Container Design

Steel shipping containers are all much of a muchness – sturdy boxes designed to transport and store every possible type of freight.

There are, of course, containers for different purposes, like those for dry freight or storage, and reefers that are manufactured specifically for the storage and transportation of refrigerated goods. There are also specialised containers that are intended for shipping unconventional or oversized cargo.

But container design takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to conversion products. Today, storage containers are not only used to transport and store goods, they are also used in the construction industry to form a basic shell for houses and apartments, and for on-site facilities, as well as to provide sleeping and office accommodation, conference or training rooms, and clinics and medical facilities in remote areas.

Essential Container Design

All containers must be designed and manufactured according to very specific international standards set by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

General purpose (GP) dry-freight containers are most commonly used for conversion purposes, and they must be manufactured and tested according to ISO 1496-1 : 1990 (E), Series 1 freight containers – Specification and testing – Part 1: General cargo containers for general purposes. The scope of this standard covers GP containers that are totally enclosed and suitable for international conveyance by sea, road, or rail. They may be:

  • Closed
  • Vented
  • Ventilated
  • Open-topped

The standard specifies the internal and external dimensions of GP containers as well as the relevant tolerances. There are also specifications for corner fittings, the structure of the base of each unit, as well as end structure, side structure, walls, and door openings.

General container design requirements state that containers must be capable of fulfilling certain requirements, including:

  • Strength
  • Loads and loadings
  • Securing systems for any closure in the containers, particularly doors
  • Locking devices for roofs
  • Weatherproof covers if relevant

Testing procedures are also detailed in ISO 1496-1 : 1990 (E) including a test for stacking a fully loaded container, lifting a container from the four top corner fittings, and another for lifting a container from the four bottom corner fittings. There are also procedures for a further 10 tests, to test longitudinal restraint, the strength of the end walls, side walls, and strength of the roof, as well as floor strength, transverse and longitudinal rigidity, “weatherproofness”, and for lifting from fork-lift pockets and from the base at grappler arm positions where these are fitted.

These strict design requirements ensure that containers are strong, secure, and long lasting, making them ideal, not only for transportation and storage purposes but for container conversions as well.

Shipping Container Design and Architecture

The use of steel dry freight GP shipping containers for architectural structures is as varied as the types of cargo they may be used for. They have been used for bespoke shops, offices, and designer homes. Ingenious designers have turned single units into reception areas, booths for parking attendants, coffee shops, hairdressing salons, and getaway retreats. More challenging designs incorporate multiple containers that are sometimes stacked or angled to create living or office space.

A Canadian company has caused a stir by repurposing used containers for hot tubs and swimming pools! These may be installed either below or above the ground.

Almar Containers

Almar offers the full range of container solutions for storage and transportation, including reefers and specialized containers. We also supply plug and play container solutions for workshops, clinics, accommodation, offices, ablution blocks, and training rooms that we often supply to remote regions in Southern and East Africa as well as the Middle East.

All our containers meet ISO specifications, and those we convert are handled by our in-house engineering team and container design experts. How can we help you?

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