Flat Rack Containers are a type of specialized containers having walls only at the short end of the container. This is why these containers are employed when the cargo needs to be loaded from the top or sides due to different dimensions or abnormal loads.

They are majorly used for shipping heavy or bulky cargo such as machinery, timber, pipes, buses, boats, etc. – which don’t fit inside standard containers and stick out through open sides.

Here’s everything you need to know about these versatile containers.

Know the Flat Rack

Flat rack containers come in the standard 20ft or 40ft sizes. They are manufactured from steel with softwood flooring. A go-to choice for freight forwarders, flat racks are great for transporting heavy cargo which is difficult to load from the front gate.

These containers have numerous lashing rings fixed in the side rails, floor, and corners of the container — with a high load capacity of up to 2,000kg (for 20ft) and up to 4,000kg (for 40ft). Some containers even come with lashing winches, latching belts, and stanchions providing added support and security for the cargo.

Most of the flat rack containers have forklift pockets. Some 40ft containers also come with gooseneck tunnels at both the ends for easy and safe transportation. It comes in 2 variants:

  • Non-collapsible Flat Rack – It has fixed walls at both short ends giving it a stronger construction and a higher top load.
  • Collapsible Flat Rack – It has collapsible walls, which makes it easier to store and transport.

When empty, flat racks can be stacked atop each other (like a rack; thus, the name) or shipped sideways in another ISO container — making them space-saving as well as easily transportable. Fun Fact: 4 collapsible flat racks, when stacked, take up space of just 1 standard container.

This is how they look:

flat rack container

Flat Rack Container. photo from https://www.hapag-lloyd.com/

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Flat Rack Containers: Dimensions

Most of the containers are manufactured according to standard sizes set by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), however, some might vary depending on the manufacturer and container age.

Flat Rack (FR) Containers can either be collapsible or non-collapsible, with or without walls. But their measurements remain similar, more or less.

Measurement 20ft FR 40ft FR
Internal length 5.94 m / 19.5 ft 12.13 m / 39.8 ft
Internal width 2.35 m / 7.7 ft 2.40 m / 7.9 ft
Internal height 2.35 m / 7.7 ft 2.14 m / 7 ft
Tare weight 2,360 kg / 5,203.8 lbs 5,000 kg / 11,025 lbs
Payload capacity 30,140 kg / 66,458.7 lbs 40,000 kg / 88,200 lbs
Cubic capacity 32.7 m3 / 1,154.3 cu ft 62.2 m3 / 2,195.7 cu ft

In terms of volume, how much can you fit in a flat rack container?

Because there are no side walls or top wall in flat rack containers, we can’t limit the capacity of these containers. Flat racks are used to ship oversized cargo, like breakbulk cargo, construction equipment, cranes, pipes, windmills, automobiles, steel, glass, sugarcane, etc.

So, feel free to load these beasts with any cargo with unique dimensions that require special storage (according to containers’ weight capacity).

Trading Flat Racks

Flat Rack Containers are one of the most versatile containers in shipping and transportation, forming an essential part of other industries like coal, mining, construction, oil, etc. due to its specialized structure and easy transportation.

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