What is the weight of a shipping container?

As one of the most important pieces of logistics infrastructure, shipping containers can be found all around the world from manufacturing facilities to emergency relief sites-carrying anything from food to furniture. They are customisable, easily moved using a HIAB crane truck, but how much does a shipping container weigh? What is it’s capacity? Let’s explore.

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How Much Does A Container Weigh?

Shipping Container History

A shipping container or container, is a type of intermodal container used for transporting manufactured goods and was originally designed by Malcolm McLean in the year 1956. The container’s design incorporates various features which are an important consideration for shipping such as portability, protection from weather conditions and theft, loading and unloading. The container is one of the most widely used forms of transport in the world.

While container capacity and weight vary depending on container type, the largest are typically 40 ft by 8 ft (12 m × 2.4 m) and can carry a maximum load of about 20 tons or roughly 20,000 kg. Almost all container types come with standardised doors, container lashing, container handling gear and are recorded.

As one of the most important pieces of logistics infrastructure, shipping containers can be found all around the world from manufacturing facilities to emergency relief sites-carrying anything from food to furniture.

The container trade made up a significant part of Malcolm McLean’s business. Building on the idea of container transportation, he added container handling equipment to allow containerization to be fully integrated into intermodal transport. The container had become a major innovation in transport and represented enormous cost savings over breakbulk cargo. The rest, as they say, is history!

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How Much Does A Container Weigh?

Weight of Most popular sized containers

How much does an empty 20′ shipping container weigh?

A container with dimensions of 20 feet by 8 feet wide by 8.5 feet high will have a tare weight of 1.8-2.2 metric tonnes (about 3,970 – 4,850 lb)

How much does an empty 40′ shipping container weigh?

A container with dimensions of 40 feet by 8 feet wide by 8.5 feet high will have a tare weight of 3.8 – 4.2 tonne (8,340 – 9,260 lb)

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How Much Does A Container Weigh?

Full tare weight of containers summary

Below are approximate weights of equipment before considering cargo weight.

How much does a shipping container weigh?

20ft container dry = 4,800 lbs. (2,177kg)

20ft reefer = 6,600 lbs. (2,994kg)

20ft reefer w/clip-on genset and full fuel tank = 9,600 lbs. (4,355kg)

20ft dry = 4,800 lbs. (2,177kg)

40ft container standard dry = 8,400 lbs. (3,810kg)

40ft hi-cube dry = 8,900 lbs. (4,037kg)

40ft hi-cube reefer = 9,700 lbs. (4,400kg)

40ft reefer w/clip-on genset and full fuel tank:

At rail ITM ramp origin: 12,700 lbs. (5,761kg)

At rail ITM ramp destination for on-street movement: 12,300 lbs. (5,579kg)

Chassis

20ft 2-axle = 6,300 lbs. (2,858kg)

20ft 3-axle = 10,500 lbs. to 10,950 lbs. (4,763kg to 4,967kg)

40ft 2-axle = 6,800 lbs. (3,084kg)

40ft 2-axle chassis with underslung chassis-mount genset = 8,600 lbs. to 9,000 lbs. (3,901kg to 4,082kg)

40ft 3-axle = 10,800 lbs. (4,899kg)

45ft 2-axle = 7,700 lbs. (3,493kg) “extendables” can be heavier

Tractor

3-axle standard, no sleeper cab = 18,500 lbs. (8,392kg) average

3-axle road (sleeper cab) tractor = 19,000 lbs. to 21,000 lbs. (8,618k to 9,526kg) average

Gensets

Clip-on genset and its fuel (full tank) = 3,000 lbs. (1,361kg)

Recommended Maximum Gross allowable Cargo Weights

20’ Dry on slider chassis: 39,200 lbs. (17,780 kg)

20’ Dry on Tri axle slider chassis: 44,000 lbs. (19,960 kg) maximum outside California designated Overweight Corridors, i.e., Alameda Corridor in S. Calif., and Harbor Blvd/Maritime St. in Oakland

20’ RF on slider chassis: 34,900 lbs. (15,830 kg)

20’ RF on Tri axle slider chassis 39,700 lbs. (18,010 kg) maximum outside California Overweight Corridors when moving with a clip-on genset

40’ Dry on standard chassis 44,000 lbs. (19,960 kg)

40’ Hi-cube on standard chassis 43,700 lbs. (19,820 kg)

40’ RF on standard chassis 39,800 lbs. (18,050 kg) with a clip-on genset

40’ RF Hi-cube on standard chassis 39,300 lbs. (17,830 kg) with a clip-on genset

Maximum axle weights allowed when gross weight allowed is limited to 80,000 lbs. (36,287 kg) per 5-axle rig are:

12,000 lbs. (5,443 kg) front axle (tractor steer axle)

34,000 lbs. (15,422 kg) middle tandems (tractor drive axles)

34,000 lbs. (15,422 kg) rear tandems

What is tare weight?

Tare weight, sometimes called unladen weight, is the weight of an empty vehicle or container. It is common to determine the weight of goods the tare weight from the gross weight. However, this method can be inaccurate when calculating the weight of an entire truck as other variables, such as fuel, come into play.

What are the external container dimensions?

Standard shipping containers (ISO containers) are 20ft and 40ft in length and occasionally 10ft, 30ft and 45ft. Non-ISO containers are also available, usually 10ft, 8ft and 6ft. Many companies can supply ‘cut-down’ containers which are containers formed by reducing the length of larger containers; these can come in almost any size with 10ft, 12ft, 16ft, 24ft and 30ft being the most usual. Cut-down’s are suitable for storage.

The most common height of a standard shipping container is 8ft 6ins though 9ft 6ins high containers (hi-cubes) are becoming increasingly common.

The standard width of a shipping container is 8ft but some pallet-wide containers are slightly wider.

Shipping Containers Weight Conclusion

Shipping container weight varies depending on the size. Shipping containers are also versatile and durable pieces of transport equipment that come in different sizes to suit your needs! If you’re looking for more information or would like someone to help you with logistics planning, don’t hesitate to contact Phelan Haulage today!

We’ll be happy to provide an expert opinion free of charge so we can find out what shipping container is best for you.

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