Flat Rack Container: Size, Dimension, and other Specifications Explained

Flat rack containers are one of the container types designed to give storage unit solutions to cater to the shipper’s storage and transportation needs.

Shipping containers have been there with us for decades helping us in ways we never think of. Malcolm McLean came up with the “big box” idea in 1937 while waiting for an approximately whole day to deliver cotton bales to a harbor in New Jersey.

Earlier to this, transporting goods was a difficult and huge task. Malcolm’s invention changed the way people shipped their goods. Since then the shipping containers have seen many modifications to make humans’ life better and comfortable. Now the shippers can send their cargo to distant places without worrying about them getting damaged. The shipping boxes provide resistance from weather, dust, rain, wind, and other such elements. They are used for various purposes like providing storage solutions and catering to shipping needs. Nowadays they are flamboyantly being used for furnishing purposes like home modification, personal spaces, swimming pools, public toilets, emergency hospitals, and many others.

Different types of shipping boxes cater to the shipping unit needs of the shippers. They have been listed downwards.

1. Dry Van
2. Pallet Wide
3. Double Door
4. Side Door
5. Open Top
6. Hard Roof Open Top
7. Flat Rack
8. Platform
9. Insulated
10. Reefer
11. Bulkers
12. Tanks

What are Flat Rack Containers?

Flat rack containers are specialized shipping units that have walls at both ends. They provide the feasibility of putting the cargo inside the containers through sides or top.

What makes them different from other containers?

The most basic thing that makes them different from other standard shipping containers is that they are devoid of rooftops and sidewalls.

Flat racks are tailor-made to ease the transportation and storage of heavy and wide merchandise. They are best suited for the cargo that is abnormal in dimension and size as they allow the feasibility of putting the cargo from the top, or the sides.

The name is justifiable in the way that the flat racks are fitted with the walls on both ends and this feature gives the appearance of one big rack.

So basically they are an elongated big rack that gives the freedom of putting overextended cargo in the box with ease. Heavy machinery or any extra-length cargo that cannot fit in other ISO containers can fit easily inside it.

Design and Structure

The design and size of flat racks are different from other standard boxes. Where the other containers have a closed structure as they are fitted with sidewalls and top, flat racks are categorized as open ones. They are bereft of any sidewalls and roof and this is what that makes them different.

They are built from 14-gauge corrugated, and heavy-duty steel. They are fitted with marine softwood ply flooring to save the cargo from any friction.

The boxes are fixed with lashing rings on the side bottom rails, floor, and both end walls. This feature helps in supporting and securing the cargoes. 20ft flat racks are installed with forklift pockets to help easier load and unload of the goods.

The two end walls can be folded or collapsed to make them look like platform containers. Based on this feature, they are categorized into two types.

Types of Flat Rack Containers

Depending on the structure and collapsible end walls feature they are divided into two types to help loading or unloading of merchandise in a better way.

Collapsible Flat Rack Container

The end walls can be collapsed or separated as per the need of the loaders. The shipper won’t have to worry about the effect of removing the walls. Collapsing or removing walls doesn’t make the structure of the container weak.

Non-Collapsible Flat Rack Container

The container is fixed with firm end walls and cannot be detached. This feature provides sturdiness to the box. When not in use non-collapsible flat racks take a lot of space but this is not a difficulty in collapsible ones.

Different Dimensions of Flat Rack containers

The shipping unit comes in different sizes of 20ft, and 40ft to provide transport and storage solutions. They don’t have a high cube version as they don’t come with a roof fixture. And high cube containers are specialized in a way that they increase the height and volume of any shipping box.

So, the approximate data of the dimensions is given below.

20ft Flat Rack

                        Internal dimension 18’ x 6’10’’ x 7’5
                        External dimension 19’ 10 x 8’ x 8’6’’
                        Tare weight 5732 pounds
                        Max gross weight 72752 pounds
40ft Flat Rack

                        Internal dimension 39’ x 6’10” x 7’5
                        External dimension 40’ x 8’ x 8’6”
                        Tare weight 10570 pounds
                        Max gross weight 99207 pounds

Difference between Flat Rack and Platform Containers

People often get confused between the two, thinking both are the same, but in reality they are different from each other in structure.

Flat rack containers

They are fitted with end walls that can be fixed or collapsed. The flush folding design is what makes people confused. As when the end walls are collapsed, they look the same as platform containers.

Platform containers

When talking about platform ones they are not fixed with any such walls. They don’t come with added walls that provide them with the benefit of keeping out-of-the-gauge or overextended items.

Uses of Flat Rack Containers

  • They are perfect for carrying or storing heavier cargo that needs to be loaded from the roof or sides. High or tall machinery can be easily stored in them that don’t fit in normal boxes.
  • Large pipe, building equipment, wood, vehicles, or other such items can be effectively transported with them.
  • Collapsible flat rack ones save the cost of empty positioning as they can be stacked on one another. With the help of forklifts or cranes, the merchandise can be efficiently stored in them.

Benefits of Flat Rack Containers

Convenient loading and unloading

Loading and unloading of the cargo are easier in the boxes as they allow the goods to be put from the sides and the top.


The boxes are made of corrugated heavy-duty steel so they provide sturdiness to the merchandise and are capable of carrying heavy to heaviest loads.

Good Ventilation

This shipping unit is suitable for carrying oxygen-dependent goods, like plants, flowers, flammable materials, livestock, and others. This happens as they are open and don’t come with added seal or protection.


They come attached with lashing rings to side bottom walls and end walls. Thus, they provide security to the cargo. The tarpaulin can be added to the container to save the cargo from dust and other elements in case of dry goods.

Collapsible and non-collapsible flat rack containers both have their added benefits. Flat rack containers give the solution to the storage and transport solutions. They can proficiently transfer heavy machinery, livestock, plants, woods, and other such merchandise.

So, whether you are looking for used containers to store the merchandise or you need new containers to start a business to send your cargo to distant places, LOTUS Containers is the solution you were looking for.

Being one of the eminent shipping container suppliers, we provide containers worldwide. You can get our new and used containers for sale from anywhere in the world. With our buyback services, you never have to worry about empty and unused containers becoming waste. We offer SOC containers that save your detention charges. We have a wide variety of containers to cater to all your shipping needs.

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