What is Flat Rack Containers? Shipping containers guide

What is Flat Rack Containers? - Shipping containers guide

Defining Flat Rack Containers:

Flat rack containers are characterized by their open construction, typically with collapsible sides. They are designed to accommodate oversized or uniquely shaped cargo that wouldn't fit into standard containers. This makes them a preferred choice for transporting machinery, vehicles, or other large items.

Common Uses of Flat Rack Containers:

Flat rack containers find applications in various industries due to their adaptability. Some common uses include transporting:

  • Industrial machinery

  • Large vehicles (such as construction equipment)

  • Steel and other heavy materials

Understanding the pros and cons of flat rack containers is crucial for businesses involved in international trade. Whether the priority is flexibility, cost efficiency, or cargo protection, choosing the right container type is a strategic decision that impacts the overall success of shipping operations.

Stay tuned for the continuation of this exploration into flat rack containers, where we delve deeper into specific use cases and practical tips for maximizing the benefits of this container type.

Types of flat rack shipping containers

Collapsible flat rack container

Containers that have walls along the base borders that can be folded or removed When not in use. These walls are ideal for storing goods because they can be quickly separated to provide more room.

Non-Collapsible (fixed) flat rack container

On the short sides of a Non-Collapsible flat rack are fixed ends. Fixed end flat racks may withstand larger top weights since their construction is typically stronger.

What is Flat Rack Containers? Shipping containers guide

The dimensions and weight of a flat rack container

The outward dimensions of flat rack containers are essentially the same as those of other containers. The primary distinction is that they lack a door or any other apertures that could help with the measuring, and their walls are one-sided.

20’ Flat Rack Container

The 20-foot flat rack container is mostly used by traders to transport bulky items like machinery and pipelines. A 20'flat rack container with collapsible or non-collapsible options are available.

40’ Flat Rack Container

If the 20-foot flat rack container isn't large enough for traders to keep their goods, they utilise this one. Heavy items, including machinery that must be loaded from the top, are best stored in 40-foot flat rack containers.

The Pros and Cons of Flat Rack Containers

In the world of shipping, choosing the right container can make all the difference in the efficiency and safety of transporting goods. Flat rack containers are a versatile option, but like any solution, they come with their own set of advantages and drawbacks.

Advantages of Flat Rack Containers:

1- Flexible Loading and Unloading:

Flat rack containers feature open sides and ends, providing flexibility in loading and unloading oversized or heavy cargo. This adaptability makes them ideal for irregularly shaped items that wouldn't fit into standard containers.

2- Saves up Space

When four collapsible flat racks are piled on top of one another, they occupy the same space as one regular container.

3- Secure and Stable Transportation:

These containers often come equipped with lashing rings and secure points, ensuring that cargo stays firmly in place during transit. This feature is especially valuable for items that require stability and protection from shifting during the journey.

4- Cost-Efficient for Certain Cargo:

When transporting large or bulky items, flat rack containers can be a cost-effective solution. Their design allows for efficient use of space, potentially reducing overall shipping costs compared to alternatives for specific types of cargo.

For more information on container types, you can visit our Container Types guide.

Disadvantages of Flat Rack Containers:

1- Limited Protection from Elements:

Unlike enclosed containers, flat racks offer limited protection from the elements. Cargo may be exposed to weather conditions during transit, making them less suitable for goods sensitive to temperature, humidity, or other environmental factors.

2- Complex Handling and Stacking:

The unique design of flat rack containers requires specialized handling and stacking equipment. This can add complexity to logistics operations, and not all ports or shipping facilities may have the necessary machinery for efficient handling.

How to load Flat Rack Containers

  • Make sure that bundled materials like timber and pipes are securely fastened together.

  • In order to guarantee proper weight distribution over both length and width and to keep the main area of gravity from being too far "off-center," cargo should be positioned on the flat rack.

  • Strap every bundle and level of bundles when you place two on top of each other. 

  • Over-width cargo and respective blocking and bracing materials should not be stowed within 30 cm (12”) of the corner posts of a flat rack as this would increase the potential of damages by hitting other containers or structures as it is transported.

  • Very short cargo is limited to half of the payload.

  • Antislip material: Any contact of metal to metal should be avoided. It is recommended to positioned wood dunnage or comparable antislip materials (rubber) between the metal cargo surfaces and the flat rack bottom rails. The amount of lashings needed is reduced when anti-slip material with a high friction coefficient is used.

Difference Between Flat Rack and Open Top Containers:

Flat rack containers and open-top containers share similarities, but their key distinction lies in the top structure. While flat rack containers have a fixed top with open sides, open-top containers have a removable tarpaulin or convertible top. Each type caters to specific cargo and loading requirements.

Flat racks shipping containers are a necessary component of the freight industry. They can be employed in a range of situations and offer a robust and adaptable solution for moving big, odd loads.

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