Open Top Container

The open top container is one of the standard international shipping containers, yet it has characteristics that make it particularly unique. An open top container is a 20-foot or 40-foot container with the distinct difference of being open at the top and covered with a tarp whenever possible. The open top container has an additional cost because there are not usually many units available and it is difficult to reassign them when they go to other ports (i.e. return empty).

The open top container is a container that is used in shipping to export or import goods that do not fit because, it may be too big in terms of height issues (e.g. machinery) or because the merchandise is very heavy and difficult to load sideways so needs it to be loaded from above by a specific crane instead.

The cost of shipping with an open top is usually the price of the standard 20 foot or 40 foot container plus an additional cost charged at the destination for being open top. The price is not fixed because it depends on the route and destinations demand for returning the container with merchandise. These prices are locked whenever the container is “in gauge”, i.e. the goods do not protrude above the container canvas. If protruding, the price can fluctuate enormously; this is because it becomes impossible to stack containers above it and so occupies the space from other containers, thus being an uneconomic container for shipping companies.

Container dimensions are usually measured using the imperial system (feet) and specifies both the exterior dimensions and the interior or usable dimensions. There are both 20-foot and 40-foot open top containers available.

  • Exterior Dimensions (in feet): 20/ 40 feet long x 8 feet wide x 8 feet 6 inches tall
  • Exterior Dimensions (in meters): 6.10/ 12.19 meters long x 2.44 meters wide x 2.59 meters high
  • Interior Dimensions (in feet): 19 feet 4 inches/ 39feet 6 inches long x 7 feet 9 inches wide x 7 feet 10 inches tall
  • Internal Dimensions (in meters): 5.898/ 12.025 meters long x 2.352 meters wide x 2.393 meters high

A 20-foot open top container can support a load of about 28 tons while a 40-foot open top container can support around 30 tons.

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