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An '''intermodal container''' is a large standardized shipping container+, designed and built for intermodal freight transport+, meaning these containers can be used across different modes of transport+ – from ship+ to rail to truck+ – without unloading and reloading their cargo.
Intermodal containers exist in many types and a number of standardized sizes, but ninety percent of the global container fleet are so-called ''"dry freight"'' or ''"general purpose"'' containers, durable+ closed steel+ boxes, mostly of either twenty or forty foot (6 or 12m) standard length.
Just like cardboard box+es and pallet+s, these containers are a means to bundle cargo and goods into larger, unitized loads+, that can be easily handled, moved, and stacked, and that will pack tightly in a ship or yard.
By the 1830s, railways on several continents were carrying containers that could be transferred to other modes of transport.
In April 1951 at Zurich Tiefenbrunnen railway station+ the Swiss Museum of Transport and the ''Bureau International des Containers'' (BIC) held demonstrations of container systems for representatives from a number of European countries, and from the United States. The use of standardized steel shipping container+s began during the late 1940s and early 1950s, when commercial shipping operators and the US military started developing such units. From 1949 onwards, engineer Keith Tantlinger+ repeatedly contributed to the development of containers, as well as their handling and transportation equipment.
In 1955 trucking magnate Malcom McLean+ bought Pan-Atlantic Steamship Company+, to form a container shipping enterprise, later known as Sea-Land+. Two years after McLean's first container ship, the ''Ideal X''+ started container shipping on the U.S.
ISO standards for containers were published between 1968 and 1970 by the International Maritime Organization.
The International Convention for Safe Containers is a 1972 regulation by the Inter-governmental Maritime Consultative Organization+ on the safe handling and transport of containers. Longshoremen and related unions around the world struggled with this revolution in shipping goods.
Ninety percent of the global container fleet consists of ''"dry freight"'' or ''"general purpose"'' containers – both of standard and special sizes. Standard containers are wide by high, although the taller "High Cube" or "hi-cube" units measuring have become very common in recent years. Container capacity is often expressed in twenty-foot equivalent unit+s ('''TEU''', or sometimes ''teu''). Manufacturing prices for regular, dry freight containers are typically in the range of $1750—$2000 U.S. Forty foot or longer containers typically have a ''gooseneck tunnel'', an indentation in the floor structure, that meshes with the gooseneck on dedicated container semi-trailers+. Twenty foot containers on the other hand, frequently have forklift pockets, accessible from the sides (last picture). Other than the standard, general purpose container, many variations exist for use with different cargoes. Although these variations are not of the standard ''type'', they mostly are ''ISO standard'' containers – in fact the ISO 6346+ standard classifies a broad spectrum of container types in great detail. A multitude of equipment, such as generators, has been installed in containers of different types to simplify logistics – see containerized equipment+ for more details.
Swap body+ units usually have the same bottom corner fixtures as intermodal containers, and often have folding legs under their frame so that they can be moved between trucks without using a crane.
Weights and dimensions of the most common ''standardized '' types of containers are given below. The coupling holes are all female and it takes a double male twist lock to securely mate stacked containers together.
Especially the pallet-wide high-cube shortsea container has gained wider acceptance, as these containers can replace the swap bodies that are common for truck transport in Europe.
Australian RACE+ containers are also slightly wider to optimise them for the use of Australia Standard Pallets+.
Generally, North American 53-foot containers were not constructed strongly enough to endure the rigors of ocean transport, but in 2007 container carrier APL+ introduced the first 53-foot ocean-capable containers. Within Canada, Oceanex+ offers 53-foot-container ocean service to and from the island of Newfoundland. The United States military continues to use small containers, strongly reminiscent of their Transporter and Conex boxes of the 1950s and 1960s. At a nominal length of , two Bicons coupled together ''lengthwise'' match one 20-foot ISO container, but their height is shy of the more commonly available 10-foot ISO containers of so-called ''standard'' height, which are tall. Each container is allocated a standardized ISO 6346+ reporting mark+ (ownership code), four letters long ending in either U, J or Z, followed by six digits and a check digit.
The placement and registration of BIC Codes is standardized by the commissions TC104 and TC122 in the JTC1 of the ISO which are dominated by shipping companies.
Following the extended usage of pallet-wide containers in Europe the EU had started the Intermodal Loading Unit (ILU) initiative. Containers are transferred between rail, truck and ship by container crane+s at container terminal+s. ISO-standard containers can be handled and lifted in a variety of ways by their corner fixtures, but the structure and strength of 45-foot (type E) containers limits their tolerance of side-lifting, nor can they be forklifted, based on ISO 3874 (1997). Containers can be transported by container ship+, truck and freight train+s as part of a single journey without unpacking. About 90% of non-bulk cargo worldwide is transported by container, and the largest container ships can carry over 19,000 TEU. There are many established methods and materials available to stabilize and secure intermodal containers loaded on ships, as well as the internal cargo inside the boxes. Intermodal containers can be the target of break-ins and burglary when left unattended since they often contain valuables. Motion detectors can be used as a security method (although items that were packed incorrectly may come loose and cause a false response from motion detectors).
Container-sized units are also often used for moving large pieces of equipment to temporary sites.
Complete water treatment systems can be installed in containers and shipped around the world. Electric generators can be permanently installed in containers to be used for portable power.
Containers have long been used for other purposes, typically but not always at the end of their voyaging lives.

Shipping container architecture+ employs used shipping containers as the main framing of modular home designs, where the steel may be an integrated part of the design, or be camouflaged into a traditional looking home. Intermodal containers are not strong enough for conversion to underground bunkers, as the walls cannot sustain much lateral pressure, and will collapse.
Intermodal container+ An intermodal container is a large standardized shipping container, designed and built for intermodal freight transport, meaning these containers can be used across different modes of transport – from ship to rail to truck – without unloading and reloading their cargo.
Intermodal containers are primarily used to store and transport materials and products efficiently and securely in the global containerized+ intermodal freight transport system, but smaller numbers are in regional use as well.
The common heights are and – the latter are known as '''''High Cube''''' or '''''Hi-Cube''''' containers. Intermodal containers share a number of key construction features to withstand the stresses of intermodal shipping, to facilitate their handling and to allow stacking, as well as being identifiable through their individual, unique ISO 6346+ reporting mark. Containers have largely supplanted the traditional break bulk cargo+ – in 2010 containers accounted for 60% of the world's seaborne trade.
American containers at this time were not standardized, and these early containers were not yet stackable – neither in the U.S. A system was selected for Western Europe, based on the Netherlands' system for consumer goods and waste transportation called ''Laadkisten'' (lit.
The first containers were supplied by Brown, where McLean met Keith Tantlinger+, and hired him as vice-president of engineering and research. These standards allow for more consistent loading, transporting, and unloading of goods in ports throughout the world, thus saving time and resources. It decrees that every container travelling internationally be fitted with a CSC Safety-approval Plate. For example, by 1971 a clause in the International Longshoremen's Association+ (ILA) contract stipulated that the work of "stuffing" (filling) or "stripping" (emptying) a container within 50 miles of a port must be done by ILA workers or if not done by ILA that the shipper needed to pay royalties and penalties to the ILA. By the end of 2013, high-cube 40 ft containers represented almost 50% of the world's maritime container fleet, according to Drewry's Container Census report. ISO containers have castings with openings for twistlock+ fasteners at each of the eight corners, to allow gripping the box from above, below, or the side, and they can be stacked up to ten units high. A twenty-foot equivalent unit is a measure of containerized cargo capacity equal to one standard long container. Moreover, in 2014 for the first time in history 40-foot High cube containers accounted for the majority of boxes in service, measured in TEU.
The gooseneck tunnel is clearly visible in the underside of a toppled-over container (first picture), as well as in a container's interior, where it takes the space otherwise covered by wood flooring.
Containerized coal carriers and "bin-liners" (containers designed for the efficient road and rail transportation of rubbish from cities to recycling and dump sites) are used in Europe. However they frequently don't have the upper corner fittings of ISO containers, and are not stackable, nor can they be lifted and handled by the usual equipment like reach-stackers or straddle-carriers. Values vary slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer, but must stay within the tolerances dictated by the standards. These containers typically have an internal width of , to be able to load either two or three of the long by wide pallets side by side. All new, reinforced 53-foot boxes were built specifically for international trade and designed to withstand ocean voyages on its South-China to Los Angeles service. Fifty-three-foot containers are also being used on some Asia Pacific international shipping routes.
Tricons and Quadcons however have to be coupled ''transversely'' – either three or four in a row – to be stackable with twenty foot containers. The ownership code for intermodal containers is issued by the ''Bureau International des Containers+'' (International container bureau, abbr. Shipping container+s are labelled with a series of identification codes that includes the manufacturer code, the ownership code, usage classification code, UN placard for hazardous goods and reference codes for additional transport control and security. Forklift+s, reach stacker+s, straddle carrier+s, and cranes+ may be used to load and unload trucks or trains outside of container terminals. Units can be secured in transit using "twistlock+" points located at each corner of the container.
The latter are specially designed for container transport, and can accommodate double-stacked containers+. Each year an estimated 10,000 shipping containers fall into the sea; of these 10% are expected to contain chemicals toxic to marine life.
However transporting containers in this way is typically avoided due to the cost of doing such and the lack of availability of planes which can accommodate such awkwardly sized cargo. Conventional restraint methods and materials such as steel strapping+ and wood blocking and bracing have been around for decades and are still widely used. In these cases, a security system consisting of a motion detector and panel can trigger a siren, strobe, or light to deter intruders. However, many break-ins occur by criminals cutting through a wall of the container, so the obstructed sensor becomes useless. Specialised containers are particularly attractive to militaries already using containerisation to move much of their freight around. US military often used their Conex containers as on-site storage, or easily transportable housing for command staff and medical clinics. Also, the wooden floor of many used containers could contain some fumigation residues, rendering them unsuitable as confined spaces, such as for prison cells or bunkers.
Container terminal+ A container terminal is a facility where cargo containers are transshipped between different transport vehicles, for onward transportation. These containers are known under a number of names, such as simply '''container''', '''cargo''' or '''freight''' container, '''ISO''' container, '''shipping, sea''' or '''ocean''' container, '''container van''' or '''(Conex) box''', '''sea''' or '''c can'''.
The predominant alternative methods of transport carry bulk cargo+ – either gaseous, liquid or solid – e.g.
Army+ Transportation Corps+ developed the "Transporter", a rigid, corrugated steel container, able to carry . Under the supervision of Tantlinger, a new x x Sea-Land container was developed, the length determined by the maximum length of trailers then allowed on Pennsylvanian highways. Just like Pan-Atlantic+'s containers, Matson's were wide and high, but due to California's different traffic code, Matson chose to make theirs long.

This holds essential information about the container, including age, registration number, dimensions and weights, as well as its strength and maximum stacking capability.
Unions for truckers and consolidators argued that the ILA rules were not valid work preservation clauses because the work of stuffing and stripping containers away from the pier had not traditionally been done by ILA members. Although corrugating the sheet metal+ used for the sides and roof contributes significantly to the container's rigidity and stacking strength, just like in corrugated iron+ or in cardboard boxes+, the corrugated sides cause aerodynamic drag, and up to 10% fuel economy loss in road or rail transport, compared to smooth-sided vans. The average age of the global container fleet was a little over 5 years from end 1994 to end 2009, meaning containers remain in shipping use for well over 10 years. Gooseneck container trailer showing twistlock couplings for forty-foot boxes at its four corners. Empty weight (''tare weight+'') is not determined by the standards, but by the container's construction, and is therefore indicative, but necessary to calculate a net load figure, by subtracting it from the maximum permitted gross weight.
Many sea shipping providers in Europe allow these as overhangs on standard containers are sufficient and they fit in the usual interlock spaces (or with the same floor panel the side ribs of pallet-wide containers are embossed to the outside instead of being molded to the inside). In 2013 however, APL stopped offering vessel space for 53-foot containers on its trans-Pacific ships.
Their ''length'' of corresponds to the ''width'' of a standard 20-foot container, which is why there are forklift pockets at their ends, as well as in the sides of these boxes, and the doors only have one locking bar each. This led to the introduction of '''ILU-Codes''' defined by the standard EN 13044 which has the same format as the earlier BIC-Codes. Swap body+s, sidelifter+s, tilt deck trucks and hook trucks+ allow transfer to and from trucks with no extra equipment.
Every container has a unique BIC code+ painted on the outside for identification and tracking, and is capable of carrying up to 20–25 metric tons+. However the loading gauge+ of a rail system may restrict the modes and types of container shipment.
Many panels have wireless communication so that security guards can be alerted if an alarm is triggered. Tomographic motion detectors+ work well in intermodal containers because they do not require a line of sight to detect motion. Shipment of specialized equipment in this way simplifies logistics and may prevent identification of high value equipment by enemies.
Nearly all of over 150,000 Conex containers shipped to Vietnam remained in country, primarily as storage or other mobile facilities. Cleaning or replacing the wood floor can make these used containers habitable, with proper attention to such essential issues as ventilation and insulation.
Construction of these containers had a steel frame with wooden walls, floor, roof and doors. In November 1932, the first container terminal in the world was opened by the Pennsylvania Rail Road Company in Enola, PA.
It was long, wide, and high, with double doors on one end, was mounted on skids, and had lifting rings on the top four corners. In 1968, McLean began container service to South Vietnam for the US military with great success. For example, the tall high-cube, as well as half-height containers are equally counted as one TEU. And tanks in a frame, for bulk liquids, account for another 0.75% of the global container fleet.
Nevertheless, In 2015 both Crowley+ and TOTE Maritime each announced the construction of their respective second combined container and RoRo+ ships for Puerto Rico trade, with the specific design to maximize cubic cargo capacity by carrying 53-foot, 102-inch-wide containers. The International Container Office BIC agreed to only issue ownership codes ending with U, J or Z. The smaller loading gauges often found in European railroads will only accommodate single-stacked containers. The entire container is covered by a volumetric sensing mesh that is not blocked by equipment or inventory. Such systems may include command and control facilities, mobile operating theatres or even missile launchers (such as the Russian 3M-54 Klub+ surface-to-surface missile). The development of containerization was created in Europe and the US as a way to revitalize rail companies after the Wall Street Crash of 1929+, in New York, and resulting economic collapse and drop in all modes of transport. After proving successful in Korea, the Transporter was developed into the Container Express (CONEX) box system in late 1952. Tantlinger also designed automatic spreaders+ for handling the containers, as well as the twistlock+ mechanism that connects with the corner castings. Similarly, extra long containers are commonly designated as two TEU, no different than standard long units.
These large boxes have 60% more capacity than standard-height containers, enabling shippers to consolidate more cargo into fewer containers.
The new allocation office of the UIRR (International Union of Combined Road-Rail Transport Companies) agreed to only issue ownership reporting marks for swap bodies ending with A, B, C, D or K – companies having a BIC-Code ending with U can allocate an ILU-Code ending with K having the same preceding letters.
In some countries, such as the United Kingdom, there are sections of the rail network through which high-cube containers cannot pass, or can pass through only on well cars. Tomographic motion detection is not prone to misdetection due to dirt buildup as is the case for beams and infrared sensors. Since July 2011 the new ILU codes can be registered, beginning with July 2014 all intermodal ISO containers and intermodal swap bodies must have an ownership code and by July 2019 all of them must bear a standard-conforming placard.
On the other hand, Indian Railways+ runs double-stacked containers on flatcar+s under 25 kV+ overhead electrical wires+.
In order to do this, the wire must be at least above the track+, but IR is able to do so because of its large loading gauge and the extra stability provided by its track. Rijsenbrij: (page 8) CONEXes could be stacked three high, and protected their contents from the elements.
China Railways+ also runs double-stacked containers under overhead wires, but must use well car+s to do so, since the wires are only above the track and (standard gauge+) does not provide adequate stability to run double-stacked containers on flat cars.

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