the shipping industry, the 20ft shipping container height is 8ft 6in, and the shipping container width is 8 feet. 20ft shipping containers are extremely popular as they provide an ideal size for shipping the vast variety of cargo they have been designed for. It was recently estimated that there are upwards of 43 million shipping containers in existence around the world. Of this number, the 20ft shipping container makes up a significant amount.

The 40ft shipping container along with the 20ft shipping container makes up the vast majority of the world’s population of steel shipping containers. Keeping with the theme of shipping container terminology the 40ft shipping container measure 40 feet in length. The 40ft shipping container width is 8 feet, and the 40ft shipping container height is 8ft 6in. Because if it’s size, the 40ft shipping container is well suited to transporting and storing large cargo items or lots and lots of individual smaller items.

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