SHIPPING CONTAINERS WEB BRINGS YOU THE INDUSTRY JARGON BUSTING LIST
Despite one of the principal aims of containerisation being to standardise the way in which cargo is stored, handled and
shipped, there has never been commonality of the terms used in the container industry. The most basic of containers
are variously called dry cargo, dry van, general purpose or simply a box. The following is a non-exhaustive listing of
some of the jargon used in the container industry. Where terms are used synonymously, we refer to an alternative
entry. We list common abbreviations where appropriate.
Bolster - see Platform Flat
Box (BX) - see Dry Cargo
Bulk or Bulker (BK) - a container specifically designed to carry dry cargo without the need for intermediate packaging.
Foodstuffs such as wheat or rice, chemicals or coal are typical cargoes. For sensitive material, an inner liner may be
used between the cargo and the container wall.
CCU - short for Cargo Carrying Unit is jargon used in the offshore industry to refer to what is known in the marine
industry as containers.
Clip On - a generator (see Gen Set) that fits externally on the front wall of a temperature controlled container. Two
types of fittings are common - the pin type which engages in the top rail of the container and Twist Lock type which fits
into the front face of the upper Corner Castings.
Collapsible Flat (FC) - a Flat Rack with end frames that are hinged such that they can be folded for empty shipment.
With the end frames folded, 3-9 units (depending upon design) can be stacked into the same cube as one unit with the
ends erected. The end frames may be Flush Folding. (see separate entry).
Conex - see Dry Cargo. This term is common in the US military.
Corner Casting - the steel fitting, normally located at the eight extremities of the container, which allows a container to
be lifted or secured to a vehicle.
CSC - the Container Safety Convention is the more common name for the International Convention for Safe Containers
1972, a United Nations mandated set of regulations which stipulate container sizes and capacities, markings and
minimum standards of safety, quality and testing. CSC regulations have been revised and amended a number of times
over the years since its introduction.
CSC Plate - an aluminium plate, normally fixed to outside of one of the rear doors, on which statutory information about
the container is recorded. For Flat Racks and other units without doors, the plate is normally fitted to the rear bottom
Curtain Side (CS) - a container with the floor, roof and ends of a Dry Cargo unit but with side access. Access is
through a removable tarpaulin which covers a steel framework. Timber slats are often fitted which help restrain cargo
movement. It is common to be able to load cargo through either side.
DNV - Det Norske Veritas is a charity which is a global provider of services for managing risk. It is an independent
foundation with the objective of safeguarding life, property and the environment. One of its range of services is providing
specifications for the design, construction and inspection of cargo carrying units (containers) for use in the offshore oil,
gas and wind farm industries. A “DNV” unit is an offshore container which complies with standards set be the
Dry Cargo (DC) - the standard shipping container for dry goods. It comes in various sizes and, in its basic form, has a
single pair of doors to one end. It is made of steel with a plywood or solid timber floor. (New flooring materials are being
Dry Van (DV) - see Dry Cargo
FEU - Forty feet Equivalent Unit (see also TEU). This term, most commonly used in North America, is for quantifying
containers particularly where different size lengths are involved. One 20ft container equals half an FEU.
Flat - a range of specialised containers principally used for carrying out of gauge or difficult to handle cargoes.
Flat Rack (FR) - a Platform Flat fitted with end frames. The frames may be either Fixed or Folding (see separate entry).
The end frames can be either solid, with panels filling the end frames, or open to allow for over length cargo to be
carried. If a single open end is used, it is the end farthest from the Goose Neck Tunnel.
Flush Folding (FF) - a Flat Rack with folding end frames that secure within the cargo deck of the container. Such units
can be used as Platform Flats when the end frames are in the horizontal position.
General Purpose (GP) - see Dry Cargo
Gen Set (G/S) - a removable generator that is specifically designed to provide electrical power for Reefer containers.
Gen Sets come in a number of types see Clip On, Integral and Undermount.
Goose Neck Tunnel - an aperture on the underside of 40ft and longer containers which allows them to be carried on
certain types of chassis. The tunnel is formed by leaving a space between the cross bearers in the under frame at the
front of the container. Such chassis are common in North America and Scandinavia.
Half Height (HH) - a container either 4' or 4'3" high. If, as is normal, the units are Open Tops, they may have tarpaulins
High Cube (HC) - a container that is 9'6" (2.89m) high.
Integral - a Gen Set which fits flush within the ISO cube of a Reefer container.
ISO - the acronym for International Organization for Standards, or International Standards Organisation as it is more
commonly known. The ISO sets the basic standards to which containers have to be built. With some operators,
particularly military units, they refer to “ISOs” as meaning standard shipping containers in the same way as a “conex”
refers to containers in US military parlance.
Nose Mount - see Clip ON.
Open Side (OS) - see Curtain Side. Some open side units are not fitted with tarpaulins but have a steel mesh frame to
help prevent unauthorised access and/or cargo restraint.
Pallet Wide (PW) - a type of container designed specifically for carrying palletised cargo. Standard ISO containers at
8' or 2.4m external width do not efficiently load standard cargo pallets with dimensions of 1,200 x 1,000mm or 1,200 x
800mm or 1,165mm square (as used in Australia). Pallet Wide containers may be full ISO units, interchangeable with
all forms of transport, or they may be non-ISO units built for a specific market.
Platform Flat - a container consisting solely of the base frame of an ISO container. Units may have proprietary fittings
enabling a number of units to be secured together when stacked. Floors are made of wood or steel sheeting.
Port Hole - a type of Reefer container which has no machinery itself and relies upon external equipment to provide a
flow of temperature controlled air. Two apertures on the front wall of the insulated container allow cooled or heated air to
be fed and recycled. These circular hatches resemble port holes, hence the jargon.
Reefer - an abbreviation of refrigerated referring to temperature controlled containers. The term is somewhat misleading
as Reefer containers are normally capable of providing a cargo temperature range of at least -25c to +25c.
Side Curtain (SC) - see Curtain Side.
Swap Body - a container which may not be to ISO dimensions and may not be stackable to the same tolerances as
ISO shipping containers. Such units may have demounting legs which allow them to stand off the ground when the
chassis/truck is removed.
Tank (TK) - a container specifically used for the carriage of liquid or dry cargo in bulk. Milk, orange juice, petroleum
products and chemicals are typical cargoes. Tank containers can be refrigerated and/or heated depending upon product
Tarp - short for tarpaulin, the flexible vinyl covering used for the roofs of Open Top containers or the sides of Curtain
TEU - Twenty feet Equivalent Unit. This is the most common term for quantifying containers particularly where different
size lengths are involved. One 40ft container equals 2 TEU. Container ship sizes are defined in TEU.
Tilt - another term for tarp
Twist Lock - a device for securing containers to lifting equipment or vehicles by engaging a rotating pin into one face of
a container's Corner Casting.
Undermount - a Gen Set that is installed on the chassis carrying Reefer containers.
Underslung - see Undermount.