The use of intermodal containers has transformed the transportation and logistics sector. These containers, different from the other types of shipping containers, get their name because of their suitability for use across different modes of transportation. Shippers use intermodal containers for long-distance freight transport because of their efficiency and ability to minimize fuel costs by up to 30%. According to UNCTAD, ports worldwide handled over 815 million TEUs of containers in 2020.

What Are Intermodal Containers?

As the name suggests, intermodal containers are designed for use across various transportation modes without the need to unload and load cargo. Manufacturers follow ISO specifications to standardize them for use across different transportation modes. The ISO guidelines also ensure structural integrity for long life and protection of the cargo against all kinds of weather and handling during transport by sea, road, rail, and air. Intermodal containers are available in the standard sizes of 20 feet, 40 feet, and 20 feet High Cube. Also, for your shipping business, you can prefer Sea Containers For Sale which help to manage your business more efficiently.

Different Kinds of Intermodal Containers

There are quite a few types of intermodal containers to enable them to carry different types of cargo more efficiently and safely.

Dry freight containers: These containers are the most common type and are suited for all types of general cargo. The airtight containers protect the goods from the elements and do not have any ventilation.

Tank containers: These containers, made of corrosion-proof materials, carry liquids and powders. Shipping guidelines specify that they must be more than 80% full to prevent the container from overflowing, but the cargo should not exceed 95% of the tank capacity to leave enough room for thermal expansion. It is common for shippers to customize tank containers to suit different types of cargo for better freight management.

Insulated containers: Shippers use these containers to move all kinds of perishable freight. Their design and construction allow them to maintain the temperature to acceptable limits even though they do not have any capability to heat or cool the contents.

Reefer containers: These containers meant for transporting perishable goods have an inbuilt refrigeration unit that can maintain the internal temperature in the range of -65 degrees C to 40 degrees C, as required. Shippers use these containers for transporting meat, fish, poultry, and drugs.

Flat rack containers: Unlike other intermodal containers with fixed sides, the sides of flat rack containers are foldable. It makes them suited for carrying wide or heavy shipments.

Open-top: shippers use these containers to overcome the limitations of closed-box containers, as the roofless containers can accommodate bulky or odd-shaped cargo.


There are numerous benefits of using intermodal containers to carry freight. Given that shippers find it impossible to transport containers quickly, economically, and safely without switching transportation modes. The use of intermodal containers allows shippers to ship the cargo with any loading or unloading right from when they leave the warehouse to the time it arrives at the customer’s place. You can carry all types of cargo in various types of intermodal containers. Using these containers saves time and effort and is significantly less expensive. Shippers have better visibility of the container at all times, helping prevent delays, damage, and theft of the goods.