Shipping containers are an inter-modal form of haulage. This means that they can be used on train, road-going trucks and vessels all over the world. The value of the road freight industry alone is in the region of $47 billion with much of the cargo that is sent around the country being conveyed in shipping containers. As such, this relatively simple system of freight haulage is crucial to the entire Australian economy. Without them, much of the heavy industrial, agricultural and manufacturing sectors in the country would suffer. And yet, many people think that heavy haulage is reliant on just one type of container. This is far from the case, so what are the major differences?
Dry Storage Containers
Designed to shut out rain and spray, dry storage containers are the most common ones used in the road haulage industry. Haulage trucks can pick them up from ports and convey them rapidly to all of the major destinations in the country. Dry storage containers are usually 40-feet or 20-feet in size, but you can also find smaller, 10-feet ones. These will have one pair of doors at one end of the unit through which loading access can be gained.
Flat Rack Containers
These are containers which have collapsible sides. Essentially, they are designed to bridge the gap between conveying items that might usually be strapped onto the back of a low-loader or put into a standard dry storage container. Because they have no roof, they can cope with larger than normal loads but they will need to be placed at the top of other containers because further shipping containers cannot be placed above them.
These come in the same sizes as dry storage containers. Indeed, this type is remarkably similar to standard road haulage containers in nearly all respects. The main difference is that there are two sets of doors, one at either end. This makes them ideal for hauliers when access may only be possible from only one side to load and unload and no crane is available to reorientate the unit so it faces the right way. Tunnel containers also allow for quicker unloading, so they are sometimes used for perishable items where the speed of delivery may be crucial.
These containers do not have the usual end-facing doors. Instead, access is gained to them via a pair of doors on the side of the unit. They allow for wider objects to be loaded onto the container than would be able to otherwise fit. Heavy haulage firms that deal with very bulky items tend to prefer them for their greater convenience when loading.