Need a quotation?

Dear Customers, if you wish to receive a quotation, we kindly ask you to fill in below form. Once the form has been duly filled and submitted, the rates will be quoted to you.


Skip to Content


What is OOG or Out of Gauge Cargo?

If your cargo is extremely large or has unwieldy booms and protrusions that do not fit into standard shipping containers then you have an out of gauge cargo on hand, shortened to OOG cargo.

The list of OOG cargo is long. Some examples are very large automobiles such as luxury coaches, automobile trailers, aircraft parts, parts of wind turbines, construction machinery, abnormally large parts of machinery used in electricity generation, etc.

Also referred to as AILs (Abnormally shaped Indivisible Loads), such out of gauge cargo exceed standard container dimensions and maybe extraordinarily heavy to be accommodated in rectangular shipping containers such as a twenty feet container (TEU) or a forty feet container (FEU).

The sheer dimensions and weight of such odd-shaped and odd-sized cargo require specialized heavy-duty equipment to handle them for transport by sea.

Unless they are handled with care and precision, such cargo can easily get damaged during transport.

Cost of Transporting Out of Gauge Cargo

Transporting out of gauge cargo can be a costly affair as it involves additional costs. The out of shape cargo eats into space that could have been used for other cargo.

When an OOG cargo is loaded on the deck or below-deck of a cargo carrier, neither can another container be placed and secured to the twist-locks on the adjacent sides of it nor can containers be placed on top of the OOG cargo, as in flat racks and platform containers.

Hence, the shipping and transport companies charge extra to make up for this wasted space. Space thus wasted is also referred to as ‘lost slots’.

Planning and Execution

An out of gauge cargo, if not secured or lashed properly to their containers can damage other cargo that is kept near it. Besides, when out of gauge cargo is placed onboard a vessel, its location has to be planned carefully as there will be other cargo that will have to be unloaded before the OOG cargo.

It is not only the sea voyage of the OOG cargo that has to be planned and executed correctly but also the overland transport from the manufacturing plant or its storage location to the port of loading.

Since some out of gauge cargo may have abnormal protrusions or could be extremely heavy, the type of trailer truck to be used for moving it and the appropriate gantry crane have to be chosen carefully and arranged. Next, the road route to be taken from the OOG cargo storage location to the port, up to the loading point, has to be planned.

The route to the seaport should be planned in such a way that busy roads and peak hours are avoided. There should be enough clearance on either side of the road and on top (over bridges, arches, etc.) for the OOG cargo to pass safely and also not to damage property.


The most common options available for the transport of out of gauge cargo is flat racks or open-top containers.

A flat rack container usually has collapsible walls at either end of the container. The sides of the container are open and do not have walls.

Out of gauge cargo can be loaded in such containers from the sides or the top. When loading is from the side, it is normally done using heavy-duty forklifts.

If the cargo is loaded from the top, it is done using cranes. The cargo is usually placed in the centre of the container for optimal weight distribution.

Unlike a flat rack, the open-top container has rigid walls along its length and doors on one of its ends, like the conventional containers. However, the top is open or it may have a removable hard roof. The hard roof can be removed using a crane. Sideloading is not possible in open-top containers as they have rigid walls along the sides. Hence it is done through the door using a heavy-duty forklift or from the top using a crane.

In some type of open-top containers, the beam atop the door can be dismantled to facilitate the loading of gauge cargo through the door.

To help the movement of heavy-duty forklifts into the container some of the doors can be swivelled outward.

Once the out of gauge cargo is loaded, the cargo may be lashed to the floor of the container securely using straps. The open-top is then covered with a sturdy sheet such as tarpaulin or with the container roof.

Tarpaulin is a heavy-duty, flexible material that is commonly used to cover such containers or the out of gauge cargo. It is usually made of canvas coated with polyurethane or polyethene or other such water-proof plastics. It is quite versatile and will also conform to the shape of the out of gauge cargo. Plastic or canvas sheets can also be used to cover the container or cargo.

Most flat racks have pad-eyes or lashing-rings on their floor for lashing the out of gauge cargo or for tying the tarpaulin cover.

Flat racks and open top containers used in the transport of out of gauge cargo are mostly of the standard sizes of 20 feet and 40 feet. This is so that they fit on standard trailers and can be handled by the standard loading/unloading equipment at ports and warehouses easily.

Most of these containers have floors made of hardwood.

Flat Rack Containers

Flat racks are normally found in lengths of 40 feet and 20 feet. Out of gauge cargo can be loaded on to them from the sides using heavy-duty forklifts or placed on the floor from the top using a crane. They are therefore suitable for cargo such as abnormally-shaped machinery, boats, long tubular structures, etc.

A typical 40 feet flat rack container has dimensions of 40’ x 8’ x 8’ 6” (height of the end walls) and they carry a payload of approximately 25 tons. When the cargo is very long or too broad and does not fit on a single flat rack, two or more than two flat racks are connected to hold the cargo.

A 20 feet flat rack container has dimensions of 20’ x 8’ x 8’ 6” (height of the end walls) and they carry a payload of approximately 22 tons.

One advantage of flat rack containers is that empty flat racks can be stacked one on top of the other during storage to save space.

Open Top Containers

Open top containers also come in sizes of 40 feet and 20 feet, though custom-made containers are also available for special cargo. In such containers, cargo is usually loaded from the top using a crane or through the door using a heavy-duty forklift.

A 40 feet open top container has dimensions of 40’ x 8’ x 8’ 6”. These containers can carry a weight of up to 26 tons.

A 20 feet open top has dimensions of 20’ x 8’ x 8’ 6” (height of the end walls) and they carry a payload of approximately 28 tons.

The dimensions and payload capacity change between different makes of containers and container series.

Flatbeds or Platform Containers

Flatbeds or platform containers are also used to transport out of gauge cargo. As the name implies, they do not have any walls or a roof and hence the only restriction to follow is the weight of the OOG cargo.

A 20 feet flatbed with a floor-length of 19.88 feet has a payload of 31 tons. 40 feet flatbeds come in lengths of 39.99 feet each, with a payload capacity of 39 tons.

Like flat rack containers, flatbed containers can also be stacked one on top of the other during storage or transport of empties.


Why is the payload capacity between 20 feet and 40 feet containers disproportionate? If a 20 feet open top container can hold 28 tons, shouldn’t the 40 feet hold 56 tons?

This anomaly in payload between the two sizes of containers is because of the container design and weight restrictions of these designs. Carrying excess weight than what is prescribed by the container manufacturer can result in “container sagging’.

The container can crack under the excess weight causing damage to the cargo and other accidents.

Different countries may have different limits on container payloads. Since some out of gauge cargo weigh more than the prescribed limit, it is often disassembled and transported as parts and then later reassembled after reaching its destination.

Most of the containers that are used for carrying cargo have Safety Approval Plates in accordance with the CSC 1972 (Convention for Safe Containers 1972). This plate that is fixed on the container shows all the details of the container design and most importantly its gross weight. The gross weight is shown in both kilograms as well as pounds.

Gross weight is the total weight of the container and the payload it can carry. According to the CSC 1972, containers should undergo inspection at the container depot by certified inspectors within 5 years of the date of its manufacture and after that, once every 30 months to ascertain and certify their sea and road-worthiness.

Convention for Safe Containers 1972 (CSC 1972)

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the United Nations (UN) jointly promulgated a set of procedures for the handling of containers to ensure human safety during the transport of such containers. It set uniform international safety regulations to avoid confusion caused by the various regulations of different countries.

While the CSC 1972 applies to most transport containers, it, however, covers only containers of a prescribed minimum size. Containers that are covered under the CSC 1972 should be fitted with the Safety Approval Plate showing all the technical data pertaining to the container and its gross weight.

Over the last few decades, various amendments have been introduced to the original set of rules of CSC 1972 to incorporate additional safety and security measures.

Types of Cargo

Carriers transport cargo packed in containers, as dry bulk (mineral ores, grains, etc.), break-bulk (out of gauge cargo, oil drums, etc.), liquid bulk (crude oil, edible oil, etc.), and RO-RO or ROLL-ON/ROLL-OFF (normally automobiles that are driven into the carrier’s hold for transport and driven out of it upon reaching the destination).

The dimensions or weight of some out of gauge cargo may exceed the limits that normal equipment such as flat racks, open tops, or platform containers can handle.

In such cases, it is sometimes secured to the vessel directly, after taking into consideration the safety of the cargo, the vessel, and other cargo that are kept near the OOG cargo.

Monitoring Out of Gauge Cargo Onboard Ships

The deck officers of a cargo vessel are normally in charge of overseeing the loading and unloading of cargo. They work according to a loading/unloading plan which is prepared carefully. Slots to be left vacant adjacent to the out of gauge cargo must be planned.

For below-deck storage, the hatch cover clearance must be considered to avoid any damage to the cargo or the vessel. An even load onboard the vessel and an even discharge plan prevent the listing of the vessel especially when very heavy out of gauge cargo is present onboard the ship.

Good knowledge of the ballast operations and associated instruments help deck officers in their job. They have to ensure that OOG cargo is fixed to the twist-locks and lashed properly to the deck.

Rough seas can often cause these to come loose and therefore the deck officers must conduct periodic supervision during the sailing.

Out of Gauge Rate

Shipping companies usually require the following information from the shipper to provide them with a rate for transport of the out of gauge cargo.

  • Description of the out of gauge cargo.
  • Dimensions (longest length x broadest width x tallest height).
  • Weight of the OOG cargo in kilograms.
  • Point of loading.
  • Point of discharge.
  • Photos or drawings (front, side, and top views) showing the centre of gravity.
  • Lifting points of the OOG cargo.
  • Special instructions, if any.

Transferring and transporting out of gauge cargo requires a team of experts who can plan and execute the handling and transport of such cargo from its point of origin to the destination.

Most leading shipping and transport companies have separate teams to handle OOG cargo consignments.

Source: Marine Insight


Damaged Shipping Containers – Causes And Types

The modern – day shipping container is undoubtedly one of the most useful inventions of our time. From the days of hand-loading and unloading cargo boxes and items of different sizes and shapes, we have come a long way. From ordinary corrugated steel containers of the 1950s – 70s, today, we use containers made of high-quality Corten steel.

These heavy-duty containers are tough enough to withstand the knocks and bumps while being moved from one location to another by the different modes of transport – rail, truck, or ship. They can also withstand harsh weather conditions and are corrosion-resistant. They provide safety and security to the products within.

A well-maintained shipping container is watertight as well as airtight. These qualities make them ideal for transporting goods by sea, especially perishable goods.

But however tough they may be and as nature dictates, all elements are subject to ‘wear and tear and the efflux of time’.

Now, the question is, ‘Are such tough shipping containers prone to damage?’.

The simple answer is yes; shipping containers may get damaged when they are handled carelessly or due to natural disasters.

They may be damaged in the following situations:

  • While in storage at the container yard
  • During the handling and movement of the empty container
  • While loading cargo at the shipper’s premises
  • During the movement of the laden container by overland transport
  • While sailing onboard a ship
  • Unloading of the container at the port
  • While unloading cargo at the consignee’s premises
  • Returning the empty container

Causes of Container Damage

Careless Handling

A multimodal container is normally transported from one location to another by overland transport, such as rail or road, before it reaches the quayside for loading onboard a ship. In the process, it is lifted and moved several times, changing its position. Unless handled carefully, the container can get damaged easily.

Careless or inexperienced MHE operators can cause containers to hit against each other and result in extensive damage.

Heavy-duty cranes and forklifts have to be used carefully to avoid collisions with parked containers. Similarly, when containers, either laden or unladen, are not stacked properly, it can cause them to shift and collapse, causing damage to adjacent containers or property.

Lack of Training

Pallets have to be loaded correctly. Overloading of cargo or uneven weight distribution can cause it to topple over and, in turn, upset the container balance.

Loading and unloading staff have to ensure that pallets are stacked evenly and on a level surface. Overloading of cargo inside a container can cause the floorboard to sag and eventually crack.

Similarly, uneven weight distribution within a container can damage the container floor or cause it to topple from the trailer bed. In many cases, poor container yard conditions are also to blame for container damage.

Improper locking of the container to the trailer bed is a major cause of accidents while being transported over land. Besides ensuring that the container truck and trailer bed are in good condition, the driver of the truck has to ensure that the twist locks are engaged properly and the container secured. Reckless driving of container trucks can result in serious accidents.

During sailing, rough seas and harsh and inclement weather conditions may cause containers to break out of their lashings and get washed away into the sea. This may be the case, especially when a container is not secured properly onto the ship’s deck.

Some of them sink quickly to the ocean floor, while others may float for some time before sinking to the bottom. Containers that get knocked around on the deck or the ship’s hold can cause extensive damage to the ship as well as other containers on board, besides the goods inside getting damaged.

Dangerous Goods

Certain highly inflammable materials, like chemicals, can cause fire within the container while being transported if they are not packed properly following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Force Majeure

Natural disasters can cause damage and destruction to shipping containers or cargo. While most such disasters are completely unavoidable, steps can be put into place to minimise damages and loss.

In all cases, the cargo that a container carries must not deteriorate in quality and should reach its destination safely. A compromised cargo container can result in damage to the cargo within. Once damaged, certain types of goods may be dangerous for the port staff or other material handling equipment (MHE) to handle. It may result in grievous injuries or even fatalities.

Training and Best Practices

MHE operators, container truck drivers, and all those staff involved in the loading, unloading, and transportation of cargo have to be educated and trained properly on best practices to prevent accidents and damages.

Types of Container Damages

Container damages are generally classified as follows:

Damages to Container Door

The container door is made up of several parts, making it vulnerable to damage. Besides the Corten steel body of the door, it consists of the locks, the lock rods, hinges, and the rubber gasket. A shipping container with a door that does not close and seal properly is considered a damaged container. Also, an intact CSC plate issued by the relevant authorities, fixed on the container door, is mandatory for all international container cargo movements.


A dent is a local depression on the container wall that is normally caused by an impact.


Bulges are normally smooth depressions that protrude outward or inward from the container wall.


Scratches are caused by a sharp object, such as the forks of a heavy-duty forklift, when it hits and drags along the surface of the container without piercing it completely.

Fractures and Cracks

These are breaks on the container surface, normally in the form of a line, that may or may not have penetrated the steel wall of the container.


When the container wall is penetrated, and the two sides are pulled apart, we have a tear.


When a sharp object penetrates the container wall, it can cause a hole. Holes on a damaged shipping container can also be in the form of a perforation.

Dents, bulges, and scratches may or may not have damaged the goods that are stored in that particular area of the container.

Claiming Compensation for Damage

What are the steps to follow in case a shipping container is received in damaged condition?

The first step would be to take clear photographs of the damage, showing the container number and CSC plate. The next would be to inform the cargo carrier, your insurance company, and the shipper of the damage and the value of the damage if it can be worked out at that time.

The necessary shipping documents have to be provided to these parties to claim compensation. They are:

  • Statement of claim showing details of the loss
  • Bill of lading
  • Proof of delivery of goods
  • Insurance papers
  • The invoice showing the quantity and value of goods
  • Photographs of the damage

Following this, the insurance company will conduct a survey to ascertain the damage and its cause. Sometimes, the shipper, as well as the consignee’s insurance companies, will conduct a joint survey.

Once the surveyors agree on the cause and decide on who has to compensate and the amount to be paid to the consignee, the mode of disposing of the damaged goods is agreed upon and executed at an agreed date.

Certification of Shipping Containers

Who confirms the seaworthiness of a shipping container? Every country that is party to the CSC (Container Safety Convention 1972) has an Administration department that is in charge of issuing the CSC plates to seaworthy containers.

Upon request, certified third-party container inspectors will conduct a thorough inspection of a container to certify to the Administration of the respective country that the container is up to specifications and seaworthy. The Administration will then issue a CSC plate that is affixed to the container door.

Certified Third-party Container Inspectors

Such an inspection by certified third-party container inspectors covers the material of the container, the outside including the underside of the container, the doors, the inside, the ceiling, walls, and vents, if any. The exact dimensions of the container, as well as any repair work carried out on the container, are also taken into account during this inspection.

What Happens to Damaged Shipping Containers?

Generally, a container is made up of doors, corner castings, cross beams, the ceiling, walls, and the floor.

Sometimes, depending on the type of damage to a container, it may be repaired and used again for the transport of cargo. Or, it may be cut up, melted, and recycled for other uses. Damaged containers may be repaired and used as permanent storage containers or as cabins, living quarters, etc.

Some very badly damaged containers are left to rust on land or used to form artificial reefs.

These methods of disposal also apply to shipping containers that are retired or past their useful life of 20 – 25 years.

Any asbestos, lead, or other toxic components on the container are first removed before disposal by the above methods. Asbestos, which is highly resistant to corrosion and heat, is sometimes used in the insulation of shipping containers.

Prolonged exposure to asbestos can cause asbestosis, lung cancer, and other diseases. The marine paint used to protect heavy-duty Corten steel containers from rust and corrosion is usually high in lead and other harmful chromates.

It is estimated that much less than 1% of the total shipping containers in circulation globally are damaged or lost at sea each year.

Source: Marine Insight


How Port and Terminal Operators Can Control Emissions?

While the maritime industry has, in the past few years, been the subject of intense scrutiny for its GHG emissions, most of the regulatory focus has been on the shipping sector.

While this is not unusual given that it is the maritime transport leg of the supply chain that accounts for the bulk of emissions (primarily through its bunker consumption), there are other stakeholders that also contribute to emissions (albeit not of the same magnitude as shipping).

This set of stakeholders includes Maritime Ports and Terminal operators, who act as the link between sea and land transport, facilitating EXIM movement by functioning as gateways for vessels to berth at and discharge cargo.

Ports and terminals are capital-intensive assets, requiring significant investments for the acquisition of land, development of facilities, and purchasing of container handling equipment, all of which entail extensive construction activity.

Once constructed and operational, regular container/ cargo handling activity at the port and various ancillary activities also generate emissions.

These ongoing operational activities include the use of cranes and vehicles for moving cargo/ containers within the port premises, fuel consumed by cranes of various types, reach stackers, trucks, and other vehicles, administrative activities, etc., all of which are critical to the smooth functioning of the port.

Thus, the construction and operations of ports and terminals give rise to emissions right from the onset, attributable to the various activities that fall under the port’s scope.

Besides this, the port is considered to be indirectly responsible for emissions emanating from the activities of other entities operating from or using their premises and facilities.

Therefore, while designing and constructing the port and terminals therein, it is advisable to bear in mind the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an internationally agreed-upon set of goals ratified in 2015 as part of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Whether setting up a greenfield port, evaluating a port expansion project, or setting daily operational processes, it is essential to consider the impact on the SDGs.

To illustrate this point with specific examples, when conducting feasibility studies for a greenfield port, it is crucial to gauge the impact on the ecology and local society in the region.

Likewise, if the port doesn’t have a natural deep draught, dredging will have to be undertaken at frequent intervals, which will also impact the environment.

Once commissioned, the port can generate significant amounts of waste, which will have to be disposed of responsibly, for which appropriate arrangements will need to be made while designing and constructing the port.

As with all other industries, emissions from ports are categorised into:

  1. Scope 1: emissions directly emanating from the port’s operations
  2. Scope 2: the port’s indirect emissions from power generation
  3. Scope 3: Other indirect emissions

Given their unique position at the intersection of the sea and land legs, ports can not only regulate their own emissions but also help other stakeholders such as Carriers and Truckers in reducing their emissions.

There are certain measures that port authorities and terminal operators can undertake to reduce direct and indirect emissions, which are explained below:

1. Minimising or optimising energy consumption

Since port activities involve the consumption of extensive amounts of energy, it is essential that energy usage be minimised or optimised. This can be done by designing efficient processes that minimise movements and thus help reduce the consumption of energy.

For example, this would entail minimising housekeeping moves, where storage of containers in the port premises is planned such that each container can be easily accessed without the need to move other containers.

2. Green/ renewable energy sources

Given the sizeable energy requirements at ports and terminals, an increasing number of port authorities and terminal operators are looking at replacing conventional fuel-based energy sources with green or renewable energy. The objective is to use energy from clean sources, which will reduce the quantity of emissions and thus reduce pollution.

One such source is solar energy, which involves upfront investment in installation of solar panels, but thereafter generates benefits in the form of lower consumption of conventional energy, lower electricity costs, and reduced emissions.

In the UK, the Portsmouth International Port was the first in the country to utilise solar canopies to power its operations. In the US, the port of Corpus Christi, Texas, is another example of a port exploring solar energy.

3. Sensor-activated / Smart lighting systems:

Given the inherently hazardous nature of work in ports and the potential dangers involved, ports need to have adequate lighting to ensure visibility at all times so that employees and workers avoid accidents due to lack of visibility/ poor light. This obviously implies the consumption of large amounts of electricity.

A growing number of ports are, therefore, replacing standard lighting systems with smart lighting systems that are equipped with activity sensors, where lights switch on automatically when they sense movement and switch off when there is no movement. This helps ports reduce energy consumption, helping strike the right balance between safety and electricity consumption.

4. Cold ironing at Ports

Also known as Alternative Maritime Power or Shoreside Supply, cold ironing involves vessels utilising shore-based power while berthed at the port. The port makes arrangements for the vessel to use power from non/ less-polluting sources (potentially solar power, in the best-case scenario). The vessel is, therefore, able to avoid using bunkers, thus helping reduce emissions.

Cold ironing has been popular in North American and European ports, and China is also now focussing on this by including it in its 5-year plans.

5. Increasing port productivity and efficiency levels

A direct correlation exists between the productivity and efficiency levels at ports and emission levels. As ports and terminals strive to increase their productivity and overall efficiency, their activity levels reduce, thus resulting in lower emissions.

With faster handling of containers on board vessels, loading and unloading of cargo is finished quickly, reducing the vessel’s time at berth or port premises, resulting in lower emissions.

Also, if time is saved at the port, the vessel can subsequently sail at lower speeds and still maintain schedule reliability. Sailing at lower speeds reduces bunker consumption, which in turn lowers emissions.

Sharing data on time and as relevant also enables freight forwarders, onward transport providers, and consignees to proactively plan cargo movement as per timelines provided, which ensures prompt and timely evacuation of containers and also helps reduce waiting and idle time for trucks – all of which help reduce emissions.

6. Use of technology

The key to boosting efficiency and facilitating proactive planning is to utilise technological solutions to assist in operations management.

The market is replete with logtech solutions of varying functionalities and aimed at either the holistic supply chain or specific aspects thereof. Depending on requirements and the relative criticality of each activity, Terminal operators can select software that best meets their requirements.

Using technology can help optimise container and vehicle movements, as well as storage of containers, which reduces fuel consumption.

Likewise, using RFID tracking can help provide visibility to container status and location, which makes it easier to locate and move the container promptly.

In these and other ways, technology can assist in better planning and vessel and container handling, thus reducing wasteful movement, accelerating cargo movement, and generally reducing associated emissions.

7. Green corridors

Green corridors are an innovative concept intended to make the transit between 2 ports more eco-friendly and less polluting. A green shipping corridor connects 2 ports such that it facilitates lower (or zero) emissions by creating an entire ecosystem that is geared towards emission control, encompassing regulatory measures, ensuring the availability of green fuel along the route, and financial incentives.

Given their relative novelty and the extent of work involved, the idea is still catching on, with initially only the biggest ports evaluating its feasibility in connecting to their biggest destinations (such as on the Asia-Europe trade lane).

Source: Marine Insight


Port of Melbourne handles 270,000 TEUs in April

The Port of Melbourne has announced its trade figures for April, revealing a substantial 11.7% year-on-year increase in container throughput, reaching a total of 270,000 TEU.

Full container import volumes (excluding Bass Strait) showed a 7.9% increase compared to the previous year, with significant rises in furniture, domestic appliances, non-electrical machinery, and paperboard.

Similarly, full container export volumes (excluding Bass Strait) also experienced an 8.8% growth, driven by higher shipments of hay, chaff and fodder, barley, and meats.

Additionally, total empty container movements surpassed the volumes recorded in the previous year by 26%.

Source: Container News


What is an Open Top Container? Your complete guide [20′ & 40′]

An open top container is perfect for your out-of-gauge cargo needs. Read this blog to find out all about the benefits and uses of this container type. Plus, learn how to find open top containers at the best price on Container xChange.

Open top containers are special shipping containers that come without a fixed roof. They’re designed for the transport of tall, oddly-shaped or extra-large cargo. Thanks to the open top, a lot of industries are able to transport tricky cargo hassle free.

If this container type sounds perfect for your shipping needs, your first problem is out of the way. Next on the list? As open tops are rarer in the market, you might be wondering where to find them from reliable suppliers at the best prices.

Browse open top containers in various sizes by simply entering your location, the container type and the condition you’d prefer. You’ll get a list of offers that fit your budget in no time at all. So go ahead and try it out today.

What is an Open Top container?

Open top containers are similar to standard dry containers but come without a fixed roof. This container type is ideal for cargo that’s large, bulky or can’t be loaded through standard container doors. So goods can be loaded from the top using cranes or other heavy-duty lifting equipment. Additionally, you can get open top containers with doors on both ends as well as the open top.

How is cargo kept safe and secure during shipping?

In order to protect goods from wind and rain, a durable tarpaulin can be placed over the open top during shipping. The cover and doors can also be locked and sealed at customs to keep shipments from being tampered with or damaged.

As the tarpaulin is more tricky to lock than doors, it’s usually fitted with clamps that can only be unlocked with a special device. Additionally, open top containers are monitored throughout the shipping process in order to prevent theft and vandalism.

Due to the open top, oddly-shaped and extra-height cargo is able to protrude safely from the container if needs be, whilst still being covered by the tarpaulin. While open tops can be stacked if cargo is horizontal, this is not possible if cargo protrudes. In these cases, the open tops are usually kept separate to prevent damage. Cargo is then secured using lashing rings to keep it from shifting or sliding during shipping.

Capacity of an open top container

Open top containers come in two main sizes: 20ft and 40ft. Choosing the correct size for your cargo will depend on the dimensions and weight of your shipments. It’s important to calculate this before making any decisions on which container size to purchase.

The 20ft open top container has a capacity of 32.7 m3 / 1,155 cu ft, and the 40ft has a capacity of 66.7 m3 / 2,356 cu ft. We’ll get into more detail on the dimensions of each size later on in this piece.

Common uses of open top containers

As we mentioned above, open top containers are ideal for cargo that exceeds the height or width restrictions of standard containers, as well as goods that are too big to be loaded through standard container doors.

If you’re moving the following types of goods, consider using open top containers:

  • Large/oddly-shaped machinery
  • Pipes
  • Long steel bars
  • Spools of wire
  • Scrap material
  • Bulk coal
  • Trees
  • Construction materials
  • Glass slabs
  • Wood logs or timbre

20ft open top container dimensions

The 20ft open top container is one of the most commonly used container sizes. It’s lightweight and perfect for smaller shipments of bulky or out-of-gauge cargo. Let’s take a look at the dimensions of the 20ft open top container now.

Measure 20ft open top container
External length 6.058m / 19.8ft
External width 2.438m / 7.9ft
External height 2.591m / 8.5ft
Internal length 5.89m / 19.4ft
Internal width 2.35m / 7.8ft
Internal height 2.35m / 7.8ft
Tare weight 2,260kg / 5,982 lbs
Payload capacity 28,220 kg / 62,214 lbs
Cubic capacity 32.7 m3 / 1,155 cu ft

40ft open top container size

While we’re at it, let’s take a quick look at the dimensions and specifications of the 40ft open top container too. If you’ve got larger shipments of bulky cargo, this size is ideal.

Measure 40ft open top container
External length 12.192m / 40ft
External width 2.438m / 7.9ft
External height 2.591m / 8.5ft
Internal length 12.03m / 39.5ft
Internal width 2.4m / 7.9ft
Internal height 2.34m / 7.8ft
Tare weight 3,980kg / 8,774 lbs
Payload capacity 26,500kg / 58,422 lbs
Cubic capacity 66.7 m3 / 2,356 cu ft

How much does an open top shipping container cost?

Now that you know all about the uses and dimensions of open top containers, we’re sure you’re curious about the prices too. It’s important to note that the cost of shipping containers fluctuates constantly and depend on factors such as:

  • Container type
  • Container condition (Brand new, cargo-worthy, WWT, As-Is)
  • Location
  • Current supply and demand of the container type
  • Container size

Check out how much 20ft and 40ft open top containers cost in various locations around the world now.

Location 20ft open top 40ft open top
USA US $3,244 US $7,116
China US $2,765 US $5,124
India US $5,142 No data
Europe US $3,033 US $5,688

Source: xChange Container


Port Houston Posts Double Digit Box Growth – Container Volumes Up 12 Percent Through April

Port Houston continues to exceed last year’s container volumes and is up 12% through April with 1,394,094 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). In the month of April, 324,177 TEUs moved through the Port, which represents a 5% increase compared to the previous year’s April figures.

A closer look at container cargo shows strong volume for both loaded imports and loaded exports as both directions continue an upward trend. Loaded imports are up 4% for the month and 12% year-to- date through April, totaling 632,886 TEUs, following a recent surge in new import distribution centers constructed in the area. Compared to 2023, loaded exports handled in April were up 8%, while year-to- date volumes have surged 14%, totaling 523,426 TEUs. The rise in exports is attributed to the demand for regionally produced automotive, furniture, cotton, and plastic resin goods. Port Houston continues to be the nation’s top gateway for resin exports, with a market share of 60%.

In response to the increased volumes at Bayport and Barbours Cut Container Terminals, Port Houston is shifting customers to use its Express Pass appointment system. This timeless appointment option allows trucking companies to initiate transactions prior to arriving. It also provides access to dedicated Express Pass lanes and reduces ingate transaction time, which in turn improves truck turn times in and out of the facilities.

“Our Express Pass system is designed to enhance efficiency at our container terminals. It improves customer truck turn times by providing our team with greater visibility and predictability, which helps us work smarter,” said Roger Guenther, Executive Director of Port Houston. “By using this system, our customers are helping us help them reduce their time spent at our terminals. With 10,000 truck visits on average each day every minute, every second, matters.”

General cargo moving through Port Houston’s multipurpose facilities has slowed. Steel volumes decreased by 32% in April compared to the same month last year, while other commodities, such as fertilizer, molasses, and tallow, have shown gains. 
Total tonnage at Port Houston increased by 4% to 17,559,014 tons year-to-date.

Source: Port Houston


Qingdao Port’s fully automated terminal set a new world record for the eighth time


Recently, the fully automated container terminal at Qingdao Port achieved average efficiency of 52.7 units/hour for single crane during the handling operations of the ship “NYK VENUS”, setting a new world record for the eighth time. Previously the record set by the port in last August stood at 52.1 units/hour. The Liangang Innovation Team achieved self break-through and showed “Chinese speed” with the highest record.

At present, the epidemic situation at home and abroad is complicated, Qingdao Port actively takes the responsibility in epidemic prevention and control, and performs better in production and operation, to ensure that the higher loading and unloading efficiency and the better service quality, obstaining the highly praise from customers. Qingdao Port’s fully automated container terminal broke the world record for the eighth time, injecting a booster for the vast number of shipping companies and customers with the strength of science and technology.

Source: Qingdao Port


Georgia Ports auto volumes up 44 percent in April

In its busiest month ever for autos and heavy equipment, the Georgia Ports Authority handled a record 80,600 units of Roll-on/Roll-off cargo in April, an increase of more than 44 percent, or 24,760 units, compared to the same month last year, according to a report to the GPA Board.

Also at the May 21 meeting, Board members re-elected Chairman Kent Fountain, Vice Chairman Alec Poitevint and Secretary-Treasurer Chris Womack to a second term in those positions. The officers were first elected in 2023. Their new terms start July 1.

“I want to thank Kent, Alec, and Chris, as well as the entire team at GPA, for their leadership in making our ports an incredible driver of economic opportunity,” said Gov. Brian Kemp. “Thanks to their efforts, Georgia’s ports have navigated recent challenges in global trade while continuing to outpace the competition.”

GPA President and CEO Griff Lynch said several factors are leading to growth at the Port of Brunswick.

Asian imports remain strong, but we are also seeing an uptick in vehicle exports, new customers have chosen Georgia Ports, and we have increased capacity for existing customers,” Lynch reported at the GPA board meeting. “Additionally, manufacturers are working to raise dealership stocks from the current 14-day inventories to 30 days’ worth of vehicles.”

In addition to organic growth, diversions from the Port of Baltimore increased volumes at Colonel’s Island Terminal. Approximately 9,000 import vehicles were diverted to Brunswick, as well as another 1,000 units of high/heavy equipment. Heavy machinery exports were up by 500 units compared to GPA’s monthly average of 246 units for fiscal year 2024. “We are expecting the impact of diverted cargo to taper off in June, as the Port of Baltimore works to fully restore service,” Lynch added.

For the first three quarters of FY2024 (July 1, 2023 – March 31, 2024), GPA averaged 69,880 units per month in total Ro/Ro.

April Container Volumes

In container trade, the Port of Savannah moved 441,000 twenty-foot equivalent container units in April, an increase of 8 percent, or more than 32,000 TEUs compared to the same month last year. It was GPA’s third busiest April on record after 2021 and 2022.

“The teamwork among our GPA employees, ILA locals, stevedores and others delivers the world-class service that cargo owners have come to expect from Georgia Ports,” said GPA Board Chairman Kent Fountain. “The unmatched efficiency at the ports of Brunswick and Savannah is one reason Georgia has been chosen as the best state to do business for ten years in a row.”

Import loads reached 211,900 TEUs, up 8.3 percent or 16,200 TEUs compared to April 2023. Export loads accounted for 122,500 TEUs last month, an increase of 4,235 TEUs or 3.6 percent.

Source: Georgia Ports Authority


Oakland’s box volumes recover in April

The Port of Oakland’s April container volume showed a 17% increase in full TEUs for the first four months of 2024 compared to the same period in the previous year.

This reflects Oakland’s return to its historical average cargo volumes, rebounding from 2022 and 2023 declines.

Full imports rose year-over-year for the sixth consecutive month (November 2023 – April 2024). The Californian port posted a 7.5% uptick in loaded imports in April 2024, handling 75,335 TEUs this April.

Full exports also increased 6.9% in April 2024. Port operators managed 67,566 TEUs this April, in contrast to 63,193 TEUs in April 2023. Greater schedule reliability for vessels is bringing back agricultural shippers that rely on predictable ship departures, according to a statement.

“It’s encouraging to see Oakland recover cargo volume as we focus on long term growth,” said Port of Oakland Maritime Director Bryan Brandes. “Our investments in upgrading Port infrastructure are paying off, and they position us ideally to capture future freight business with increasing demand.”

Meanwhile, empty imports dropped 0.4% transiting 16,357 TEUs in April 2024, while empty exports jumped 18.7%, handling 29,375 TEUs in April 2024.

Source: Container News


Higher consumption in China, US contributed to rate spike

Rising consumption before and after China’s Labour Day holiday, the Canadian railroad strike and concerns relating to the labour-management conflict at US ports are contributing to the ongoing spike in freight rates, according to a report released by Korea Ocean Business Corporation (KOBC).

The report stated that besides the oft-cited Red Sea crisis and the resulting shortage of vessels and containers, other factors have also accounted for the surge in freight rates.

“During the Labour Day holiday in China from 1-5 May, many places were crowded and consumption surged,” noted KOBC.

Impetus for consumption came from the Chinese government, which has declared 2024 the “year of promoting consumption” to revitalize demand. As part of the push, the government encouraged people to renovate their homes and replace old goods.

Consumers in China also received subsidies of up to CNY 10,000 (US$1,380) to replace their conventional vehicles with electric or hybrid ones.

During the Labour Day holiday, trade-ins of old goods were held, helping sales of vehicles, home appliances and furniture to go up by 5% to 8% from last year. E-commerce sales showed rapid growth, increasing nearly 16% year-on-year. Throughput in Shanghai port went up by 4% year-on-year in April, to 4.18 million TEUs.

Fears that Canadian rail workers could go on strike also pushed up Transpacific rates. Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Kansas City are still hoping to work with Teamsters Canada Rail Conference to avert the strike originally planned for 22 May.
Meanwhile, US consumer demand is picking up and is contributing to an increase in US containerised imports.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), in March, import volume at major US container ports stood at 1.93 million TEU, an increase of nearly 19% compared to the same month of the previous year.

KOBC said: “It’s expected that US demand fundamentals will continue to improve compared to the previous year, exceeding 2 million TEU by the third quarter.”

Source: Container News