When you’re just getting started in logistics, shipping items in containers can feel like a difficult task. There are a lot of options involved in the process, including container types, sizes, uses, pallet selection, and modes of shipping. Even if you’re an experienced shipper you’ll want to make sure that you’re maximizing the space in the containers that you already use to make sure you’re getting the best return on investment possible.
When shipping with ocean containers it’s important to make sure you’re planning your shipments as efficiently as possible so you don’t waste money. Learning more about maximizing container space will help you create a more organized, productive, and cost-effective shipping strategy. You can use this resource as a guide to improving the logistics of your business.
The focus of this article will be on 20-foot and 40-foot containers. For more information on container descriptions, dimensions, and uses read our “Complete Guide to Ocean Shipping Containers” blog post.
How are Your Goods Packaged?
The first step to maximizing container space is determining how your product will be packaged before it is shipped. The first decision you’ll need to make is whether you will ship loose cargo or palletized goods.
Choosing the right pallet will maximize the storage space of your container, reduce transportation costs, and ensure the efficient handling of your goods from the point of origin to their destination. There are two factors that go into pallet selection: type and size.
The most widely used pallet types are Standard and Euro pallets.
A standard pallet is the larger of the two measuring 1 meter by 1.2 meters and comes in Full, Half, and Quarter sizes. The International Organization for Standardisation (ISO) sanctions six pallet dimensions, detailed in ISO 6780.
A Euro pallet measures .8 meters by 1.2 meters and is widely used in many industries. The European Pallet Association (EPAL) governs all the details of pallet manufacturing regulations down to the types of timber and nails used to make pallets. All manufacturers of EURO pallets must be sanctioned by EPAL. The EURO pallet is not a good option for ISO shipping containers and slightly wider containers are usually used for these types of pallets.
If you’re shipping loose cargo, it’s best to have your cargo palletized. Palletizing your cargo will ensure that your product stays safe and secure during transit. If your product is not palletized, the carrier may not accept your shipment because the freight will be at risk of being damaged during loading, unloading, or transit. If you don’t have the means to palletize your own cargo, we can recommend a trusted warehouse where you can have your goods palletized.
Full Container Load or Less than Container Load?
If you’re shipping multiple pallets (usually 8 or more) you’re better off shipping by Full Container Load (FCL) in either 20 or 40-foot containers. In FCL shipping, your freight gets its own dedicated container.
However, If you’re shipping one pallet or only a few, it’s best to ship by Less than Container Load (LCL). LCL shipping allows you to only pay for the volume that you need in your container and save you money by consolidating your cargo with other shippers in a 40-foot container.
If you’re losing money due to shipping too many loads that don’t fill a container or if you want to purchase goods from multiple suppliers, but they all require minimum orders that must fill a container, cargo consolidation is the answer to your problems.
Cargo consolidation occurs when cargo from one or more shippers is combined into one shipping container. Consolidation allows you to pay a bulk rate for shipping rather than shipping all of your items separately. Consolidation gives you more options, allows you to be more flexible in shipment planning, and can increase profitability.
For more information on consolidation head over to our article “How Consolidating Your Cargo at Origin Can Benefit Your Business”.
How Many Pallets Can You Fit in a Container?
The number of pallets you can fit into a container depends on the pallet type, how they are arranged, and the size of container you’re loading. Below you find a quick explanation on the pallet capacity of different containers and an image for your reference.
You can load 9 or 10 on one tier in a 20-foot container, depending on how they are arranged, and 20 or 21 pallets in one tier in a 40-foot container.
You can load 11 on one tier in a 20-foot container and a 40-foot container will hold 23 or 24, depending on how they are arranged.
Do you usually ship pallets or lose cargo? Have you been using the space in your container efficiently? Share your stories in the comments below!