Shipping Containers

What Are High Cube Containers in Shipping? Meaning, Types & Uses

Maritime shipping has witnessed a steady growth between 1980 and 2020 with over 1.5 billion tons of cargo being transported in 2020 alone. Shippers prefer containerization as the most efficient and cost-effective means to load cargo at the departure and unload them at the destination.

Maritime containers find application in transporting all cargo types, including boxes, pallets, breakbulk loads, etc. These containers are highly durable and withstand heat or water damage.

The standard container size that is typically referred to are the 20 feet containers, also called the TEUs. The dimensions, sizes and capacity of these are covered in this post.

This article introduces high cube containers and gives a detailed account of their types.

What Are High Cube Containers?
High cube containers are metal boxes for transporting cargo on sea or rail voyages. Their high volume and light weight add to their usability. Experts recommend high cube containers, particularly due to their ability to withstand harsh climate conditions.

High cube containers are taller in dimension than standard containers and are available in various sizes. High cube containers can accommodate taller cargo owing to their additional one foot in height. They are available in 20, 40, and 45-foot variants.

Features of High Cube Container
High cube containers are high-quality corrugated steel boxes that provide stability and assure cargo durability.

Technically, they are 30 cm higher than standard containers, allowing extra room for loading more or high-volume cargo. High cube containers can carry bulkier loads like heavy equipment, furniture and oil.
Loading and unloading cargo into these containers involve mounting loads on multiple lashing rings from both top end and bottom cross sides. To fit a 40 ft high cube shipping container into gooseneck chassis, container manufacturers install a recess or continuous dent on the floor to position the containers.
Like standard containers, the high cube variant can house all sorts of cargo, preferably lightweight. The extra height provides room for voluminous cargo up to 2.7 m high. Although generally used for transporting heavy equipment, they can also serve as temporary dwellings or budget home renovation.
Also Read: 24 Types of Containers used in International Shipping

Dimensions of High Cube Container
High cube containers are available in 20, 40 and 45-foot variants. Factors determining a shipper’s choice to choose a particular variant include tare weight and maximum cargo capacity.

20 ft High Cube Container
With an exterior height measuring 9’6”, 20-foot high cube container is the most widely used general purpose box of steel which stores, transports and safeguards cargo up to 8799 LBS. They may come with single or double doors on both ends. Depending on cargo type and special requests, there are different sub-variants of these high cube shipping container sizes.
Built of CORTEN anti-corrosive steel, these shipping containers provide structural strength and reduce wear and tear. Generally, the floors are lined with marine-grade plywood sheets that prevent fungal infestations and moisture. ISO specifications state containers should be equipped with secure lock boxes and side vents. The 20-foot HC containers are secure watertight storage units that can be transported on vessels and rail.

40 ft High Cube Container
Similar to the 20-foot variant, the 40-foot high cube container also has an exterior height of 9’6” and can fit high volume & comparatively lighter loads. According to ISO specifications, these containers are meant for temporary or permanent storage and have ground-level access. 40 ft high cube container requires less than 100 feet of space for loading and unloading. With a maximum door height of 8’5”, they can fit up to 26,300kg. They can also have various customizations like adding a refrigerant unit or multiple pallet designs. Each 40 Ft HC container can contain up to 21 standard pallets compared to 20 pallets in standard containers. 40 ft HC containers have a high shelf life of up to 10-12 years and can be refurbished for further usage.

45 ft High Cube Container
These 9’6” high containers load high-volume cargo that can fit in one container. With a maximum capacity of 27,860 kg and over 86 cubic meters of cargo, it is the most obvious choice for transporting voluminous cargo like building materials, machinery, furniture, etc.

Uses of High Cube Container
High cube containers can transport and store cargo with higher surface area and volume. Most high cube containers are waterproof and can serve as a temporary storage option. Some common benefits of high cube containers are as follows:

1. Temporary Storage of Goods Goods might not reach their destination immediately after offloading from the vessel. Therefore, they need to be stored inside the containers for a while. The extra volume in high cube containers allows for storing and keeping cargo safe.

2. Durable and Waterproof Like standard containers, high cube shipping containers are also waterproof and can safeguard cargo at all costs. Their galvanized anti-corrosive steel body can reduce the dangers of fire, theft, adverse weather conditions, and mishandling during loading and unloading.

3. Cost Efficient and Easily Transportable High cube containers permit transportation of voluminous cargo from departure to delivery. With the numerous lashing rings, they can bear weights up to 1,000 kg and ensure that the container maintains its center of gravity. This allows easier mounting and unloading in freight ships or freight trains.

4. Ability to Carry Special Loads Thanks to the additional height, high cube containers allow air-conditioning, ventilation or additional layering modifications. This enables them to carry sensitive electronic and electrical equipment, household furniture or charitable supplies.

High Cube Containers vs Standard Containers
High Cube Containers vs Standard Containers

Also Read: Reefer Container | Meaning & The Complete Guide

What Are the Factors to Consider in Choosing High Cube Containers?
High cube shipping involves dealing with containers that are taller than standard containers. Choosing the right one depends on requirements, budget and cargo weight.

Requirement: Unlike standard containers, high cube variants can serve many functions, including long-term storage or human occupancy. The extra space provides enough room for large cargo. However, there are certain building codes and compliances that users need to understand and follow before using HC containers.

Cargo Weight: High cube containers can contain 775 LBS of weight than standard containers. This allows transport and storage of voluminous and heavier loads, although experts recommend loading relatively less bulky loads.

Budget: Depending on one’s requirements and cargo weight, net expenses incurred in high cube containerization may vary. For general LCL shipments, there are no significant changes in price or shipping in these containers unless there are special requests.

Depending on the shipper’s request, there are innumerable modifications to high cube containers. Apart from the 20 ft high cube container and other variants, special 53’ containers find applications for carrying bulkier cargo like grains, coal, or other minerals. Open-top and side-loading containers can have cargo or roller doors with additional customizations. Choosing the ideal high cube container involves understanding the precise requirements and the range of options available. Unlike standard containers, high cube containers can accommodate people or store cargo for longer periods.

Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why is standardization in cargo specifications important? Engineers design containers based on the standardized option available in vessels. Containers should make room for standard and high cube containers and allow hassle-free container movement. A 40-foot high cube container, for example, makes a difference when stacked inside vessels or ports, with each stack ranging up to 21 units high.

2. Can high cube containers provide additional insulation for storing sensitive cargo and perishable food items? Normally, high cube containers are made of CORTEN anti-corrosion steel sheets. Depending on the requirement and shipper’s budget, they can contain additional layers of wood, fiber or plastic to provide further insulation from heat or rain.

3. What are some challenges faced by high cube containers? Firstly, shippers may face difficulty storing these tall shipping containers in standardized vessels and stacks because of the additional height. Secondly, high cube containers require additional chassis or a wagon to load them to avoid complications while loading or unloading cargo. Finally, certain locations have height restrictions for vessels and cargo. High cube containers may not obtain the green flag for passing these areas due to their sheer size.

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