Custom containers include not only containers of non-standard dimensions but also containers rebuilt into houses, shops, garbage bins, and so on. By containers, we mean those large 20'x8'x8' and larger boxes used to transport everything from heavy machinery to thousands cartons of trinkets (in each box).
These containers are used extensively in international trade as they can be packed and custom sealed at the factory and then transported by truck, railcar and ship (or aircraft) to distant locations without being opened till they reach their destinations. The standardized dimensions and specialized handling equipment make it easy to transfer the containers from trucks to railcars to ships and in the reverse direction. With containers, the efficiency of transport logistics improves dramatically.
While transporting containers filled with merchandise is an economic proposition, transporting empty containers is not. Containers that come in are re-used to ship merchandise out from their original destinations. Where this is not possible because of unbalanced trade, empty containers tend to accumulate at high import destinations.
These empty containers cause problems, and hence the urgency to convert them into other uses. Let us look at some of these rebuilt custom containers.
A 20 feet long, 8 feet wide and 8 feet high container can accommodate a 9'x6' living room, an adequate bed that folds into the wall when not needed, several chairs that also can be folded into the wall, a counter, small kitchen unit and toilet. It would be cramped of course, but can provide living quarters at worksites. A 45'x8'x9.5' container is another standard size. It can accommodate more spacious rooms and facilities.
The containers can be fitted up inside to protect from outside heat and create pleasing interiors, and doors and windows can be cut to suit the overall design. With solar power, it can even move around with continuous power supply.
Instead of living quarters, the design can be adapted for creating mobile shops, eating-places, or other kinds of accommodation. More than one level can be built by stacking containers over one another, or by going for smaller levels.
The container walls and roof can be stripped out (and recycled) leaving the four corner reinforcements intact on the floor plate. With a little modification, these can then be converted into flat racks suitable for different uses. For example, fit them with wheels and they can be moved along tracks. Cargo can be fitted inside easily, and lifting and loading are also made easier.
Several numbers of these racks can be stacked while transporting empty, saving space and cost.
Another custom container is the garbage container. The empty containers lying around wasting space can be converted into excellent garbage containers that can be transported in container trucks, and handled with standard container handling equipment. Garbage can be packed tightly inside, and removed by opening one end that constitutes the door.
Open Top Containers
Loading certain kinds of cargo, such as heavy machinery, is easier into open top containers. With the top open, such items can be lifted by crane and placed into the container. This is much easier than trying to load them the conventional way.
The above examples will give an idea of the versatile applications possible with standard containers. Then there are tank containers for liquid cargo, refrigerated containers, ventilated containers for organic produce, smaller containers for air cargo and so on to fit numerous custom container requirements.