What to Know About Open Top Shipping Containers

What to Know About Open Top Shipping Containers

image above open top container

Open top shipping containers are considered specialty units, but they serve a similar storage and transport purpose as standard shipping containers. The difference is that they are able to accommodate much larger items, usually those too large to be loaded into a standard sized shipping container.

Made from corrugated steel, the top of the container is open and is covered with a soft roof or tarp, secured with removable bows. You can swing the roof away in order to add contents to the shipping container. End doors offer additional flexibility for easier loading. Dimensions and sizes vary, but because they’re not restricted by a solid roof, they have a larger capacity.

What Are the Uses for Open Top Containers?

These containers are best when you need to load scrap metal and timber with the use of large cranes. The items can simply be dropped carefully down into the top of the container, then covered with the tarp. It makes it a lot easier to load and unload cargo this way. When fully loaded, the container may likely be over height, precipitating the need for a special storage area.

You can order an oversized tarp to further secure the height of the load, which are made to order and will increase the cost to you. Your shipping provider will need to know the dimension of your over height cargo so they can provide a suitable tarp for adequate coverage.

Lashing rings secure the load inside, keeping it safe and stable. Most open top containers are 40 feet long, but they also come in 20 foot sizes.

Open top containers can also be used to remove bulk recycling products or waste items. Once weighed, they are loaded into containers and placed on cargo ships for their journey.

Common items to store in an open top container include:

  • Raw mining materials
  • Pipes
  • Tools
  • Cable spools and cables
  • Construction supplies/debris
  • Machinery attachments
  • Tall, awkward or bulky cargo
  • Logs, scrap metal, machinery and oddly-shaped items

You may opt for an open top shipping container if you have items that are larger than what you could reasonably fit inside a standard container.

In addition to being ideal for storage of bulky or awkward goods, open top containers are also convenient when the primary material handling equipment you have access to on site involves cranes. Just like standard containers, open top containers come in both 20 foot and 40 foot configurations, depending on how much stuff you need to accommodate. There are also some high cube open top shipping containers on the market, but they are rare.

If you need a container with easier loading options, particularly with more space at the top, open top storage containers are a great idea.

Modified open top shipping containers do exist, and these are containers with open tops that have been made through the modification of a standard cargo container. It’s a lot more involved than simply cutting the roof off a traditional container, though. The container will then need additional structural support to make up for the fact that there’s no roof.

Modified open tops have a lower overall capacity, more restrictions on loading and handling, and next to no resale value. On the bright side, they are a bit more affordable than original factory built open top containers, and are more readily available in specific locations and at specific times. Plus, they’re easier to find special sizes, like 40ft high cube open tops for instance.

Common Features

Common features of the open top container include:

  • Convenient design perfect for handling heavy or awkward cargo
  • Option to load through the top thanks to the use of overhead lifting equipment, or via the door if the need arises
  • PVC tarpaulins have a removable rear header to protect cargo
  • Bow devices and attachable ceiling
  • Choice of hardwood or plywood floors
  • Securing points in the bottom side rail and on floor

When it comes to floor depth, either on a 20-foot or 40-foot shipping container, these measurements can vary slightly, especially between various ages and makes. Usually, though, the floor is a bit higher than that in a standard dry shipping container that has a solid roof. That’s because the floor needs to be extra strong to make up for lack of a traditional roofing system.

Contact Transocean Equipment Management

Thinking you may need an open top container for your needs? We can help match you with the right unit. Simply contact us at 910-483-7828 so we can give you a free quote and answer your questions about our many storage container options.


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