The container: a key tool in the international export of goods

The container is the medium used in multimodal transport where goods are introduced, forming a cargo unit.

Its use is widespread in international trade, especially in maritime transport. The means of transport are adapted to the measurements of standard containers, which makes it much easier to move, load and unload.

Container functions

There are several functions that a container performs, including:

Serve as a cargo unit for combined transport.

Serve as packaging. Containers are an "additional packaging" that protects the cargo and contributes to a large extent the door-to-door service without ups and downs.

Facilitate stacking, for security reasons and for the storage of products in their place of origin, before being transported, during transit or at the place of destination.

Streamline handling in the transport of products, from the production line to the cargo terminal.


Since its introduction, there have been numerous advantages provided by the container to international transport.  The use of the container has specific advantages for each of the different modes of transport:

Rail transport: Allows higher rolling equipment performance, greater convenience, since containers can be stacked up to two per wagon.

Road transport: The use of the container translates into significant time savings for both drivers and trucks, as well as ensuring a constant flow of cargo.

Maritime transport: Low permanence of ships in the port, lower port costs and reduced congestion in their warehouses.

Air transport: Containers allow expedited handling and high efficiency in loading and unloading operation, as well as better use of space in the lower and main warehouses of aircraft. Air containers are different in design, measurement and uses.

Multimodal transport: Containerization is one of the main factors in its emergence.  It allows direct, logical and economic transit in the movement of cargo.

All modes of transport provide service for the mobilization of containers, usually through specialized vehicles.  However, taking into account that the capacity of a container may exceed the amount of cargo of a single shipper, cargo belonging to other vessels can almost always be consolidated (grouped) in order to complete the entire quota.  This consolidation of the load is done through different methods and constitutes a service that is commonly provided by some agents that are part of the process.

Types of containers

In the logistics environment, the most used containers are those of 20 and 40 feet long, developing on these measures a series of variations in long and high lengths to meet the specific requirements of customers.  The most common container types are:

Surface containers.

Cargo containers in general.

Open top containers or open roof.

Multi-use containers.

Refrigerated containers.

Containers for liquids or liquid gases.

Side opening containers with platform.

Containers for air use.

ZonaLogistic Source

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