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What size cargo unit do I need?

Cargo units are used to transport goods all around the world. They are sturdy, durable, and provide a reliable way to transport items safely to your chosen destination. There are several different types available in a range of styles and sizes. The most common in circulation range from 10ft to 40ft and are typically used to transport dry goods. It is crucial that you carefully consider the volume of goods you’re transporting to determine the size needed to accommodate them. If you purchase goods and later realise they are slightly over capacity, you will need to pay for a larger size, which may incur a large, unnecessary cost. Fortunately, you can easily avoid this by doing your research and selecting the application that will best suit your requirements. With this in mind, below is a useful guide to picking a unit of the correct size.

How much can I fit in a 10ft unit? 

10ft is an excellent option if you have a small volume of goods to transport and don’t require the space offered by a 20ft or 40ft unit. It is important to note that some sea freight companies will only accept standard 20ft and 40ft sizes, as this makes stacking them safer and less difficult. For that reason, 10ft may not be suitable if you’re transporting goods by sea, although it can be a great choice if you’re shipping overland. These products usually have around 72 square foot of floor space and are around 7ft 10” high, although you can opt for a high cube range that you will give you an extra foot of height. To give you an idea, 10ft can usually pack the contents of a small one‐bedroom flat or 2‐3 bedrooms.

How much can I fit in the 20ft option?

At 20ft (length) they can typically fit approximately 25‐28cbm worth of goods inside. In terms of how much you can fit in a unit, they can usually accommodate 8 large pallets or 16 small pallets. However, it’s important to be aware that this largely depends on the type of goods you’re transporting. For example, some items can’t be stacked and some boxes are too large to fit efficiently and maximise the available space. You should also keep in mind that you will be charged a heavyweight surcharge if your storage box weighs more than 15,000kg. 

How much can I fit in a 40ft model?

Generally, at 40ft you can usually fit around 54‐58cbm worth of goods inside i.e. 16 large pallets or 32 small pallets. Again, this is massively dependent on the nature of the goods. Large boxes are likely to result in lots of unusable space, which may significantly reduce the volume of goods you can fit inside. Unlike 20ft models, you will not incur a heavyweight surcharge when you choose the 40ft option. This makes it ideal when transporting heavy goods. There are also 40ft high cube versions, which are considered the most space‐efficient on the market. Naturally, a 40ft high cube is slightly higher (27cm) than the original 40ft unit. While this may not seem significant, the additional space allows you to fit a total extra volume of 9cbm, therefore maximising the number of goods you can transport. 

Other Types Available

The above describes the standard and most commonly used models. However, if you require something different, there are several different types available, these include:

  • Open top ‐ These are ideal when transporting large or tall items as the top can be removed to provide extra flexibility when packing goods.
  • Side opening ‐ These containers open fully on their longest side which makes them easier to load and especially useful for exhibiting items.
  • Tunnel ‐ Also referred to as the ‘double door container’, these provide easy access from the front and rear which helps make the loading process more efficient. It also means that goods can be accessed quickly. 

Final Thoughts 

Cargo units provide a secure, reliable, and affordable way to transport your goods. As we’ve explained, there are a wide variety available on the market, in several different sizes and styles. As a result, we suggest you take the time to do your research and choose a unit that is most appropriate for your individual needs and requirements. If you’re still unsure which to choose, contact your local specialists for professional advice. 

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