In the complex world of international freight transport, business needs can evolve quickly. You may have built a successful logistics operation around moving your goods on trailers throughout continental Europe. But now, you’re considering a change — shifting to shipping containers.

This move can often be prompted by cheaper cost if you’re goods aren’t urgent, or by routing complications where instead of transiting through various countries and customs regimes, you may be able to ship straight into the destination countries port.

However, making the move from trailer to container needs some careful consideration. Here we provide a brief overview to understand what container is required for your palletised cargo.

Understanding Shipping Containers

Shipping containers are modular, stackable units used to carry freight by ship, rail, or road. Originally standardized in the 1950s, they’ve revolutionized the global trade industry by allowing quick, efficient loading and unloading of goods. They come in a variety of types and sizes, catering to the diverse needs of industries around the globe.

Types and Sizes of Shipping Containers

  1. Standard Containers: Also known as dry storage containers, these are the most common type. They come in two standard sizes: 20-foot and 40-foot lengths. The former can carry about 10 standard pallets, and the latter can carry about 20-21 standard pallets.

Important note: A standard container has an external width of 2.4m but an internal width of only 2.348m.

  1. Pallet Wide Containers: Specially designed to accommodate more Euro-pallets, these are an excellent choice for shipping throughout Europe.

Important note: A pallet-wide container has an external width of 2.462m with a nice euro-pallet friendly internal width of 2.438m

NB – It’s possible pallet-wide container operators have slightly different dimensions but accommodating euro-pallets efficiently and maximising space is still the purpose.

This difference enables a customer to load 30 Euro-pallets in a 40’ Pallet-Wide-Container in comparison to 25 in a 40’ standard container and reduces the risk of the cargo moving in transit.

Also keep in mind a key benefit, that a container can take measurably more in weight compared to a trailer.

Transitioning from pallet-wide trailers

Transitioning from pallet wide trailers to pallet wide containers offers several advantages. Along with the increased capacity, shipping containers offer improved protection against weather and damage. They can be stacked, which optimizes space in ship, rail, and yard storage. Additionally, the ability to transport by multiple modes—sea, rail, and road—provides flexibility and allows for seamless intermodal freight transport.

As you embark on this transition, keep in mind that your shipping provider should have experience handling the type of goods you’re shipping. Certain goods may require specific containers or special handling procedures, so be sure to communicate your needs upfront.

In conclusion, pallet wide containers can provide an efficient and cost-effective solution for businesses looking to optimize their logistics, especially those routinely transporting non-time-sensitive goods across Europe.