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The several types of an Intermodal container

An intermodal container is perhaps the most commonly used freight container. In the standard form it is made of steel boxes which are standardized as well as reusable. Intermodal can be translated into containers that can be shifted or utilized from one mode of transport to another without having to unload or reload. They are useful for efficiently securing and storing products and for movement of these goods in containerized transport system.

The system of containerization was developed after the second world war to not only cut down costs but also to support the large body of international trade. Hence, it is a freight transport system which is based on a steel intermodal container.  It was first developed in England for the coal mining rail network system and later transformed to even to road transport system.

Earlier on many container sizes and fittings were used which were impractical and incompatible container development systems. Hence, an intermodal container was standardized on agreement between several countries especially USA and Europe. This was done with the help of the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) on whose recommendations the intermodal containers were standardized globally.

There are many types of an intermodal container and may include simple boxes with an end door. They may be insulated or equipped with equipment that regulates hot or cold temperatures such as refrigerator containers. This temperature control equipment can be built inside the box or even externally utilizing other energy resources.

Some containers may be classified as a tank container which is used for transporting liquids as well as bulky materials. They usually have a cylinder which resembles a tank on a steel framework. Other type also includes a ‘flat rack’ which has an open side and almost resembles the basic containers. They may also be collapsible in order to fold away a flat rack in case it is not carrying any resources. Dry vans are another category which may be brought to general use for loading objects that are square or rectangular in nature such as boxes, cases etc. Insulated shipping containers are used for transporting products that need to be isolated from external elements. Rolling floor containers are used for bulky cargoes which are difficult to manage.

Products like coal, fertilizers and building materials can be transported using intermodal transport. Open top containers are commonly used to handle heavy machinery. They are also known as flat rack containers. For organic products it is best to use tank containers that are useful in storing goods that require ventilation and also help to ship dangerous goods.

Swop body containers are used in standard measure for road and rail transport. These are not readily stackable or carried easily as they minimize empty weight and cost lesser as well to transport. However, these are not suitable for ship-based transportation.

An intermodal container is transported using container ships, trains or semi-trailer trucks which are transported from point to point without unloading or reloading. ‘Twist lock’ points are used to secure the units while handling the freight and BIC code which is printed on the container is used for identifying and tracking. The intermodal containers are capable of carrying loads up to 25 tones.

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